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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Traditions: Parties

We love Traditions around here and one that makes the holiday season even more fun are the parties.  Here are a few of my favorite Party Ideas:


Cookie Exchange 


There are many variations, but the one that I like best is when everyone selects their favorite cookie recipe.  They will need to prepare one dozen cookies for each person attending.  So if you have invited 5 guests each will need to bring 6 dozen cookies.  One dozen for you.  One for them.  And one dozen for each of the remaining 4 guests.

The day before the party have your guests e-mail you their cookie recipes so you can have them printed and ready to distribute.  Be sure to have enough copies of each recipe so that everyone takes home each of the recipes.  While you are at it, make labels for the cookies as well. 

Have cute take home containers ready.  Anything from paper plates to Chinese take-out containers work.  Just be sure it is something your guests won't have to hassle with returning to you.

Be sure to have plenty of goodies and drinks for your guests.  I like serve fruits, veggies, crackers and cheeses so that my guests have something less sweet .  Then just sit back, relax and enjoy your party.  


Death By Chocolate


Again, this is for those of us with a sweet tooth.  Ask each of your guests to bring something sinfully delicious with chocolate as the star.  This is a huge favorite with my friends who love chocolate as much as I do.  We like to make this a ladies night only.  Leave the hubbies and kid-o's home, go to your favorite restaurant for dinner and then have a death by chocolate dessert.  WOW!  Don't forget to bring copies of your recipe along, as I'm sure everyone will want a copy.


White Elephant or Yankee Swap


The rules for White Elephant Gift Exchange are so varied.  I have played many versions and the one I like best involve a little more competition than the ones where you read a story passing the gifts left and right around a circle.  (Here is a great story if you would like to give it a try:  Left, Right, The Night Before Christmas Game.)  In my family the rules are simple.  We sit in a circle with the gifts in a pile in the middle.  Someone (usually the youngest goes first) picks a present.  They open the gift.  Then it's the next persons turn.  They may either steal an opened gift or select a present from the pile.  If a gift is stolen, the person who just lost their gift then takes a turn to select a present from the pile or steal a gift from someone else.  We set a limit that a gift can only be stolen 3 times after the initial unwrapping.  That way the game ends, eventually.

The definition of a White Elephant Gift is something that costs more to maintain than is worth.  Keep that in mind while shopping/savaging for your White Elephant Gift, but anything useless is always fun.  A few of the items we "won" last year included:  a large McDonald's bag of individual servings of ketchup, a Styrofoam head, and a collection of cords to various electronics that had gone the way of the dump.  My mom always hides a treat in her gifts and my grandma usually adds some money somewhere.  So if you know someone who is notorious for adding a little something extra, pay close attention when they add their gifts to the pile and work on your poker face when you open the gift and keep the goodie hidden.  You don't want to let on you actually got something good.   

A word to the wise...don't pick the "pretty" gift.  In my experience that is always a sign that you are getting something really awful. 





Ugly Sweater Party  

(This picture is my favorite part of this whole post.)


Ugly Sweater Parties are a fashion show and a party all in one.  What could be better!

First things first...you need an ugly sweater.  HERE is my favorite place to buy them.  Also, check your local thrift and second hand stores.  They usually have some this time of year.  

Second:  Plan a few fun games to keep your guests entertained.  Maybe have a White Elephant Exchange.  

Third:  Food!  (May I suggest a pot luck) Be sure to have lots and Lots of good things to eat and drink as your guests will be hungry since they will be to embarrassed to go out before the party.  Last year my husband and I, after sitting in the parking lot at the grocery store saying "I'm not going in"  "Well, I'm not going in", ended up at the McDonald's drive through and got a bunch of hamburgers and apple pies to take as our pot luck item.  When we got to the party we learned we where not the only ones with the same problem.

Prizes:  Don't forget you will need prizes for the ugliest, ugly sweater.  My husband who won first place in the Ugly Sweater Contest last year took home a gallon of milk.  The point is, it's an ugly sweater party...just make it fun. 


Caroling Party


All you need to pull a Caroling Party off is:  A group of friends and/or family who enjoy singing, song books, and something hot cocoa or cider and cookies for after the caroling.  You can go door to do or just stay in and gather round the tree and sing.  What a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays.

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