Parties & Events

 
 


 

 
Parties and events add fun and camaraderie to the Christmas season. They boost Christmas spirit and allow us to spend cherished time with family and friends, as well as to make new friends and festive memories. Here are some ideas for Christmas parties and events to liven up your Christmas season!




 

 








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 Christmas Caroling Party

Organizing a caroling outing is an old fashioned tradition that will bring joy to you and your friends, as well as those who pass you by. You don't have to be a great singer, don't even have to practice, if you know most of the traditional tunes! Just purchase some Christmas carol books, gather friends & family, and decide on a place to sing. You may want to get permission to sing in front of a store or business, or you might choose to wander the streets of your neighborhood. Bring a small brass or metal container to gather donations, which you can then turn over to your chosen charity. A warm home, offering hot mulled cider and cookies will cheer the carolers, after the singing is done!




 
 
 


 
Christmas Cookie Swap Party


Get together with friends for a Christmas cookie swap party! Everyone bakes 4 dozen of their favorite Christmas cookie recipe and brings them to the party (one dozen is donated to the "sampling" cookie platters). You'll need a large table to display all the containers of cookies, and several plates or platters for the "sampling" cookies. Each person at the party brings a foil baking pan or other container to take their cookies home in. When everyone has arrived and enjoyed some mulled cider or egg nog and sampled the cookies, a line forms around the cookie table. Depending on how many guests you have, each guest takes a certain number of cookies from each of the different batches and adds to her container. You go home with three dozen cookies of various types to enjoy!

Here is a wonderful article about cookie swap parties that will help you with ideas!



Gift Exchange Options at Christmas Parties



There are several fun  ways that you can arrange a gift exchange for your party or event at Christmas time. Gag gifts are one option. An exchange of gag gifts should be done with everyone sitting in one room together, and each person opening his/her gift, one at a time. This way, everyone is included in the joke, and much laughter and friendly teasing adds cheer to the gift-giving. One advantage of the gag gift is that they can be very inexpensive to buy. If you want a cheaper option for gift giving, you might consider having gag gifts.

Otherwise, you should always specify the price range for gifts that are to be brought to a party or event. You don't want someone to be embarrassed when their gift from the Dollar Tree is opened, and the other gifts were all more expensive. Nor do you want a guest to be disappointed with what they receive, since they brought a more expensive item to give. You can set your gift range from $1 to $3, $3 to $5, $5 to $10, etc. Don't simply say "less than $10", because that leaves too wide a range for the gift exchange to be equitable. Don't forget to mention that any hand-made gifts must not be worth more than the upper end of your range, if they were to sell the item at a crafts fair, for example.



Secret Santa is a nice option too, and works best when the participants all know one another fairly well, such as for a work party or family party. It lends the gift giving process an element of mystery and surprise. With a Secret Santa option, you would ideally have everyone put their names into a box on slips of paper, and each person draws a name. (If it's their own, they put it back, of course, and draw again) No one must reveal whose name they have drawn!! This will be the person for whom they will purchase a gift. Here too, be sure to set a price range.

If you are not going to be together with the group before Christmas in order to draw names, however, there is an online option that will set your Secret Santa gift swap up for you, using email and random assigning of names. This free service can be found here. (SecretSanta.com)

Secret Santa gifts should be brought to the party with the person's name on it who is to receive the gift, but no name of the giver. The gifts are all placed under the tree, or on a table until time to open them. When the guests all open their gifts, they must guess who it was who got the gift for them! The giver, if guessed, should admit that it was in fact them.



A Yankee Swap is another gift giving variation, and may be used in situations where the guests may not know one another. For a Yankee Swap, each guest brings a gift (within the stated price range), wrapped, but with no name on the gift. All gifts are gathered in one central place. Each guest, as they arrive, are asked to pull a number (up to how many guests there are) out of a box.

When it's time for exchanging gifts, the guest who drew #1 is allowed to go up to the gift table, pick up, shake, examine the gifts, and he/she chooses one to take back to his/her seat. All watch this guest open their gift and it is held up or perhaps passed around for all to see. Then #2 goes up and chooses his/her gift, returns to his/her seat and opens it. #2 shows the gift to everyone, then must decide if he/she would prefer to keep the gift they got, or "swap" it for the gift that #1 has!

The gift opening continues in numerical order, and each person who opens a gift may either keep their gift, or swap it for any other gift that has been previously opened. (Everyone must be prepared and willing to give up their gift if another guest wishes to swap theirs for it!)

Once every guest has opened a gift and either swapped it or not, the guest who drew #1 gets to either keep the gift he/she has at this point, or swap it for any of the other gifts. Therefore, it is most advantageous to draw #1.

 
Hay Ride/Sleigh Ride Party


If you are lucky enough to live in or near an area with dependable snow cover in December, a sleigh ride makes a wonderful holiday party, and you don't have the stress of entertaining in your home during the holiday season. If not, a hayride on a horse-drawn cart along some wooded lanes can be just as festive. Print out and copy off a dozen of your favorite Christmas songs (don't forget "Jingle Bells" and "Sleigh Ride"!) to pass out to everyone, or buy some small carol books, so you can sing as you glide (or roll) along! Pack a canvas tote bag with thermoses of hot mulled cider and/or cocoa, and a few containers of Christmas cookies to pass around with disposable cups and napkins. (Bring a trash bag, so you don't leave a mess!) Take plenty of photos, this is something you'll want to remember! One option would be to meet after the ride for a buy-your-own brunch at a cozy restaurant.



Christmas Plays and Concerts


Why not get together with some friends and attend a local Christmas stage production or concert? If you live in or near a metropolitan area, the choices will be endless. A classic play like A Christmas Carol or The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is always heartwarming, and attending a concert of Handel's Messiah will leave you with chills of holiday joy. Even smaller towns will often have a local theater group or high school that is putting on a Christmas play or concert. If you're able to attend a big city ballet production of The Nutcracker, do not miss it! Buy tickets as far ahead as possible and you and your friends can meet at a cozy bar or restaurant after the show! 

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