Plenty of people would rather stay home on a winter's evening than go to a Christmas party. It's not that they're grinches, it's just that chatting about nothing with someone they don't really know and probably won't see again is not how they'd like to spend their precious holiday.
Would you like to entertain this year but don't want to give "the usual" party? Try these ideas for something different and start a new tradition! You'll have friends eager to take part in your celebration.
Neighborhood Decorating Party
Get the whole neighborhood involved in a decorating party! On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, plan a neighborhood party around decorating. Plan a simple brunch, ask everyone to contribute something to the feast, and spend the day getting the Christmas decorations put up together. Don't leave the kids out—plan Christmas party games for them, too.
Who doesn't love to look at beautiful Christmas lights? But who really likes the job of putting them up? Plan a simple party to get friends together to help each other with the task. Prepare a hearty pot of chili or soup, offer crusty rolls and warm cider. Then go from home to home to get the decorations out.
In and Out!
Plan to go as a group to a holiday movie or new release. Assign someone to purchase all the tickets ahead of time. Ask each guest or couple to bring one part of the dinner, like a casserole, salad, or dessert. Invite everyone to come two hours before the start of the film. Enjoy what everyone has brought, and then be off to the show. You won't have to do anything but get your house ready, and you know that guests won't stay all evening.
Make It Simple
Plan a party around pizza, a soup buffet, a hearty salad, or "make-your-own" sandwiches. By focusing on a food theme, you won't be tempted to add just one more thing.
Tell friends from work that you'll be home all evening and invite them to drop in. Offer simple steaming soup, cheese, and crackers, meatballs, cheese fondue, or small sandwiches. After a long day of work, no one will want to stay a long time, but it will be a nice opportunity to visit and relax.
Give to Others
Plan a party to benefit the needy. Your job will be to get everything organized. You and your guests might make things, such as blankets, toys, or socks. Or collect things as admission to your party, like canned food items or toys to give to the needy or a food bank. Or do a craft project and share it with residents of a retirement home. Put together food baskets and distribute them to a shelter for the homeless.
Shop 'Til You Drop Party
Plan a "Girls' Day Out" for Christmas shopping. Locate some interesting places to shop for crafts, antiques, or specialty items. Get things ready for a light meal when you're "shopped out" or stop at a favorite lunch spot mid-day. When you get back home, get out all the wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbon, and tags, and compare your purchases before you wrap them. Shopping, lunch, wrapping, and fun, all at one time!
Christmas Tree Decorating Party
This theme for a holiday party has worked great for years. Ask each person to bring two ornaments to share. You, as host or hostess, should have an ornament to share with each guest. Write the date on the back as a reminder of the occasion. Everyone puts one of their offerings on the tree and exchanges the other with another guest. Everyone goes home with two new ornaments, one from you and one exchanged. It's a great way to get the tree trimmed and add to your ornament collection.
Read on for more ideas for fun and memorable Christmas parties.
- Get crafty for Christmas: Plan an afternoon or evening to do crafts. Make Christmas cards, pour candles, stamp gift wrap, or decorate pine garlands or wreaths. Or have someone show everyone how to put together a beautiful Christmas centerpiece. As the host, you should plan to supply the "fixings", have hot glue guns ready, and offer decorative touches. But each guest can create something that will go in their home that they can take with them when they leave.
- Bake up a storm: Gather friends together to assemble gingerbread houses or decorate Christmas cookies. Have frosting in lots of colors, decorations, and candies on hand. Unless you have a grand, large kitchen, it might be best to keep the group to four or five, so you won't be bumping into each other. Be sure to offer something nourishing to eat.
- The great outdoors: Organize a sports activity such as walking or hiking, cross country skiing, or ice skating. Invite everyone to your home to thaw out with warm soup, cider, sandwiches, a wiener roast in the fireplace, and visiting.
- Prepare joint gifts: Instead of everyone giving the classroom teacher or team coach a small gift, pool your resources and put together a group gift. Parents can get together and decorate a beautiful basket, arrange cookies, add cherished gift cards, and a picture of all the kids. As the host of such a party, you can offer a tasty brunch and have Christmas carols playing. Gather around the Christmas tree and have fun while you're thinking of others who have done so much through the year!
- Dessert parties: When my children were younger, I'd plan a big party for families and friends after the school Christmas program. I'd make dozens of cookies in the days after Thanksgiving and freeze them. Then when the day came, I'd arrange beautiful trays of goodies, add hot and cold cider, and be ready. Careful planning ahead of time made these dessert parties a great success year after year.
- Caroling party: Plan a yummy supper for guests, then go out caroling through the neighborhood. Or stay at home and sing carols with friends around the fire. Ask someone to play the piano or violin and have copies of Christmas carol words ready to hand out. You'd be surprised how much people enjoy singing Christmas carols!
- "Movies at home" party: Plan a stay-at-home party. Buy or rent a classic Christmas movie, such as "A Christmas Carol," "Christmas Story," or "It's a Wonderful Life." Prepare lots of popcorn and hot chocolate or soft drinks. Get out blankets, turn the lights down, and enjoy a film in your own home. Then talk about your Christmas traditions when the movie is over.
- Formal Christmas tea: Prepare a classic tea party for the ladies or "little ladies". Ask everyone to "dress to the nines" and come to enjoy. Get out your most beautiful china and silver. Include tea cakes, scones, tiny sandwiches with crusts cut off, and several flavors of tea.
- Here comes Santa Claus party: What child doesn't love a visit with Santa? Plan a party for the neighborhood children or the children of your friends. Hire a Santa to visit, take requests, and hand out small gifts. Ask each child to bring a gift to share with another. Be sure to have games to play or crafts to do when Santa leaves. Offer a Santa hat to each child, read a wonderful Christmas story, or have each child write a note to Santa to put out on Christmas Eve.
There are probably lots of other ways to celebrate Christmas with a party. It's a wonderful time of year to entertain friends and create memories. Your friends will be coming back year after year!