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.

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.

How to Throw the Ultimate Christmas Party

Christmas Reindeer Decorations

It rolls around every year—it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most stressful, especially if you are trying to throw a great Christmas party. You want it to be something unique, not just the same party as last year or the same party that everyone else is throwing. Luckily, we have ten great party themes that no one else will be using, that will enable you to throw a fun and unique Christmas party. Our ideas even come complete with Christmas decorations and ways to ensure that you have the best possible party!

1. Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

Image Courtesy of Esquire.com

The ugly holiday sweater is a winter staple of the older generation. You’ve seen them—with their dorky prints and silly characters. They don’t fit well and they look terrible on everyone. That’s what makes this party fun! Not only does it eliminate the anxiety about what to wear to the party, it creates a communal, comfortable atmosphere perfect for mingling and holiday fun!

Either encourage your guests to hit the local thrift stores (or department stores), to pick up an ugly holiday sweater, or do it yourself and have a selection for guests to choose from when they walk through the door. If your friends are a crafty bunch, the focus of your party could even been making ugly sweaters! Grab a few sweatshirts and go crazy with tinsel, ribbon, and fabric paint.

2. The “Summer” Christmas Party

If you live somewhere that is hit hard by winter weather, December is just about the time when everyone starts craving some warmer weather. Make your party a beach party. Crank up the heat a little and encourage bathing suits and talk of the beach. Plan a fun luau and try to forget that the weather outside is frightful!

3. A Tree Decorating Party

This idea is perfect for newlyweds and young people who are living on their own for the first time. While the holidays can sometimes be lonely when you are away from your immediate family, you can still evoke the sense of family and holiday fun by planning a decorating party with your friends. Set up your tree and then have everyone bring decorations. Play holiday music, lay out the cookies and milk, and have a great time hanging your ornaments. Plug in the lights and talk about your favorite holiday traditions.

4. Cookie Swap

Nothing is more iconic for Christmas than a plate of Christmas cookies. You always leave them out for Santa, but what if he’s bored of the same old cookies you leave him every year? A cookie swap can help you freshen up your offerings. Even if you’re beyond believing in the jolly old elf, a cookie swap can help you switch up your own holiday indulgences and is a great way to pay tribute to the Christmas traditions of your youth.

5. Wrapping Party

Even if you’re a pro wrapper, wrapping presents by yourself can be lonely. And if you’re among those of us who aren’t so skilled with the paper and tape, wrapping usually results in a mini meltdown. Instead of going it alone, call together your friends and wrap your presents together (preferably, not the ones you’ve purchase for each other). With a little help from the craftier among your group, you’ll come out with a pile of perfectly wrapped presents and a few new memories.

6. The Holiday Movie Festival

Image Courtesy of TBS

You’re probably going to binge-watch holiday movies and holiday-themed episodes of your favorite television shows anyway—so why not do it as a group? Set up a couple different viewing venues or crowd in front of one scene and vote on what to watch. For added fun, make everyone take a shot of peppermint schnapps (or eggnog) whenever someone dressed as Santa appears.

7. Twelve Days of Christmas Food

Assign each one of your guests a different day from the twelve days of Christmas and invite them to bring their best dish that has to do with that theme. It could be a desert, a main dish, or an appetizer but it has to apply! Then, gather together and sample the offerings. If you want to make sure you have a balanced meal, make sure to assign a course along with the day.

8. Christmas Karaoke

Everyone loves singing and hearing Christmas music! You can host a great karaoke party right in your home, with just a few simple decorations and Christmas party supplies. Pick up a karaoke machine and laugh and dance and sing as you and your friends belt out holiday classics. Take some time creating your playlist, with a mix of new and old Christmas favorites, or pick a theme.

9. Re-Gifting Party

Everyone inevitably gets at least one gift that just isn’t right for them. Do you return it? Do you throw it out when no one is looking? No! You encourage your friends to bring it to your re-gifting party. Someone else is bound to want it—either for real, or as a gag. You can even employ the White Elephant or Yankee Swap method to keep the party moving.

10. Christmas Dress-Up

Remember when you were young and your parents would stuff you into that holiday-themed dress to attend the annual Christmas party? This is like that—but the adult version. Have everyone dress up in their fanciest dress or as a beloved Christmas character and start the mingling. If you’re feeling adventurous and it’s not too cold or snowy to be out on the town, you could even turn it into a pub crawl.