Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Christmas Recipes and Traditions

Holiday Party Ideas
Everyone loves a party. Good parties consist of several different elements: food, fun and guest interaction. (Have you ever been to a middle school dance and the boys are on one side, the girls on the other, and no one is dancing?)

Food can be as easy as a Pot Luck, where everyone brings a dish of some sort, to a catered affair or restaurant setting. It can be a sit-down meal or a buffet of finger foods. You can theme the foods served and brought, or even challenge guests to bring traditional holiday colors. 
For instance, Christmas party-goers could be asked to bring food that is either green or red. Of course, there might be an  overflow of salads and salsa, so you might want to supply the main entree (it could be spaghetti red or wraps using soft green spinach tortillas). Whatever the outcome, it will be very interesting!

If your guests don't know each other well, an Ice Breaker is a good idea. You can ask them to fill out a Bingo grid, with each square representing a person with certain qualities or requirements (red hair, only child, born out-of-state, etc). An example is shown here, but you can find blank Bingo templates and fill in your own fun ideas. Another Ice Breaker is a Scavenger Hunt, either using the same questions about other guests, or asking them to find some item on other guests (ornament earrings, red shoes, holiday tie, etc). 

After guests have had their meal or munchies, you can offer entertainment or games. Let your guests get creative with stations for making their own holiday cards, decorations or even Gingerbread Houses. The houses can be made simply out of graham crackers and Royal frosting, or home-baked, or from kits, while guests can bring "sweet" decorations to share.

Gift Swapping games include Dirty Santa, which is another name for grab bag; Ornament or Cookie Exchanges, where everyone who brings will receive; Pass the Package, which is better if gifts brought are themed, like sweets, gift cards of a specific value, tree ornaments, etc. Guests sit or stand in a circle passing packages around the circle while someone reads a story or music is played. When the story or music stops, everyone opens their package.

My favorite swapping game not only gives to each other, but gives to the marginalized as well. Everyone buys a pair of men's white tube socks. One gets filled up with sample-sized items such as shampoo, soap, comb, tissues, etc. (something that can be taken home or put into a backpack, if homeless). The other sock is the "wrapping paper" of the gift for another guest. We play a swapping game with these socks, and before each guest goes home, they take out their gift and roll their sock up and stuff it into a donation sock so that a pair of socks goes with the personal items. Food pantries and the American Red Cross will gladly take these to distribute. 

The same can be done with items to be sent to deployed troops, but first check the internet to make sure you send only the items on their safe list! Here's one that covers most of the western world when it comes to not only sending donations to deployed servicemen and women, but writing them encouraging notes as well:

Whether your party is big or small, for work, family or friends, remember one thing - - - have fun and get into the spirit of the holidays. They only come around once a year!

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