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.

The Ultimate Office Holiday Party

If you’re in charge of the office holiday party, you may feel a lot of pressure to make sure that the party is as top notch as it can be. Even if your office is not politics heavy, you might still feel like there are a lot of personalities to please with this party, and with lots of different people come lots of varying beliefs.

Making sure that no one is offended and everyone has fun may seem like a monumental task. Planning an office holiday party does not have to be stressful—with the right tools and the right tips, it can actually be fun. Here are our tips for planning the ultimate office holiday party.

Ask Around

The best way to make sure that everyone has a stake in this party is to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. If you can, schedule a quick meeting where people can throw out suggestions, and try to do it as early in the season as possible. Alternatively, if you can’t find a time when everyone can sit together for a couple minutes, go around the office and see what suggestions each individual wants to offer.

An office is already a complicated place, with lots of different personalities. To avoid stepping on any toes, make sure that you’ve had every one’s input. If your party is specifically a Christmas theme but there are people in the office that do not celebrate Christmas, make sure their holiday traditions are represented as well. If your party is just holiday themed, still make sure that Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, and New Year’s are all represented.

Asking around is also a great way to ask people to volunteer for tasks like brining food, making and hanging decorations, and planning activities for the party.

Create Invitations

While emailed invitations might be the most efficient way to get the word out about the upcoming party, you can also distribute physical invitations, as a reminder, a few days before the party. Depending on when your party is—either during office hours or afterwards—include any information that your fellow employees might need to know about what to wear, who to bring, and what to bring.

If you have a pretty free budget, you can have invitations printed by a professional printer, or you can spend a little extra time and make them yourself, printing them out on the office printer. Whether you make them yourself or have them printed, make sure they are read about a month before the party. It might be a good idea to include an RSVP requirement, so you know how much food you need to have.

Deck the Office Halls

Christmas party supplies are not difficult to come by and you might even have some left over from last year. Again, if you have lots of budget to work with, you can get really fancy with your holiday or Christmas party decorations, but if your budget is tighter, you might consider looking through discount or low-cost decorations and spicing them up with some handmade designs. Keep in mind that you really only need a few decorations in order to make the office look great.

Music is a key piece of holiday decorating. If your party is intended to be non-denominational, it might be best to stay away from Christmas hymns, but there are plenty of more commercialized holiday songs that will be perfect. A great way to make sure you have a unique mix of music is to purchase a Christmas mix CD or to turn on an internet radio station. This way, you’re sure to have uninterrupted music for hours.

If you really want to go all out, you could hire a DJ or a local musician to take requests and really make your party special. A lower-cost option is to rent or set-up a karaoke machine, with some holiday classics queued up so the party goers can make their own music.

Food and Drinks

Getting enough food and drink for a large office party is usually the most difficult and expensive part of planning a holiday party. If you have a small office, you probably also have a small budget. The cost of food and drink can be mitigated by farming out the tasks to individuals.

If someone is famous for making brownies, be sure to enlist them to make brownies for the party. If someone has a famous chili recipe, ask if they would be willing to make a pot for your party. If you go this route, you’re likely to have a sort of hodge-podge of different dishes and desserts, but it’s also a great way for each person to show off their signature dish and get everyone involved.

Drinks can be a little bit trickier. If your party is during office hours, you might not be allowed to have alcohol. Stick to virgin eggnog and cider in that case. If you are allowed to have alcohol, it might be best to not stock up on it too much. An office party, even if you’re close with all of your coworkers, is not the place to get drunk and rowdy.

Activities

Not every party needs to have activities, but it can be a good way to make sure that everyone doesn’t just stand around and continue talking about work. A Christmas scavenger hunt is a great way to get everyone involved and it can even be really fun to plan. This is another time when karaoke might come in handy, or an activity like white elephant or Yankee swap could be really fun.

Other fun holiday activities might be playing dreidel, having a present-wrapping contest, or a holiday trivia tournament. Don’t be afraid to look outside the box or have individuals make suggestions and bring games to play with the whole group.

How to Plan a Christmas Party for Kids

If you’re in charge of the christmas party for your kids’ school, your church is throwing a holiday party, or if you just want to throw a fun party for your kids and their friends, we’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to know to make sure your party goes off without a hitch. Christmas is the center of every kid’s year, and there’s nothing better than a fun filled party to really get them in the spirit. No matter what kind of party you want to have, we’ve got the tips to make it easier and more fun for all involved—that means you, too.

1. Christmas Games –

The first task of your party planning endeavor is to make sure that you have all of your activity bases covered. Having enough for the kids to do means you won’t have to worry about the party devolving into chaos—and if you’ve ever planned a party for children, you know how often that can happen. Games and crafts are a great way to keep the kids occupied and still having fun. Here are some of our favorite.

a. Wrap presents with lots of layers of wrapping paper and newspaper and plenty of tape. Then, give the kids ten seconds to unwrap as much of it as possible before they have to pass it on to the next kid, who gets ten seconds to try to unwrap it. Instead of a timer, use holiday music. Turn on the music, let it play for a short time, and then turn it off when it’s time to pass.

b. Challenge the kids to wrap a present as quickly as possible. Give each kid the same size box, the same amount of wrapping papers and tape, and see who can do it the best.

c. See if you can get the kids to draw and guess Rudolph, Frosty, and Santa Clause.  Or any other holiday image you can think of.

d. Queue up the holiday music for Christmas-themed musical chairs.  This is great for when the kids just need to run around, and can’t keep themselves still!

2. Christmas Treats –

The kids are likely going to be eating plenty of cookies and candy this holiday season…but why not just a little bit more?  Decorating holiday cookies, for example, is a great way to pass the time. Get some green, red, and silver sprinkles for sugar cookies, or make some gingerbread men and let them give him frosting clothes and candy accessories. For a little bit older set of children, building gingerbread houses is great fun! You can buy kits, or just make some pieces yourself. They might not want to eat the pieces after they’ve built and decorated it, so it might be worth it to make some other cookies, just in case… especially if you have a handyman around the house that had to glue the pieces together :)

3. Christmas Crafts –

Simple, easy crafts that double as decorations are a great way to not only get the kids to do something creative, but ensure they have something to take home at the end of the party. Don’t underestimate the skill of your kids and you’re sure to have some amazing works of art by the end of the party. Use these to augment your Christmas decorations. Here are some suggestions of crafts.

a. Make felt ornaments. It’s easy to cut ornament shapes out of different colors of felt, ranging from green to red to white. Do the standard circle or get a little fancier. Then, using fabric glue, let the kids decorate the ornaments with ribbon and sequins. Once they’re done, just glue on a piece of ribbon as the holder.

b. Make felt Christmas trees. It’s the same basic concept, except they get to decorate an entire tree themselves. Put magnets on the back to hang on the fridge or some sticky tack to make these a great wall decoration.

c. Make an easy garland of pom-poms. Pom-poms are easy to make—just wrap some lengths of yarn around the tines of the fork and put a tie around the middle. Then, cut the loops and fluff the yarn so that it forms a neat little ball. Just tie a longer piece of yarn around each pom and you’ll have a unique, beautiful garland that was super easy to make, even for small fingers.

4. Time and Date –

Knowing when to plan your Christmas party can be the most difficult part of planning. If your party is for a class at school, the best time to hold it would likely be the last day of school before the holiday break. Kids already know they are about to go on vacation and are likely not going to be engaged with any learning that is trying to happen. Having the party keeps them engaged and gets them revved up for the coming holidays.

If your party is not for school, choosing a date and time might be a little more logistically difficult. Many families have lots of parties to attend and many families also like to spend as much time together during the holidays as possible. This is why it is beneficial to talk to the parents of your kids’ friends and see when might be a good date and time for them. You could even suggest taking the kids off their hands for a few hours so they can shop for presents without having to hide them from the kids.

Most churches already have holiday parties on their schedule. You might want to have your party in addition to pre-planned parties, even as way to let the grown-ups have fun in one room, while the kids have their own party in another.

Christmas Parties on a Budget: How to Make It Happen

Snowman Napkins

Do you have a Christmas party to plan? Do you have lots of Christmas parties to attend? Both of these can be a serious strain on your budget, unless you know how to cut back down on spending and make use of what you already have in order to make sure your Christmas budget is not maxed out just on parties. We’ve got solutions for those of you who have parties to throw and for those of you who have parties to attend where presents are expected or appreciated.

Planning a Christmas Party on a Budget

The holidays are almost upon us, and if you’re an experienced Christmas or holiday party planner, you have likely already started to think about the things you need to get and the tasks that need to be completed. Don’t let them overwhelm you! Here are some tips to make sure that you come in under budget and under-stressed this year.

1. Choose a budget. Knowing how much you want to spend before you get started is the best way to make sure you don’t go overboard. Pick a number and hold on to that number as you shop for Christmas party decorations and other necessities. Don’t talk yourself into spending more because you “really need” something. Either cut the fat from other areas or do without.

2. Don’t shun the dollar store. Dollar stores are great resources for last minute items like extra paper goods and even supplies to clean up after the party. You can also get paper goods like plates, utensils, and cups in our party supply store, for super cheap, and in any color you need—like red and green.

3. Look for sales. This is especially important when it comes to food. Food is likely going to be the most expensive part of your party-planning, so unless you’re planning a potluck, the best way to save money is to look for sales in the weeks leading into your party, freeze it, and pull it out again when it’s time to use it for the party.

4. Opt for lower-cost decorations. Christmas is usually the time of year that most people go all-out for decorating—and there’s nothing wrong with that. When you’re planning a party, there are ways to cut down your decoration costs. Instead of buying hundreds of taper candles, try tea lights. They’re just as festive, and far less expensive. Make your own decorations or look at our party supply store for some low-cost and beautiful decorations.

5. Make the party Secret Santa, White Elephant, or Yankee Swap. If you can get your guests to participate in this without it turning nasty—come on, guys, it’s Christmas!—this is a great way to eliminate the cost of holiday grab bags or party favors. Instead, you’ll just need to buy one present, and if you set a dollar limit (something very low, like $5), you’ll save some serious cash.

6. Borrow tables and chairs. While you might not need tables, you will probably need more chairs in order to make sure everyone has a place to sit. Instead of going out and buying extra seating, borrow it from some of the guests. If you offer to pick it up yourself, before the party, they’re less likely to say no and be perfectly amenable to helping out. Your local church or event hall might also have some tables or chairs you can borrow on the fly.

Planning a holiday party does not have to break the bank! With these tips, you can seriously cut down on the cost of throwing a party, and still have a great time doing it!

How to Attend Christmas Parties on a Budget

You might not think of Christmas parties being expensive until you’ve actually had to attend three or four in a row, bringing a bottle of wine and gifts to each one. These costs can really stack up and that means less budget for gifts when the holidays actually roll around. We’ve got a couple of tips to help you cut down on the cost of attending all of the parties you want to attend, without offending your hosts or scrimping on holiday cheer.

1. Suggest holiday grab bags, instead of presents for all attendees. Especially if the party is more than a couple people attending, trying to bring presents for everyone is a monumental task, especially if you want them to be personalized and special. Instead, suggest to your host that each person bring one more generic, but still special, present, and everyone exchanges amongst themselves.

2. Ditch the wine. Unless you really know what kind of wine your host prefers, it might be safer to not bring it at all. If they don’t drink it and just let it sit in their cupboard or pantry for the next couple of years, that’s a waste of your money.

3. Remember that you don’t have to attend every party you’re invited to. If you find yourself spending lots of money on holiday sweaters and gifts, it might be best to take a look at the list of parties you are invited to attend and see if you really want to attend all of them. Instead of stretching yourself and your budget thin, focus on the most important parties—those thrown by your close family and friends.

The holidays should be a time of fun and good cheer, not a time of worrying about money. With these simple tips, you’re sure to make your holiday party planning or attending much more reasonable and far less stressful.

Best Christmas Movies

Christmas reindeer

Your halls are already decked and the tree has been trimmed. Your Christmas decorations are on the wall and around the house and when night falls, your lights are bright and burning in the snowy night. You’re ready to really kick the holiday cheer into high gear. It’s time to have a Christmas movie marathon. This is the perfect Christmas party—have your guests bring their favorite flick or vote beforehand on what movies you should watch.

Almost every channel is going to be doling out their version of the Christmas movie, from Christmas episodes of sci-fi shows, to the cheesiest of cheesy made for television Christmas movies on networks like Lifetime. You want the classics. Set your DVR now to make sure that you catch all of the X-mas flicks you want to watch before the season winds down. Alternatively, start checking Netflix now—though they’re bound to add more Christmas movies before the holiday arrives.

Home Alone

A perennial classic, though perhaps not one of the most “Christmas-y” movies out there. It’s a favorite of anyone who was a kid in the 90’s and definitely worth a watch during the Christmas season, even if just to feel happy that your family never forgot about you. It’s got action, it’s got adventure, it’s got heart. If you’ve never seen a Home Alone movie, now is the time.  Watch this first and best rendition, with all sorts of classic Christmas hijinks.

Elf

One of the newest movies on this list, Elf is also one of the funniest and has a great message about believing in Christmas and believing in the people around you. It’s fun for all ages, with slapstick for the kids and enough goofiness to keep even the most disinterested millennial smiling.

A Christmas Carol

Might we suggest the Muppet version? There are plenty of renditions of this Charles Dickens novella and which one you choose depends on your mood. There’s the slightly silly but still poignant Muppet version or the truly terrifying Patrick Stewart version, or the brand new animated movie put out by Disney, starring Jim Carrey. There are plenty of other ones you can snag, as well. Maybe watch a few different ones and compare?

The Nightmare before Christmas

What happens when all the ghouls that make up Halloween find out about Christmas? This is the perfect post-Halloween, pre-Christmas movie, and not just because the animation and story are great. It’s about love, redemption, and finding the holiday spirit.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Another Christmas classic that almost everyone has seen. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth another visit. The holiday season can get so wrapped up in Christmas decorations and buying the perfect gift and making the house look beautiful, that we forget that, despite our religious beliefs, Christmas is about family and good will. That’s what Charlie Brown’s Christmas special is all about.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

There truly is nothing better than the original Claymation Christmas classics. Rudolph’s story is one of perseverance and love, even though his fellow reindeer rejected him. It’s not just a story about Christmas, it’s a story about not being afraid to be who you are and knowing that your talents will be recognized, even if, at first, they are misunderstood.

Frosty the Snowman

Another Claymation short and the source of a favorite Christmas tune, this movie is sure to be loved by children and adults alike. You don’t have to be a child to appreciate Frosty and his great story.

The Year without a Santa Claus

Do you remember that year? Santa got a cold and was just too sick to take presents out to the girls and boys. While this isn’t one of the most popular of the Claymation set, it is definitely one of the most charming, with St. Nick venturing out to Middle America, where it never snows, to rescue two of his daftest elves and poor little Vixen, the reindeer.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

There are two versions of this movie you can watch. If you want the one that is practically ripped straight from the pages of Dr. Seuss, there is the original, animated, half an hour short that is, of course, a favorite. But there is also the live-action version, which tells some of the Grinch’s backstory and amps up the entire movie. Both are good, but if you’re going to watch the Jim Carrey, live-action one, probably start with the cartoon to get a sense of the story.

The Santa Clause

When Tim Allen’s character kills Santa, he’s enlisted in the Santa service. He has to become the next Santa Claus and begins putting on weight and learning the tricks of the trade in order to become the jolly old elf. There are some bumps in the road, of course.

A Christmas Story

While somehow not a favorite among some Christmas movie buffs, this tale is as funny as it is poignant, and TNT even runs a twenty-four hour marathon of this movie across Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It’s a brilliant tale of just what it’s like to be a kid during the holidays, with plenty of laughs and plenty of heart. Don’t skip this movie!

Miracle on 34th Street

For the little kid in all of us who desperately wants Santa Claus to be real—even if we found out, early on, that Santa was actually just your parents and not actually a magic man who came down the chimney to delivery presents to good little girls and boys. This movie is the ultimate for installing holiday cheer. Use it to open your holiday season and to top off your Christmas movie marathon!

How to Plan a Classic Christmas

Holiday striped thigh highs

There’s nothing better than a classic Christmas. Some people like to mix up their holiday celebrations, spice them up with new traditions or test out a new style, but having a classic Christmas, especially if you are inviting a new person into your family or starting a family of your own, can be a great way to celebrate this holiday.

But what does a classic Christmas consist of? There is the tree, the xmas decorations, the meal, the presents, and the traditions. While you don’t necessarily have to stick to this list, you can find some great inspiration here for the ultimate in Christmas-y Christmases. Take these traditions and give them your own twist!

The Tree

While an artificial Christmas tree may save money, it can lack that necessary life that a real tree can bring into the room. Half the fun of putting up a tree is getting to go to the tree yard—or even out to the forest—and picking out the tree that you want. There is no specific breed that is particularly synonymous with Christmas, but the standard is a green, full tree that is about seven feet tall.

Of course, there are many variations of this tree, ranging from the very tall and lush, to the short and wispy, a la A Charlie Brown Christmas. Find the tree that best matches your decorations and your idea of the right Christmas tree. Some prefer a blue spruce, while others like a more classic color and scent.

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

If you have room for a larger tree, there is something grand about a towering tree, though it may be difficult to decorate without a ladder. In smaller spaces, a short, squat tree can be just as charming, especially if it matches the scale of the room.

Living in an apartment or in a small house, you may simply not have room for a Christmas tree, whether it is fake or real. In this instance, you can get a little creative with your tree decorations, including make a life-sized paper tree to hang on your wall and surround with presents, or stringing green-wired twinkle lights in a tree shape, to the same effect.

The Meal

Christmas foods will vary from region to region (and certainly from country to country). Planning the perfect classic Christmas dinner may depend heavily on your family’s traditions from the past and the region where you live. For example, crab is considered a classic part of the Christmas meal in California, while the case is quite the opposite, here on the east coast. Tamales are classic in the Southwest, but are rarely part of the traditional Christmas meal outside of this region.

Some of the most ubiquitous and classic items you might want to add to your Christmas meal are as follows:

• Apple cider
• Eggnog (come on, who has Christmas without eggnog?)
• Fruitcake – though maybe just for show, not actually for eating
• Gingerbread (for houses and for eating)
• Ham
• Mashed potatoes
• Pecan pie
• Apple pie
• Plum pudding
• Stuffing
• Turkey

Make the meal your own by choosing your favorite dishes from this list. Things like turkeys and hams are popular because they can roast in the oven for hours with needing much attention. Choosing smaller cuts of meat may be easier to cook, especially if you are not cooking a feast for a horde, but rather a small meal for a few close friends or family members.

The Decorations

Christmas decorations are one of the most important and most fun parts of Christmas. This is really where you get to show off your style and holiday spirit. What better way than with lights and garlands and all manner of Christmas accoutrements? Putting lights up outside is a great way to participate in your neighborhood’s show of good cheer. Even stringing a single strand of lights around the eaves of your house will brighten it! If you prefer to go all-out, you can always add more lights and even yard decorations like lighted reindeer or snowmen.

Decorating the tree is a highlight of every year’s celebrations. This is usually a family affair, with everyone helping to trim the tree. Some families use a range of ornaments that have sentimental value, while other choose a theme for their tree and stick to it. For example, you might choose red and silver to compliment the natural green of your tree. Gold is also a popular choice, but these days you can find ornaments and lights in any color. Top it off with a star or an angel and you’re done!

Christmas is a great time to deck the halls with garlands and wreaths. You can often buy real garlands and wreaths, made from leftover bows at tree yards, or fake ones (that will leave fewer needles behind) in just about any store during the season.

The Traditions

There are plenty of holiday traditions you can engage in for your classic Christmas. Caroling is one of the most fun, even if you are not exactly Bing Crosby. Bundle up with a group of your friends, take some hot chocolate and grab some sheet music for your favorite Christmas tunes. The people you drop in on will love the extra bit of cheer and you will have fun shuffling through the snow, singing holiday favorites.

Another tradition is taking a tour of Christmas lights in your neighborhood. If you live in a neighborhood that makes a display out of the Christmas season, it can be fun to drive around in your warm car and look at the lights. Many people go above and beyond, even putting music to their light show or building elaborate displays in their front yards. It may sound cheesy, but it’s actually really fun!