The best present you can give anyone on Christmas is a party to remember. This lasting memory will trump any material gifts, for as we grow up, we tend to remember good times more vividly than good things. I recall my last Christmas party at a friend’s house to be a real joyous occasion, and I remembered it not only for the succulent turkey (he’s a great cook, so said turkey will be etched in my memory for eternity), but also for his generous hospitality and the warm company of our friends, among many other things.
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If you have always been more of an attendee than a host/hostess of a party, then you cannot possibly imagine the hassle of planning a get-together! Having asked your guests save the eve of Christmas for your event, there’s the pressure of having to make the party fun for everyone. Sure enough, it doesn’t have to be out-of-the-world crazy, but it has to be as amazing as the beach party or massive countdown they passed on to be at your place.
So if you’re an amateur host/hostess, this checklist will give you some tips to start somewhere. And even if you’re a seasoned Christmas party planner, you may find some new ideas here to make your 2013 party a little different – just so you don’t catch anyone yawning in the midst of the program.
I like to think that there are three ways to assemble a wonderful spread for Christmas.
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First – If you’re confident in the kitchen, or if you’ve always secretly thought of yourself as a closet Masterchef, channel your inner Gordon Ramsay and whip up a feast for your guests! It isn’t all that hard to come up with a menu for your party. After all, nobody’s really looking to have a ten-course meal at a party right? You can’t go wrong with the traditional Christmas dishes like oven-roasted turkey, Christmas ham, salads and baked pies. If you’re good with the confectionery, and have loads of time to spare, you can even consider baking your own log cake or cookies! Homemade goodness always win packed goods hands down.
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If your kitchen is a breeding ground for disaster or if you’re a klutz with the oven and the mixer, like yours truly, we strongly recommend that you do not attempt at all! The pre-party hours is not a good time to experiment with the crockery and equipment, especially if the kitchen is a foreign place to you and everything looks like apparatus in a science laboratory. Here’s a solutions that can feed your guests without burning the house down – order take out!
If it is a small party you are hosting with not so many people, you can consider calling for delivery from pizza or pasta joints. If it is a large crowd you’re having over, opt for catering! You wouldn’t even have to bother yourself with the set-up and the tear-down and can possibly spend the time interacting with your guests instead – something not many hosts/hostesses have time to do.
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Alternatively, you can organize a potluck dinner where every guest of yours can contribute something to the Christmas spread. Whether is it a couple of pizzas or a big pot of homemade minestrone, there’s bound to be enough quantity and variety to go around. It’s also a great way to have everyone involved and enjoy Christmas feasting the communal and old-fashioned way. If you are expecting a small group of people, perhaps you can even have a cook-off!
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There is hardly a problem with trying to get children to play games at parties. All you have to do is wave a candy cane in their face or present a Christmas sock stuffed with goodies, and the little ones would gladly comply. But if your guests are mostly adults, then you’re going to have create and adapt games that a grown woman in a Ferragamo dress wouldn’t mind getting up to participate in!
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If there is one activity that never grows old at party, it would be charades. It’s not everyday that you get to see your friends do funny and dramatic actions without speech in front of a large crowd, and there is no better time to share this sort of comical joy than at a party! We found a list of 25 games here which you may find useful. Of course, feel free to add twists here and there to accommodate the nature and personalities of your guests! Out of the 25, I think my favorite may have to be this:
Two truths and a lie. This is a great ice breaker! Each person tells two stories about themselves, two of which are true and one that is not. A great Christmas twist is to name their three worst Christmas gifts; two would be true and one would be false.
For the record, gathering on the couch and watching Christmas movie reruns is not really a program! Even though yes – Love Actually is indeed the most timeless Christmas flick ever.
3. Gift Exchange
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Christmas is the season of giving…and receiving! No Christmas party is complete without a Christmas tree spectacularly decorated with all its glittery ornaments and such. And no Christmas tree is complete without a hoard of beautifully wrapped presents at its foot! And no, we do not mean that you have to dig deep into your pockets to sponsor the purchase of all these gifts, for there are so many ways around it.
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For starters, you can have each guest bring a gift of their choice to the party. Make the budget known to your guests so that the gifts would all be of similar values. We’re sure that nobody would bring an expensive vintage bottle of white wine and go home with a box of chocolates, right?
You may want to spice things up by making the entire gift exchange saga a big game! Below are two ways of exchanging gifts that we find especially refreshing (Courtesy to LifeDaily.com)
13. Christmas gift fact exchange.
Number each gift as it arrives. Give the person who brought the gift a corresponding number. Get them to write a little known fact about themselves, and throw it into a bowl. When gift exchange starts, the host draws a fact and reads it without mentioning the package number. The person who guesses who it is first is given the package with the corresponding number. Once someone guesses correctly, they are out of the game. The game ends when there is one gift left for the host.
14. Get what you really want gift game.
Have each person bring a wrapped gift for himself. Gifts are all mixed up and passed out. Everyone opens one gift, then must guess who bought it. Have a list of everyone at the party so people can write down their guesses. Whoever has the most correct guesses wins. To spice it up, have everyone donate $1 to the pot. The winner gets the pot.
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Also, if you have extra budget to spare and if you’re feeling generous about Christmas, you can use the money to prepare a little door gift for all your guests to welcome them! A small token sounds good, but if you don’t wish to go to the trouble of having to brainstorm for yet another gift idea, here’s a tip: Nobody says no to a gingerbread man with icing at the sides.
In our previously published article Tips For Spicing Up Your Event, we established that a photo booth is an event’s way of creating buzz and excitement! And since the ultimate objective is to give your guests a good time to remember in the years to come, what better way to do than with photographs that they can keep?
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If you’re not looking to employ a professional set-up, it is always fun to go DIY and personalize your own photo booth beside the Christmas tree! In fact, go all out and have loads of fun with it. Put up a patterned background (or a few, for that matter) and bring out all the props (think wigs, masks, signs) and let your guests have fun with it. It will hype up the atmosphere for sure!
We hope you find these tips useful! If you’re looking to dine out on Christmas instead of throwing a house party, you may want to read our previous article: The 5 Special Places For Your Christmas Dinner – a feature of some of Singapore’s most popular buffet restaurants that will make a perfect venue.
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