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Holiday Parties: Celebrate Your Way

Some of us dread the holidays while some of us live for them. A good way to connect both sides is to start a holiday tradition that everyone can look forward to. Why not put a twist on the tried and true? Here are some ideas that may jingle your bells (Photo by Gustavo Fring).

Cookie Swap

This popular tradition involves asking around eight friends to each bring a dozen cookies with them so you can all swap the sweets, and leave with a variety of delicious baked goods.

Make it yours: Ask each guest to bring beer or wine that pairs well with their cookies and make it a Cookies and Wine Swap.

Note: Darker wines go with darker, heavier desserts and lighter wines go with lighter, fluffier ones.

Ugly Sweater Party

We tend to don our sweaters when it hits a temperature below 75, so this tradition does work for Floridians. For this party, guests wear an ugly holiday sweater and hang out, drink and eat.

Make it yours: Make it an Ugly Underwear Party – holiday-themed undies a plus.

Ornament Exchange

Another popular traditional activity is an Ornament Exchange. This is a great way to gather friends. Everyone gets a new ornament for their tree and a new memory for their hearts, Aw! Guests bring ornaments with them and display them next to a number. Then numbers are picked from a hat and guests are presented with the ornament that matches up.

Make it yours: Make it an Ugly Ornament Exchange. Or an Sexy Ornament Exchange. You can also get crafty and have everyone make ornaments together.

Dreidel Games/Hanukkah Party

A good Hanukkah party involves lots of latkes, chocolate gelt and a game or two of dreidel. A dreidel for the uninitiated is a spinning top game. Each side of the top has a Hebrew letter on it. Players put tokens or coins in the middle or in “the pot.” If you land on the Gimmel: the player takes all the tokens in the pot, on Hey: they take half the pot, on Shin: the player adds coins to the pot and the letter nun: nothing happens. The winner is the player who wins the whole pot.

Make it yours: Coins or tokens? That’s child’s play. Raise the stakes! You can make this a full-on fun gambling situation and add actual money to the pot. Of course, it would be extra nice to donate the winning money to charity, but you do you.

White Elephant

This tradition has many names, but the most common is White Elephant. To play, guests bring a wrapped gift and each gift is assigned a number. Each person picks a number out of a hat and their number will correspond to a gift. Then, they get a chance to either keep it or swap it for another gift (that’s already been opened) from someone in the group. Each gift can be stolen three times and there is typically a price limit assigned.

Make it yours: Choose a theme. It can be joke gifts, X-rated gifts, edible gifts, etc. Have fun with it.

Re-live your childhood

Gather your loved ones, wear matching pajamas and watch your favorite holiday movies. Sleepover parties should not be only for kids. It can be just as fun for adults – but perhaps with plusher sleeping bags (our aching backs!). Gather and exchange gifts either that night or in the morning. Don’t forget to take photos!

Make it yours: Make boozy hot cocoa and really amp up that breakfast spread. You’re an adult now, you can do better than a bowl of cereal. Have a mimosa!

Give back

There are several ways to give back. Start a collection of toys for kids in need, donate time at a soup kitchen, visit a senior home, foster a pet. Check your favorite non-profit organization’s website for ideas on how to help this holiday season.

Make it yours: This is one tradition that does not need to be improved upon.

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