Remember your favorite holiday party? No? Then you’re in the right place. If you do, there was obviously something special about that party that made it stand out from the pack of annual fêtes hosted by your friends, families, neighbors, employers, and volunteer organizations. But really, all that separates the ho-hum from the ho-ho-ho is a little planning and a few creative activities beyond the traditional gift exchange. May the ideas below inspire you to host a holiday party your guests will long remember—and eagerly await next year.
Pet Holiday Party
What could be more fun than dressing up your goofy Labradoodle in an elf costume? Or your grumpy tabby cat in reindeer antlers? Proud parents of fur babies will relish this opportunity to mingle and take holiday card-worthy photos. Offer prizes for the most creative costumes and be sure to get playful with some pet-themed refreshments. Like these bone-shaped pretzels or paw-print cupcakes.
For families of Mexican heritage, this is classic, multigenerational holiday bonding time. Join in the fun by inviting guests to participate in this tasty, skill-building event. Before your guests arrive, prepare (or buy) masa, corn husks, and filling. Together, perhaps over a pitcher of sangria, hand-roll Christmas tamales. Everyone can eat their fill and take home the extras, too. Need instruction? Watch this video.
Christmas Carol-aoke Night
Of course, you can always go old school and take the party outside for caroling around your neighborhood. (The friendly community of Stepping Stone is the perfect place for that.) But you can also belt out holiday classics while staying warm and cozy inside. Buy or borrow a karaoke set and sit back and enjoy the show as your guests channel their inner Michael Buble or Mariah Carey.
Gingerbread House Decorating Contest
Unleash the creativity—and laughs—when you turn this traditional pastime into a competition. Prepare (or buy) your gingerbread walls and stock up on decorating supplies, both traditional and unexpected. Select a judge and toss out a wacky theme. Award prizes for Most Creative, Most Random, or Most Precariously Constructed. For kids, simplify with a gingerbread cookie decorating party.
Support Your Favorite Charity Party
Here’s a party with a purpose, and one that makes every guest feel good. Choose a favorite charity to support, and invite each guest to bring appropriate gifts. For example, a new toy for Toys for Tots, nonperishables for Food Bank of the Rockies, or choose a family from Denver Rescue Mission’s Adopt-a-Family program and donate items such as grocery store gift cards, toys, or clothing.
Yes, you could host a cookie exchange or potluck dinner, but a more stand-out way to share is the cocktail potluck. Ask friends to bring their favorite cocktail mix instead of food. (Which you should definitely provide.) Half the fun is making the concoctions on the spot. Set the tone by sharing the drink you’ll be providing—e.g., eggnog, candy cane cocktails, or perhaps another beverage from this selection of The Best Holiday Drinks by Food Network.
A Christmas Story Party Theme
Many a family can quote from the oft-aired, sweetly subversive holiday movie, A Christmas Story. This comedy set in the 1940s offers ideal nostalgic fodder for a party, as described in this list of 9 Unique Company Holiday Party Themes. Foods from the movie might include duck and turkey, along with Coke in glass bottles, vintage candy, or perhaps root beer floats. Décor could include iconic leg lamp string lights and activities such as a shoot-the-balloon carnival game with prizes like a decoder pin or jar of Ovaltine. (Once you’ve seen the movie, this all makes sense.)