Thursday, December 15, 2011

Party Planning

With the house decorated, the tree glowing, cards sent out, and most of the shopping done,
it is now time to focus on my favorite Christmas moment: our annual Christmas Eve
party!  Every year on Christmas Eve, my entire family gathers together for an amazing
night of food, gifts, games, and maybe even a little dancing.  For most of my life, this
party was held at my grandparents' house, the home they built themselves and raised
6 children in, the home where most of my childhood memories are based.  When they
became too old to host such a large event, my oldest aunt took over, putting her own
personal touches on the evening and starting new traditions.  When Shawn and I bought
our house 2 years ago, my aunt passed the torch to me, entrusting this very important
night in my hands.  Hosting my entire family for this blessed event, all 50-60 of them,
is an HONOR to me, an absolute privilege, a responsibility I don't take lightly.  And so I
will spend the next few weeks working frantically to create an amazing night, attempting
to make every last detail as perfect as my family deserves.
Here are a few tips I've learned along the way to make hosting a
large party memorable:
1.  Invites
I am old fashioned when it comes to inviting people into our home.  I don't really
like email/Facebook announcements, I don't even really like mailing out printed
invitations.  For most of our parties, I call each guest and invite them personally.  I love
the idea of speaking to them and describing the night to them, allowing them to ask
questions and make special requests, getting excited and gushing to each other about all
the fun we will have.  It is time consuming, but so worth the time and effort when your
guests feel welcomed.
2.  Atmosphere
I love creating lots of different spaces for our guests.  We usually arrange the furniture in
our living room into little conversation areas, play soft music, allow a place for people to
sit and talk and relax.  Our kitchen is filled with food that I typically set up buffet
style, including a little plaque that invites guests to "Help yourself!".  We have an
outdoor fireplace on our back porch with a dart board, card games, and lots of room
for dancing.  Our family room provides a big wide open space for kids to run and play
and make as much ruckus as they can manage without disturbing the adults.  By
creating several different areas, guests can move from one place to the next depending
on their mood.  Keeping the music and theme cohesive makes the whole house
seem connected while also offering little places to get away.
3.  Entertainment
I try to get the children as involved as possible for all of our parties.  On Christmas Eve,
my brother and I put them in small groups according to their ages and sing carols for
the whole family.  We have also had one of the older cousins read "The Night
Before Christmas" while the younger kiddos acted out the story.  Since taking over
the Christmas Eve festivities, I have started a new tradition of playing a gift exchange
game.  Since there are way too many people in our family to buy gifts for each and
every person, we instead exchange $25 gifts with this fun and feisty game called
"Dirty Santa".  Each child is also given a set of pajamas from Santa, which they
all immediately change into before going out into the front yard to throw Reindeer food
in the grass and watch a homegrown fireworks display brought to us by my sweet hubby.
I don't like to overwhelm people with games and activities but these little highlights
are a great way to get people involved and mingling.
4.  Photo Ops
It's so important to capture as many moments of a special night as you can, to catch guests
in the moment and reflect on what your favorite parts of the party were.  I love group
shots, candids, silly photos.  I love looking back on these memories later and
remembering what I felt like at the time.  Photos are priceless mementos that we
all hold dear.
5.  Special touches
I try to add a special touch to every party, whether it be a slideshow of family photos,
a montage of old home videos, or a special scrapbook on display.  My family loves looking
back on these sweet mementos and they are a great way to bring the warmth of the
whole night together.
These memories with my family make Christmas my favorite holiday.  There is nothing I
love more than having my home filled with the people I love, seeing their smiles and
hearing animated conversation floating through the room.  Here's to another year,
another party, and me getting my party planning self in gear!

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Anonymous said...

looks like too much fun! :

Im the same way i love sending out printed invitation too :)

Hope you are having a lovely week :)

Little Gray Pixel said...

Wow. That is such a big honor to host the Christmas party for your huge family. And what great ideas -- you definitely sound like the hostess with the mostest. (P.S. Dirty Santa is the best!)

Sliver said...

Looks like there was a lot of thought put into this party!

I love all your advice and hopefully one day my fiance and I can put it to good use!

I'm a new follower & I look forward to reading more from you :)


Sarbear said...

Wow, so much fun! You are so thoughtful and wonderful. When can I join the family? :)


deanna@delirious-rhapsody said...

what a fun post! and like sara, when get i be an honorary family member. :)

i am the same about invites. i really dislike email invitations.

Kara said...

I love that you call everyone! A true Southern lady you are!

KimBerly said...

Wow!! what a fun time.

caileydawn said...

Looks like a lot of fun! You'll have to invite me next year :P

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