Happy Holidays, Peace on Earth, Merry Christmas… or whatever we’re supposed to say these days. Typically within the December month we are working on Corporate Holiday Parties or Staff Appreciation Luncheons, but for those of you that just want to grab a few friends and host a party, here are a few of my favorite low-key Holiday get togethers.
1. The Cookie Swap
Seriously, this is one of my favorite Holiday Traditions. To host a good Cookie Swap you really just need a bunch of friends that love cookies, some bottles of wine, and some good cheese. For an evening affair, host after dinner and provide light appetizers, such as dips or a cheese board, throw on some holiday music, pop open a few bottles of wine (or ten… you know your friends better than I do), and enjoy! Most of the time you end up just talking until the end when you remember you were supposed to be cookie swapping! The best part about this is, that you then end up with an assortment of up to 12-15 different cookies and a ton of new recipes to try.
2. The Ugly Sweater Party
This is always a fun one. Grab a few friends and break out those ugly christmas sweaters. Have some fun games and competitions, and don’t forget to have a competition for best sweater at the end of the night. A white Elephant swap typically goes well with this type of an event. I usually host around dinner time with heavy appetizers such as dips, crudite, canapés, and a few crock pot dishes. Start the evening with a cocktail for each guest as they enter the room, and have a wine and beer station set up throughout the night. Be sure to take lots of pictures! The sillier this gets the better.
3. A Gingerbread Party
This is a great one to do with several families. I typically host in the late morning so that any young children can participate as well. The idea of this one is for each guest to bring a component of the Gingerbread house. One family would provide the cookie pieces, others would bring the candy, the frosting, the boards, etc… Start the party by breaking into teams and setting your structure first thing. After your structures are complete, break for a Brunch and let your structure set. After Brunch, break into your teams and let the decorating contest begin! After the decorating has commenced, have some books and kids games to keep everyone occupied while the votes are places and tallied. Line them up and announce a winner! I mentioned that typically I like to do a brunch for this type of an event. Some brunch ideas are eggs benedict, a mimosa station, a waffle bar, fruit platters, and smoked salmon. The best part of this is that you have a beautiful (hopefully beautiful) cookie centerpiece to take home for your Christmas Table.
4. Dressed up to get Messed Up
This is definitely an Adults only party. I always ask my guests to Dress Black Tie. I start the night off with Cocktails and Appetizers. Continue on the evening with a full DIY Bar stocked for your guests. I always do a coursed meal for this type of event. Salad to Start, a Roast or Duck as the Main course, and tarts or Creme Brûlée for Dessert. Be sure to have your table dressed to the nines as well (it makes for better photos). I also include a Yankee Swap at the end of this one. The Rowdier the Yankee Swap gets the better.
A Festivus for the rest of us! Seriously, this is a great party to throw. Throwing it on the 23rd is tricky because so many people are using that day to prepare for family plans, but talk with your friends to see what would be the most feasible. I do it up complete with a Festivus Pole! Be sure to have Seinfeld playing in the background!
6. A Feast of Seven Fishes
A Christmas Eve tradition! If your family doesn’t have a Christmas Eve tradition this is a fun one to adopt. I usually set the table with “the night before christmas” poem and new Christmas Socks for each guest. We course out each of the Seven Fish Dishes. We always begin with Oysters and always End with Baccala. We fill the evening with more wine than we know what to do with and typically will not do a formal dessert. I usually get a plate of tarts or Italian cookies to finish off the meal. Afterwards we all give hugs and look forward to Christmas morning!
7. A Twelfth Night Party
I will be honest. I know next to nothing about this Holiday. This made the list because a good friend of mine threw an amazing Twelfth Night Party a few years back and all I have wanted to do was relive it. This is said to be the day where the Wise Men brought their gifts to the baby Jesus (because they weren’t actually at the stable guys… duh!). This holiday is mainly European. America seems to still be on a Christmas Hangover this time of year and can’t seem to stomach another Party. After ample Research about the 12th Night party I have come across a couple traditions. To start everyone must bring a gift wrapped in gold. This is like a grab bag type of drawing. No names are assigned. For the dinner make twelve healthy appetizers, since everyone is still trying to burn off those holiday calories. The dessert is the main attraction. Each guest is given a small piece of cake and whoever gets the dried bean becomes the King and Queen of Twelfth Night. Also, it is apparently mandatory to sing 12 Days of Christmas (of course)! Learn More Here.