Coming up with good Christmas party ideas can be tough. If you're arranging a Christmas party, whether it's for family, friends or work, you want everybody to have a good time.
Nobody likes to be the host of a party that folks, even if it is just some of the guests, will remember as boring, much less a flop. But don't worry, read on, take what you can use, use it, and only good things are likely to happen.
In order to make sure your party is a good one, you need to understand the key elements of successful Christmas parties. You need to consider how to tailor food, drinks, games, decorations and gift exchanges to suit your guests. You've come to the right place, because all that and more is covered in this article.
Christmas Party Ideas: The Christmas Party Invitation
First rule of a good party: send invitations out early and make sure everyone knows what day it is. People are busy at this time of year, so sending out invitations at late notice is a good way to ensure few people turn up. You have to let people know well in advance. However, if you send out invitations too early, some people may forget and end up making other commitments. Which is why you'll want to send out several rounds of invitations. At least two, and perhaps three:
The first one, way too early (which why it is the one you may decide to skip if you want), maybe six to eight weeks before the 'shindig'. That one is just an early 'warning', a note to reserve the date. (You can easily do this by email or Facebook - provided ALL of those you invite use that ... remember, a few folks don't).
The next round of Christmas invitations you send out might be about three weeks before the actual party - this one is the actual invitation.
And the final one is another casual reminder to everyone a week before - just to say how excited you are about the party. (Again, email or Facebook are prime choices).
When it comes to choosing the actual invitations themselves, think about your guests. If you're sending them to a casual group of friends, there's no point splashing out on fancy formal invitations. On the other hand, if it's a professional Christmas dinner for work colleagues you'll want to put some money into getting high quality Christmas party invitations made up.
Christmas Party Ideas: Christmas Dinner Party Ideas
The Christmas dinner party is the pinnacle of party organization for some people. It's more formal than an after-work Christmas drinks and if you're organizing it, you probably feel like it needs to be 'perfect.' For starters, while putting that kind of pressure on yourself can be motivating it often leaves you feeling stressed out – remember, you should be able to enjoy your party as well!
Our first suggestion would be: don't try to do it alone. Enlist the help of family members or friends who you trust in the kitchen. If you're cooking for a large group you're going to have to coordinate a lot of food, so even little things like having someone help you set the table and carry food out to the dining room can make a big difference.
If you've somehow drawn the short straw and have to host a Christmas party for your friends but you're not very enthusiastic about it, you might consider catering, but there's also an easier and cheaper solution: get everyone to bring their own food. You can either ask everyone to bring their own dinner dish (try to coordinate this beforehand so you know what everyone's bringing – you don't want five different potato salads turning up) – or you can handle the main course yourself and just ask everyone to bring their own appetizers or bake some interesting Christmas cookies to share around.
Christmas Party Ideas: Christmas Party Activities
With a younger crowd, especially kids, you'll want to make sure you have some games arranged so nobody gets bored. You know what your guests like – if they're pretty casual, go with some fun games. If you know they won't be into that sort of thing, steer clear of games and focus on providing other activities.
As usual, the key to being a good host is anticipating what will appeal to your guests and planning for it in advance with Christmas party ideas that'll appeal to your crowd. This is where many people go wrong with finding Christmas party ideas – they worry too much about what will make them look like a good host, rather than focusing on arranging things their guests will really enjoy. Just put yourself in their shoes ... And remember, you're actually doing this for your guests, not for yourself - that always makes for the best party!
If you'd like a fairly relaxed night, there's no need to try to come up with Christmas party ideas that will make your party any more active than it needs to be. If you're stressed from work and all you want to do is kick back and relax, here's an easy Christ party idea: turn the party into a mix of quick dinner and movie night – rent some of your favorite Christmas classics from throughout the year and play them back to back. This works best for a small group of up to 8 or 10 people. Any group bigger than that is likely to have at least some members who get restless, so you'll have to have some other Christmas party activities planned.
Of course, pulling Christmas crackers is an old favorite. Usually you lay out the Christmas crackers along with your dinner table layout so everyone can pull them while they're waiting for food to be served. You may want to spend a bit of money to get high quality, as cheap ones tend to contain barely-readable jokes and 'toys' which are essentially just flimsy pieces of plastic. That said, don't expect anything too fancy from expensive Christmas crackers – but at least they look nice.
Of course some people have been known to slip their own messages and jokes (printed or hand written on little slips of paper) into the Christmas crackers they've bought. This isn't hard to do, and you can use this as a basis for fun and Christmas games. This is actually a nice way to start another round of Christmas party activities, such as e.g.:
- Guess the Christmas Carol (where players must mime out known Christmas carols and the others guess it)
- Find the Christmas Ornament (the name says it all, this is one of those Christmas party activities that exist in countless variations)
- Marshmallow Snowball Toss (where contestants in teams must throw marshmallows a certain distance to other team members who must catch them in their mouth)
Christmas Party Ideas: Christmas Party Themes
It might seem obvious that the theme for your party should be Christmas, but does it really have to be? It's your choice. But if you so desire, there are plenty of Christmas 'sub-themes' to choose from that can spark new Christmas party ideas and make your night more memorable.
For example, do you want to go with traditional decorations and food that tastes like it might have been the sort of thing the Virgin Mary would have eaten in Bethlehem 2000 years ago? Or do you want to go for a modern look, using the images of Santa, the reindeer and the North Pole?
You could decorate your whole house like Santa's workshop at the North Pole, with random toys lying around, cotton wool as fake snow and an elf costume for yourself. Or you could deck out your living room with a life-size nativity scene, and get everyone to come in costume as wise men wearing sandals and robes.
The possibilities are limitless when it comes to choosing a 'theme within a theme.'
You don't have to stick with something 'traditional' at all. For instance, it's a pretty widespread joke that everyone gets ugly knitted sweaters from their grandparents at Christmas – almost everyone can remember a year when they got a really ugly item of clothing from a family member, or a really bad gift. You can make lame gifts the theme for your whole party – get everyone to bring along the worst gift they've ever received (if they threw it away, just get them to buy something equally lame or wear some kind of unfashionable Christmas clothing).
The 80s party theme is another fun option – everyone dresses up in Christmas clothes, with plenty of red and green, but it has to be 80s style clothing. The more spandex the better.
It's worth remembering, as well, that many of your friends may not actually be of the Christian faith. This is especially true if you live in a big city like New York. If you have Muslims, Jews and Buddhists attending your party, it might not be such a good idea to go with a nativity theme. Instead, if you have a cross section of different cultures and religions, you should reflect this in the theme of your party. Most countries influenced by Christianity celebrate Christmas, albeit in very different ways – so if you have foreign friends, ask them to wear something or bring an item that relates to Christmas in their home country. This idea makes for many great conversation starters.
Christmas Party Ideas: Christmas Party Appetizers
Every good party host knows the 'nibble' food is super important. You need appetizers that are tasty, unique and fit the occasion. They can't be too small, but at the same time you don't want them to be so filling they'll ruin everyone's appetite if you're putting a meal on later.
When it comes to Christmas time, you generally don't have to worry too much about calorie counts – most people through caution to the wind when it comes to diets around Christmas, so you can go crazy with as much sugar, salt and fatty food as you like.
It's usually a good idea to have a balance between sweet and savory. If you're going to have any vegetarians at your party, you should also make an attempt to cater for them.
Fruit Christmas pies are a common appetizer in many countries, and little mince pies and savories can also go down a treat. Cookies and pastries are pretty essential snack food for any good Christmas party.
If you're hosting an upmarket party for work friends and clients, you might want something a little more fancy. Fruit appetizers with cream can be a good choice on such an occasion – strawberries with whipped cream go down a treat.
Most people are expecting plenty of savory appetizers from a Christmas party, so throwing in a few unusual fruity foods can be a good way to set yourself apart. If your guests are adults, feel free to add a bit of sherry to the mix – this gives your appetizers a pleasant tang that most people will associate with Christmas.
Christmas Party Ideas: Christmas Party Jokes & Games
Having a few good jokes to tell is always a good plan for when there's a lull in conversation – even if they're totally ridiculous. The jokes that come in some Christmas crackers are usually pretty groan-worthy, so you'll want to look to some higher quality comedians for lines that will get a few laughs. Here are a couple of jokes to get you going:
'What do you call a polar bear with ear muffs on? It doesn't matter, he can't hear you.'
'What do you call a lion at the North Pole? Lost.'
'What happened when the snowman made his girlfriend mad? She gave him the cold shoulder.'
'What's a snowman's hat called? An ice cap.'
'What do you call someone who is scared of Santa Claus? Claustrophobic.'
If you're going to have a lot of little ones running around, you should prepare a few Christmas jokes for kids just in case any of them start to get bored or 'act up.' Here are some kid-appropriate jokes (they might seem a little ridiculous but most of them will get a giggle out of a young one):
'How does a Yeti get around? By-icicle.'
'What happened to the man who stole a calendar at Christmas? He got 12 months.'
'If Santa was a detective, what would his name be? Santa Clues.'
What is the best Christmas present in the world? - A broken drum - you cant beat it!
What did one snowman say to the other snowman? Can you smell carrot?
What do snowmen eat for breakfast? Snowflakes.
When it comes to games, the possibilities are only limited by your creativity – but if you need some ideas to get you started, check out our page about Christmas party games.
Christmas Party Ideas: Christmas Party Gift Exchange Ideas
For starters, don't put pressure on your guests to buy each other gifts. If they want to they'll mention it and you can suggest the idea to everyone, but don't push it – many people are feeling the financial strain at this time of year and don't want to buy more presents than absolutely necessary!
Of course, 'the Secret Santa' is an old Christmas party idea always goes down a treat – where everybody buys a gift to give to someone else at the party, but the person receiving the gift doesn't know who their 'Santa' is. This can be done with real gifts, but a more fun variation is to turn it into a 're-gifting' ceremony. This is where everyone takes a gift they have been given over the years, wraps it up, and gives it to someone else anonymously. No one is likely to be happy with their gift, but it's a good recipe for a few laughs.
That gives you some ideas for gift exchanges at your party itself – but how do you come up with ideas for gifts to give your friends and family? Choosing the right present can be a challenge – a challenge which is often made even more difficult by people saying things like, 'I don't want anything from you this Christmas' – but you know they'll be getting you a gift, so you have to get something! On top of that, we all know people who seem to 'already have everything.'
Well, for starters, remember that the thought behind a gift is more important than how much you spend – that may be a cliché, but it's true. The key is to think about what the person values most in life and give them something that will resonate with those values – when you do that, it doesn't matter whether you spent $1000 on the gift or you made it by hand in half an hour on Christmas morning. People appreciate being understood.
Christmas Party Ideas: Throwing a Christmas in July Party
The mid-year Christmas party idea (Christmas in July) has become popular at some offices and amongst friends with busy lifestyles. After all, why should you have to wait until the end of the year to catch up and exchange gifts with those closest to you? And if you live in the southern hemisphere, you don't get to experience the 'white Christmas' that has so often been depicted in movies and sung about in classic songs, because of course December 25 is in the middle of summer! On the other hand, some people in the northern prefer to enjoy having Christmas-style celebrations in the middle of summer during July, with outdoor barbeques rather than sitting inside at the dinner table while the snow falls outside. It's believed that this is how the July Christmas tradition actually began, with families in Europe wanting to have Christmas parties while the sun is shining.
So what are the 'rules' when it comes to Christmas party ideas for 'Christmas in July'? Well, there are no rules – that's the beauty of a Christmas party! All the ideas above can apply to a summer Christmas party just as easily as a winter one, but let's get into some season-specific Christmas party ideas.
If you're in the northern hemisphere then your mid-year Christmas party will be in the summer, which gives you plenty of options for outdoor activities that wouldn't usually be available to you. Barbeques, as mentioned above, are ideal for these types of parties. You can also get some more exciting games and going on if you have a big backyard, especially for the kids – so look into some game ideas that will have the kids running around and having a good time in the sun. You can even break out the Frisbee, or other throwing games like Coits and Petanque.
As for those in the southern hemisphere – this mid-year Christmas party may be your first real 'white Christmas,' so it's time to make the most of it. Even if it isn't actually snowing outside, you can create your own effects with ice-frosting spray on your windows and cotton wool on the ground inside your house. Try to come up with your own creative Christmas party ideas for the winter season.
Have fun! :-)
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External links to really cool websites with pages relevant to this page about Christmas Sayings and Christmas thoughts:
We have collected a few easy-to-use links on some of the subjects mentioned on this page:
- Christmas Traditions as described on infoplease.com - info on Christmas customs, including trees, holly, mistletoe, Santa Claus, and more.
- As inspiration for your Christmas party appetizers there's an in-depth article on appetizers, called: Appetizers - don't ditch the deep-fat just yet at Encyclopedia.com.
- Christmas Party as described on the popular, sometimes funny Urban Dictionary - if you're not satisfied with their definitions, you can add your own to the mix. Or, you can choose to visit their many, many (often funny) definitions of Christmas.
- This WikiPedia article lists some of they call: The Most Beautiful Christmas Songs of the World - never mind that it is actually about an album by a pop group from the disco era of the late 1970s.
- At Uncyclopedia.com, the so-called content-free Encyclopedia (enter at your own risk!) you can read about Santa: Santa Claus as well as their weird ideas about Christmas.
- At Wisegeek.com they have an article where they try to answer the question: What are Some Office Party Games?
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