Best Winter Birthday Party Themes

Sledding Snowmen

If you, your child, or friend has a birthday party during the winter, you know how easy it is for that birthday to be overshadowed by other holiday celebrations. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa, Thanksgiving to New Years is basically a non-stop holiday celebration, and any birthday during this time can be lost in the shuffle.

If you want to make the birthday party truly special, make it stand out from the round of Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, and Kwanzaa parties that you might attend throughout the month of December and into January, we have a list of the best winter birthday party themes and ideas to get you started, whether you are throwing a party for an adult or for a kid.

Parties for Adults

Planning the perfect winter party for a grown-up friend may seem difficult. How do you make it separate from all of the holiday parties you and they are probably going to be attending this year? These ideas are a great place to start.

1. Winter Wonderland – Bring the outdoors in with this great holiday party idea. While we usually get plenty of snow up here in Philadelphia, there are parts of the country that hardly ever get any snow at all. Whether there’s plenty of snow on the ground or just gray skies and rain where you live this winter, deck out your party space with fake Styrofoam snow, classy penguins, and winter comfort food like stew and pie.

2. Penguin Party – Tell your friends to don their black and white tuxedos, because it’s time for a penguin party! Grab some plastic penguin toys from your local toy store or craft shop and spray paint them with metallic silver or gold paint for fancy decorations. Make a couple of fish dishes to reflect a penguin’s favorite food and then dance the night away.

3. Glitter Party – If you have a friend who loves all things glitzy and glamorous, a glitter party is the way to go. If you hit our party store before New Year’s, you’re sure to find plenty of glitter and sparkle that can be re-purposed not for a New Year’s party, but for a birthday party. You may even be able to find edible glitter to decorate a cake or cupcakes and truly make the night special.

4. Cooking Party – If you or your friend loves to cook (but could maybe use a few pointers to keep her soufflés from falling, this is the theme for you. Whether you hire a local chef to come out and teach you how to cook something (and then spend the rest of the party eating it), or just plan to spend your entire night together in the kitchen, whipping up appetizers, main courses, and desserts as you go, you’ll be toasty and warm in the kitchen.

5. Cookie Decorating Party – You probably all have cookies that you need to decorate and arrange into plates for friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Take this opportunity to make a couple different kinds of cookies and set up decorating stations. If you want to stay as far away from the holidays as possible, have each person bring a favorite recipe and try out a couple, without the impetus of making holiday plates for your acquaintances.

Parties for Kids

Having a winter birthday can be taxing on a child—they may feel like their birthday is forgotten every year, just because they it comes near the holidays. Giving them a special day and party all of their own is a great way to make sure they feel loved and appreciated during the holiday season. Here are a few winter-themed birthday ideas for kid parties.

1. Nutcracker Birthday – If you have a little ballerina in the making, centering their birthday party on the Nutcracker is a great way to both incorporate a little holiday spirit and give them a fun and unique birthday party. Look for ballerinas and Nutcrackers, as well as Mice Kings for decorations. You can even find ballerina cupcake toppers!

2. All Things Ice – Whether or not it’s cold outside, if you make it toasty and warm inside, your kids will be begging for some ice cream! Serving all things ice is a great way to incorporate the season without your child’s special day turning into just another holiday party. Ice cream, popsicles, iced tea, etc., can be used as snacks and drinks, with maybe a few warm dishes to make sure they don’t chill to the bone.

3. Ice Skating Party – Taking a group of kids ice skating can seem daunting, but once you have them all laced up and out on the ice, they pretty much take care of themselves. There are even ice rinks you can rent out just for the occasion. Bring along popcorn, your cake, and some hot chocolate mix to warm them up after a full day of skating around the ice.

4. Sledding Party – When you’re young, there’s nothing better than finding fresh snow on a hill and sledding down it. While used sled tracks make for a faster descent, new tracks are more adventurous! Turning your kid’s birthday into a sledding party is a great way to get him and his friends out and doing something active on a cold winter day.

5. Crazy Winter Clothing Party – Have you ever seen The Christmas Story? One of the best scenes occurs when the mother wraps the youngest son up in far too many warm and ridiculous-looking clothes—his brother describes him as a “tick that’s about to pop.” Why not host a crazy winter clothing party and encourage all of your guests to wear their wackiest winter gear? You’ll be toasty and warm and refreshments are as easy as hat-shaped cookies and hot chocolate.

Want to go big for your holiday party?  Tent Rentals, Party Rentals & Event Rentals in Philadelphia can be found here: BucksMontParty.com

Parties for the Post-Holiday Lull

white party

Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Years are over. After a flurry of holiday celebrations, there is a serious lull until Valentine’s Day in February. Just because all of the major holidays are over and there is nothing but bleak winter until the most romantic day of the year doesn’t mean that you can’t still throw some fun parties—and if you have left over decorations and food from your holiday bashes, you can even throw them inexpensively. Don’t let the post-holiday lull bring you down! We have some great party ideas to make sure the fun keeps going.

Host a Ski Chalet Party

Nothing says winter like jetting off on a ski vacation. Many times the resorts are so nice that you don’t spend very much time on the slopes—and that’s alright. If you can’t afford to drop everything and visit a ski resort for a few weeks this year, you can always host a ski chalet party. Your décor should be both natural and elegant, with a flair for the rustic. If you can find a venue that has a fireplace, it can be the centerpiece of your event.

Your menu should include warm, hearty comfort foods, ranging from stew to roast chicken. Warm, hearty soup is a great option, as long as it served with fresh bread. For desert, you can offer s’mores or even leftover fruitcake from your holiday party. This can be an extremely easy event to decorate, as you can make use of all of your left over wreathes and trees, dressing them up in simple white and silver décor to reflect the snowy season.

Throw a White Party

What color is most associated with winter? White! Throw an all-white party, reusing any white or snowy decorations from the holidays to make your space look like a winter wonderland. You can limit your menu to white foods like white fish, vegetables, pasta, and sauces, or your menu can be the pop of color in your otherwise white, white, white space. Deck out the place with white flowers, white table clothes, white chairs, and white lights. Serve up some white wine and get the music pumping!

A Party of Fire and Ice

The juxtaposition of fire and ice can be a great way to bring some heat to your winter festivities. The menu is simple enough to figure out—cold seafood and spicy or warm vegetables and meat. You could go with white foods and red foods, or just put spicy, flavorful dishes up against mellower pallet-cleansing dishes. The drinks are pretty easy to figure out too—you can do a flaming cocktail and then something cool and refreshing as a chaser.

Figuring out your decorations is as easy as sourcing the red and white elements from your Christmas decorations. Red and blue is another great combination, and most party supply stores will have plenty of both colors left over from the pre-New Year’s holidays. You can get ornaments, swags, wall hangings, and other decoration at discounted prices, making these party decorations extremely budget-friendly.

Renew the New Year

Did you know that most people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after only two weeks? Why not throw a mid-January party around the theme of renewing your resolutions to help stay motivated! This is a great opportunity to invite all of those people that were too busy for parties on New Year’s and give them another chance to celebrate with martinis and maybe even a ball-drop at midnight.

Best of all, you can reuse your New Year’s decorations or you can pick them up on discount from just about any party supply store. Sequins, gold, and black, are the standard, but just about any color will do. Outfit your walls with clocks (to go with the theme of time passing) and make sure everyone has a chance to write down or talk about their New Year’s resolutions.

Party in a Snow Globe

Could anything be better than throwing a party in a snow globe? This is a great opportunity to rent a tent or to just festoon the interior of your favorite venue with snowflakes, fake snow, and fun. You can reuse any snowflakes from your tree and even scatter fake snow across the dance floor, so your guests can have the experience of playing in the snow, without having to get cold or go outside.

When it comes to decorations, you can make paper snowflakes (or enlist your party guests or children to do it), and hang them on the walls. You might even be able to find a projector that fills the entire room with projected snowflakes of different shapes and colors. For the menu, stick to traditional cold-weather food, ranging from soup to pie.

Throw a Special Party for that Friend Whose Birthday Is Too Close to the Holidays

If you have a friend whose birthday is in December, consider moving their celebration back a month so they have their own party and fun. People with birthdays in December usually feel that their parties are swallowed by holiday cheer—make sure that she or he feels special and appreciated with a party all their own, without Christmas or Hanukah or New Year’s encroaching on their festivities. It doesn’t have to be winter-themed, it just has to be separate from any other event.

Frozen Party

If your children are in love with the movie Frozen, after Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanza, and New Year’s is a great time to throw a party around the theme of the movie. Frozen decorations are in just about every single party store, and they will love playing in the snow, eating chocolate and cupcakes shaped like Olaf, and just having a break from the monotony of returning to school after the winter break.

Ten Less-Celebrated Winter Holidays to Plan Parties For

If your mom is anything like my mom, she hardly needed an excuse to plan a party—but when she could find a legitimate excuse, she definitely would. Our Christmas celebrations were heavily supplemented by parties for other holidays, for other religions which we did not practice, but which she still wanted to celebrate to learn about different religions and cultures. This made for a pretty fun winter, with lots of unusual parties—holiday parties unlike any of the ones our friends or extended family were throwing. If you’re looking to throw a holiday party that’s not just another Christmas party, here are some other winter holidays that could use a little attention.

1. Hanukkah

While pretty much everyone knows about Hanukkah, those who don’t observe it usually don’t know very much about it. Contrary to popular belief, Hanukkah isn’t just Christmas for Jewish people. Sure, it falls around the same time of year and most children do get gifts during the eight days of Hanukkah, but it has an entirely different origin and purpose—and unlike Christmas, which is one of the biggest holidays in Christianity, it not one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar. It celebrates the miracle of the oil in the temple burning for eight nights straight, even though it shouldn’t have lasted longer than one, and is an eight-night festival of lights.

2. The Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest day in the Southern Hemisphere. It is the traditional beginning of winter and occurs on the 21st of December, and it marks the point in our Earth’s rotation where the Northern hemisphere is as titled away from the sun as it can be.

3. Yule

While we sometimes hear the word “Yule” associated with Christmas things—like Yuletide or the Yule log, it is actually a separate holiday, celebrated by pagans. It occurs on the solstice and celebrates the sun as a personification of a god. During the months leading up to Yule, the god is seen as “leaving” as the days shorten and shorten. During the months after the winter solstice, until the summer solstice (again, just in the Northern Hemisphere), the god is returning to his people. Bonfires are set to light the world in case the sun god does not come back, but, as we know, he always does.

4. Ramadan

Because Islamic holidays are not set to the Gregorian calendar, when Ramadan actually falls will vary widely, depending on the year. Often, Ramadan will fall during the winter. This is a celebration of the Qur’an and its revelation to Mohammed, the prophet. This year, the holiday fell in the summer, eventually it will migrate back towards the wintertime.

5. Kwanzaa

Another holiday that many people have heard of, but may not know the origins of or the purpose for. This holiday is not even a hundred years old yet, having been created only in 1966 by California State University’s chairmen of Black Studies. It is intended to be a holiday to bring Africa-American communities together and honor their African roots. A Kwanzaa celebration will usually involve storytelling, singing, music, and meals from the African culture. There is also the lighting of the seven candles, which represents the seven values of African culture, including unity, faith, creativity, sense of purpose, collective work and responsibility, self-determination, and cooperative economics. The holiday starts the day after Christmas and ends on New Year’s Day.

6. Three Kings Day

This holiday is a good excuse to keep the Christmas tree up, even after New Year’s. You’d hate not to have your tree up for your Three Kings Day Party! This holiday is celebrated on January 6th and commemorates that arrival of the three wise men (three kings) in Bethlehem, to present baby Jesus with gifts. Traditional activities include finishing off the Christmas leftovers, singing carols, and exchanging the last of the gifts.

7. Festivus

Have you ever heard someone say, “Festivus for the rest of us?” This holiday stems from an old episode of the Seinfeld. While the rules of Festivus are not exactly hard and fast, it is celebrated two days before Christmas and the only decoration is an aluminum pole. There’s also something about “airing grievances” and “feats of strength.” Don’t worry, die-hard Seinfeld fans will know what you’re talking about when you invite them to your Festivus festivities.

8. St. Nicholas Day

Traditionally celebrated on the 6th of December, this holiday recognizes the real life St. Nicholas and his good work in the country of Greece. The saint leaves goodies in the socks or shoes of good children (sound familiar), and it is traditional to leave a treat out for the saint.

9. St. Lucia Day

A Swedish holiday that comes around every December 13th, St. Lucia day commemorates Lucia, a young woman who was burned at the stake and then stabbed by the man she refused to marry. While it might not have the prettiest of origins, St. Lucia day traditions including dressing up as St. Lucia, making breakfast for your parents or other loved ones, and presenting it to them while they are still in bed while singing. You may recognize St. Lucia as the young, blonde woman wearing white dress with a red sash and a crown of candles.

10. Ghambar Maidyarem

Celebrated from the last day of December through the first day of January, this is a Zoroastrian holiday that celebrates the world’s animals and their creation. Traditional clothing and foods are eaten and time is spent with family.

Fifteen Unique Holiday Treats to Take to All of Your Parties This Season

Holly treat box with cellophane bag

Even if you only have one holiday party to attend this season (and you’re throwing it), or you just want to spice up your cookie plates, the holidays are the perfect time to try out new recipes, or just to try something different and fun. Whether you have ten parties to attend or are just planning on passing out cookies at work or to your neighbors, we have a few ideas to help make your parties and gifts truly unique. Who doesn’t want to master holiday treats? Here are some of the best holiday treat ideas:

Peppermint Cake

There’s nothing especially Christmas-y about white cake, is there? What if you were to add peppermint into the mix? A delicious white cake with peppermint flavored frosting and adorned with peppermints will be an excellent gift for any party host or as a special treat for your office.

Chocolate Pie

While some might go straight for apple or cherry pie for the holidays, there’s no reason you can’t opt for chocolate instead. Chocolate is a big part of the holidays, and combining it with a pie is an easy and delicious way to really make an impression on your host and friends.

Truffles

Until you’ve tried making them, you don’t know how easy truffles are to make. Making them yourself allows you to create unique and holiday-inspired combinations that you might not be able to find even in the best confectionary shops. Chocolate and peppermint is always a good bet, but chocolate and raspberry and even just plain chocolate will be seriously popular.

Sugar Cookies

While there might not be anything especially unique about sugar cookies themselves, decorations can make them stand out among a sea of similar cookies. A little bit of frosting and some sprinkles is great, but what about marshmallows and frosting to make melted snowmen cookies or just marshmallows, toasted with a torch for a gooey and delicious take on plain sugar cookies?

Fudge

Fudge is a favorite at holiday parties around the country, largely because it’s so easy to make. If you want to make easy, but delicious fudge, try using a recipe that incorporates Nutella as the base—it cuts your ingredients in half and basically makes itself.

Turtles

This is always one of our favorite things to make and take to holiday parties and they are so easy. A few pecans, some caramel, and chocolate—you can even enlist the kids to help make them.

Eggnog Cheesecake

Is there anything more holiday-themed than eggnog? Incorporating it into a cheesecake base makes for a delicious and unique treat that no one else will be bringing to their holiday parties.

Red Velvet Cake or Cupcakes

There’s just something great about red cake, especially for the Christmas season. Some green frosting or decorations is a great way to really make sure that the cake reflects the season. To make this cake even more festive, try white frosting and Christmas tree cake toppers, to turn your cake into a snow winter scene.

Yule Log

The yule log tradition is one that few people follow these days, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make and take a delicious yule log cake to your holiday parties. Making one of these cakes might take a little practice—getting your rolling technique just right is something that takes some mastery, but once you have it down, some brown frosting and some snowy powdered sugar complete your yule logs.

Unique Cookie Shapes

Don’t just opt for plain old gingerbread men. There are lots of other cookie shapes for the holiday season, including deer, Santa Claus, mittens, Christmas trees, etc. If you’re going to stick with standard sugar cookies (and why not? They’re delicious and easy to make), look for some unique cookie cutter shapes to spice up your treats.

Pumpkin Cake

Nothing says “the holidays” like pumpkin. It’s everywhere during the winter season and for good reason—it’s delicious and comforting. Instead of opting for the traditional pumpkin pie, what about pumpkin cake, instead? Cream cheese frosting in a great way to top this off and it will look great laid out beside the cookies and brownies that other party-goers bring.

Fruitcake the Right Way

Fruitcake doesn’t have to be rock hard and disgusting—it can actually be delicious, if you make it front scratch. All it takes is the right ingredients—it is cake, after all, it should be moist and sweet—and the right dried fruits, to make sure that it doesn’t end up looking and tasting like the fruitcake from your childhood.

Orange Zest Cookies

Oranges are a big part of many culture’s holiday celebrations, and citrus of any kind is appropriate for this holiday season. A good way to incorporate this into your parties is to make a plate of orange zest cookies. Whether you like just a hint of orange or enough zest that you can smell the orange from a foot away, these cookies are sure to impress.

Mini Pies

What if not everyone likes apple pie, but it’s your favorite? Instead of making one or two big pies, why not make many different kinds of little, personal pies? That way everyone can have the flavor of holiday pie that they prefer. Plus, they are adorable laid out on your party’s buffet table alongside your Christmas decorations.

Cinnamon Bun Cookies

Cinnamon buns aren’t just for Christmas morning anymore. It’s easy to swirl together regular sugar cookie dough with cinnamon-spiced dough to create a cut and bake pinwheel cookie that is sure to delight not just the adults, but also the kids. A drizzle of cream cheese frosting is a great way to round out the cinnamon-bun theme.

Want to go big for your holiday party?  Tent Rentals, Party Rentals & Event Rentals in Philadelphia can be found here: BucksMontParty.com

Christmas Parties: The Basics

Candy Cane Cutouts

Whether this is the first year that you’re hosting the family Christmas dinner or your twentieth year, it can be nice to get some of the basics down, to make your entire party-planning process easier. The last thing you need to do is spend the entire day panicking, when it should be spent relaxing with your family or guests. We have the solutions to help you make sure that your party is perfectly planned, perfectly orchestrated, so that you have nothing to worry about—even if you’re planning it at the last minute. Here are the Christmas Party Basics to get you started and ensure a successful party.

The Decorations

Especially if you are on a time crunch, the best place to get Christmas decorations is from a party supply store. Our store has plenty of unique and beautiful Christmas decorations that make it easy to get your home or other venue looking festive and beautiful. If you have a little more time and want to make some homemade decorations, there are a few ways you can go about it.

Paper chains made from red and green paper is a great way to decorate a room and you can even enlist the family to help make them. Just cut strips from red and green paper and then interlock the loops, taping them closed. Then, use tape or wall hooks to drape them around the room.

Another simple and personalized decoration is mini-Christmas trees. Setting up a bunch of different trees and decorating each one with its own theme or color is a fun and unique way to add life to your room. You could even make this part of the party—leaving out different decorations and having a mini-Christmas tree decorating race.

Wall hangings, garlands, and wreaths are all tenants of Christmas decorations and they can go as traditional or as high-style as you want. You can augment some homemade decorations with store bought lights and decorations, or do just one or the other. If you are on a serious time crunch, it’s not out of order to ask your guests to swing by a little bit early and help you deck the halls.

The Food

When it comes to planning a party, picking a menu and getting the food ready is probably one of the most stressful and difficult parts. Even if you are only have three people over, how can you be sure that you’ve made enough food? That it’s even food that they will like? A good way to be sure that you have enough and that it’s something they like is to ask. What would your mother-in-law like to see on the table at Christmas dinner? What kind of dessert does your best friend think would be best at your annual bash?

Better yet, if you’re very concerned that someone won’t like any of the food that you’ve made, or if it’s too impossible or expensive to make enough food to go around, a holiday potluck is a good way to get everyone involved and to mitigate the expense and time suck that is making food for a Christmas party.

If you’re planning a traditional Christmas party, some sort of roast poultry is usually on the menu. If you’re Scrooge, it’s the goose from the shop down the lane. If you can’t find a goose (or it’s just too darn expensive), chicken or turkey are always good bets (and if you stick them in a crock pot or pressure cooker, they come out tender, juicy, and delicious with minimal work). Roast beef or a ham are all traditional Christmas fare that most everyone will love to eat. Dressing, mashed potatoes, and cornbread are great sides.

On the other hand, you could go very contemporary and create something entirely unique and non-traditional. Whatever you choose to do, just be apprised of any of your guest’s food allergies. (Hosting a potluck is a good way to ensure that someone with a food allergy or intolerance has something to eat—they’ll make and bring something that is allergen free.)

The Traditions

Whether or not you are having a traditional Christmas dinner, it might still be fun to incorporate some of the most common Christmas traditions. Whether or not you have the voice of an angel, singing Christmas carols can be very fun—again, even if there’s no real musical talent in the room. Brewing up a cup of wassail, hot cider, or hot chocolate and gathering together around your Christmas tree to sing your favorite Christmas tunes can really bring a party together.

Exchanging gifts is a Christmas tradition, and exchanging something, however small, during your Christmas party, might be fun. If there’s a way to make the gift selection and exchange low-pressure and hassle free, it can add the spirit of love and gratitude to your event.

Once all of your guests are full from your delicious meal (whether prepared just by you or by their own hands), it might be fun to bundle up in your coats, hats, and gloves and make a quick tour of neighborhood to do a little caroling.

Decorating your Christmas tree, whether it’s those mini-trees you set up as part of your Christmas decorations or just your singular, main tree, can also bring a family or group of friends together. There is nothing more festive than channeling your inner decorators and stringing lights, ornaments, and candy canes on a fresh-cut or fake Christmas tree.

Weird Holiday Traditions to Use in Your Party

 

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sure, you could throw a plain old holiday party, but wouldn’t it be more fun to incorporate some strange traditions from all over the world? Why not give your guests a unique holiday party experience—something they’ll be talking about until well after New Year’s? Whether you want your entire party to be weird and wacky, or whether you just want to augment your more traditional party with a few new elements, we have twelve of the weirdest, coolest holiday traditions for you and your party guests to take part in.

1. Ugly sweaters – While some people might participate in this tradition unknowingly, it’s much more fun to make wearing an ugly holiday sweater a mandatory part of the party. You might have some guests that will have quite a few sweaters to choose from!

2. Krampus – Is good old Saint Nick too tame for you and your guests? Krampus is kind of like Santa Claus’s evil twin. Instead of just doling out coal to everyone on his naughty list, he actually doles out real punishment. If someone is really bad, he kidnaps them and eats them—so maybe that shouldn’t be part of your tradition, but you can opt for some Krampus decorations instead of Santa.

3. KFC – What do the Japanese do for Christmas? Not much, since only a very small fraction of the country is Christian and even mainstream Christian holidays like Christmas haven’t really found a foothold in Japan. Many Japanese do, however, indulge in KFC on the 25th of December—this kitschy tradition was started by KFC as a way to give foreign visitors in Japan a more “traditional American” meal on Christmas.

4. Mari Lwyd – If this tradition sounds weird, welcome to Wales. In this tradition, a group of five or six revelers put a horse skull on a stick and decorate it. They then parade the Grey Mare (Mari Lwyd) around the neighborhood or through the pub district, engaging home and pub owners in rhyming games. If they win the rhyming game, they are admitted to the house or pub, where the owner provides them with drinks and a meal.

5. Visit Your Ancestors – In many countries, Christmas is a time to celebrate with family. In countries like Finland, this is taken to the next level. Many families will gather in cemeteries on Christmas Eve, sing some songs, light lanterns and candles, and spend some time reminiscing about their family members who have gone on before. This tradition began as a way to commemorate those who died in the First World War.

6. La Quema del Diablo – Christmas and New Year’s are often seen as days of renewal, and that is the point of this Guatemalan tradition. Starting in early December, Guatemalans clean out their homes, get rid of garbage and other items they no longer want, place them into a large pile and set them ablaze. This symbolically banishes the mess of the year and the devil from their lives, in preparation for the Christmas season.

7. Flores de Noche Buena – In Mexico, the poinsettia is the flower of choice during Christmas time. The story goes that a brother and sister left some branches as a gift for baby Jesus, because they had nothing else to offer. Though the other children mocked them, the branches grew poinsettias—a miracle and a sign of approval for the children’s gift. Called Flores de Noche Buena (Flowers of the Holy Night), in Mexico, they were renamed in America.

8. Yule Lads – From the 12th of December to the 23rd of December, children in Iceland leave one of their shoes in a windowsill in their home, hoping that the Yule Lads (thirteen in total), will leave them a present. If they have been good, they are given money or chocolate. If they’ve been bad, they are given a potato.

9. Hogmanay – While Christmas still gets plenty of attention in Scotland, it’s Hogmanay (New Year’s), that really shines. Christmas is a family-centric holiday, but New Years is where the party’s at. It celebrates the birth of the new year with bon fires and the ever-important first footer, who should bring gifts to the home that he visits. Dark haired men are luckiest. Blond women are the unluckiest. That first-footer should bring coins (even if they’re chocolate), bread, and whiskey for the family.

10. Spider Web Tree – In the Ukraine, many trees will be covered with spider webs instead of tinsel. Why? Because the old babushkas tell the story of a family too poor to afford a tree, who grew one instead out of a pinecone. Though they had a tree, they still did not have enough money to buy decoration for it. One morning, the family woke to see that a spider had spun beautiful gold and silver webs for the tree.

11. Befana – What if a witch brought presents to your party guests, instead of a jolly old elf? In Italy, it isn’t Santa Claus that brings the toys and other goodies, it’s Befana, a witch who rides around on her broomstick, delivering toys to good little children. This usually happens well after Christmas, on the 6th of January. Just like Santa, she fills stockings with treats and leaves presents around the tree.

12. Mummering – If you’ve ever spent a Christmas in Newfoundland, you might have heard of this tradition, which consists of your party guests dressing up in elaborate costumes intended to obscure their identity. The host of the party has to guess who each person is, and only then are they admitted to the home and given drink and a meal.  Most people here in Philly are more familiar with the parade.