A. Assemble gingerbread cottages. Use empty pint-sized milk cartons that have been rinsed and dried. Apply graham crackers with vanilla frosting to make the walls and roof. Use additional frosting to attach candy decorations.
B. Bake and decorate sugar cookies or gingerbread men. A timeless classic. Deliver a plate of cookies to someone who needs a little Yuletide cheer. Save time by using refrigerated cookie dough (gasp! I know, but it helps!! LOL)
C. Create an easy ornament or party favor. Make a candy cane reindeer with a full sized candy cane. Wrap a brown chenille stem around the curved part with the ends pointed up and twist the ends around a pencil to form antlers. Glue small wiggly eyes an a small red pompom on the curved part for the face.
D. Decorate a large sheet of butcher paper with rubber stamps, stencils, stickers, glitter, glue, markers and crayons. Let the group be creative. You can also use compressed sponges to cut in simple shapes (use cookie cutters as your template) and dip the sponges into acrylic paint. Use paper to wrap your "presents".
E. Entertain your guests with fun games, like Pictionary. All you need is a dry-erase board, just some poster board from the Dollar Tree, chalkboard or large pad of paper with an easel. Write clues related to your party theme for Christmas, or whatever event you're celebrating. Divide into teams, - it's fun to do guys vs. girls, or kids vs. adults. One team member draws a picture of the word while the teammates try to guess what it is within 30 seconds. If they can't guess it, the opposing team gets to take a guess. The correct team earns a point.
F. Freeze an ice ring to float in a bowl of holiday punch. Here is a recipe for a beautiful fruit filled ice ring to float in your own fave punch:
In a 1 quart pitcher, combine 2.5 cups Ginger Ale and 1.5 cup chilled lemon juice. Pour two cups of the mixture into a 1 quart ring mold; freeze. Arrange the items listed below in a decorative pattern on top of the frozen ring. Carefully pour remaining liquid over items and freeze again. Unmold and place in punch prior to serving.
Decorative Items: canned apricot halves; drained; seedless green grapes; strawberries; maraschino cherries; strips of orange peel, curled; mind leaves. Use any combination of these. Your choice. You don't have to use all.
G. Greet your guests with a cute candy wreath (or make it as a party activity). Unbend a wire coat hanger and form into a circle. Twist wire around the top and cut off excess, but leave hook intact. Cut pieces of curling ribbon into 12 inch pieces. Tie the first piece of ribbon to the wire ring with a knot in the center of the ribbon. Tie two pieces of cellophane-wrapped hard candy to ribbon using each end of the ribbon for one piece of candy. Tie candy as close to the ring as possible, then curl the remaining ends of the ribbon. Continue all the way around the ring, pushing candy together and leaving a space for bow at the top. Tie a pair of children's scissors to the wreath and invite the guests to cut off a piece of candy!
H. Host an ornament exchange. Each guest brings an ornament, wrapped with a gift tag attached. The "to" is left blank. As the wrapped ornaments arrive, assign each a number and put that number on the gift tag where the "to" is supposed to be. Write that number down on a piece of paper , fold it up and put in a basket, or bowl. The guests will draw numbers from that basket or bowl. What ever number they draw, that is the number of the ornament they get.
Or, host a cookie exchange. These are loads of fun and you get to take home all different kinds of cookies for yourself and your family. Have each guest submit their recipe beforehand so you can type them up and present each of your cookie exchange guests with a little cookie recipe book. This book can be as elaborate or as simple as you choose.
I. Impress your guests with a stunning holiday dessert. The Christmas magazines are full of them and they're starting to hit the grocery store shelves now!
J. Just because you don't have any snow doesn't mean you can't have an old fashioned snowball throw! Make a snowman out of lightweight plywood, leaving a large hole for his mouth. Use balled up white socks for snowballs. Throw the socks into the snowman's mouth and award prizes for the best tossers.
K. Keep some hot mulled cider in the crock pot and let guests serve themselves throughout the party.
L. Line the driveway or walkway to your house with homemade luminaries.
Simply place a few inches of sand in the bottom of white paper lunch bags and place a votive candle in the middle of the sand. If desired, you can create decorations in the bag by punching a pattern with a hole punch. Light the candles just prior to the start of the party. Just don't place these luminaries near anything flammable.
M. Melt 1-cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in microwave just until chocolate starts to melt. Stir to melt completely. Us this to dip pretzel rods in, then roll pretzels in holiday-colored sprinkles if desired. Cool on waxed paper. You can melt white chocolate chips the same way and drizzle over chocolate-dipped pretzels, or dip some pretzels in white chocolate first and then drizzle with regular chocolate. Once cooled, wrap several together for gift giving or serve them at the party. You can decorate a plastic cup to put them in for dispensing.
N. Never let a party guest feel nervous about "mingling". For a fun and easy icebreaker, take index cards (prior to the party) and write a joke on each card, with the joke on top and the punchline on bottom; cut the cards in half. As your guests arrive, give4 each one half of a card with the instructions to find the person who has the matching half. Give prizes to the teams that find their match. Use Christmas jokes for added fun (example: Why does Santa have three gardens? answer: So he can hoe-hoe-hoe!) Corny I know....
O. Order some of your party foods ahead of time to save lots of last-minute hassles. Some suggestions are sub sandwich tray, plate of Mexican or Chinese finger foods - i.e., mini chimichangas, mini eggrolls), cheesecake assortment or hors d'ouvres tray. I found last year that Walmart really produces some great trays at a better price than my regular grocery store did, and they were fabulous to work with on my different party trays!
P. Print out words to Christmas carols and make copies. Pass them around so everyone can sing along without having to remember the words. If you want to be creative, make a little songbook and let your guests take it home as a keepsake of the party. Again, these can be as elaborate or simple as you make it.
Q. Quiet a rowdy party with a fun version of the 7-Up game. Choose 7 people to go to the front of the room; give each one a candy cane. Have the rest of the guests bow their heads and close their eyes (but we're not praying here) holding out one arm with their hand cupped (like a holder). The 7 guests then go around the room and place the candy cane in their cupped hand. When everyone is done, it's "heads up!" and the guests that got candy canes have one guess to figure out who gave it to them. Those who correctly guess go to the front of the room and another round starts. Or you can end it here. Give everyone a candy cane when the game is
R. Remember who attended your party by placing a guest book or sign-in sheet at the door. For a fun Christmas party sign-in, draw the outline of a Christmas treat on a large piece of poster board. Draw empty circles to resemble ornaments using colored markers. Have each guest sign in or write a short greeting in the ornaments. Date the sign-in sheet and you have a great keepsake of your special event as well as a fun activity for the party guests. If a guest that had been invited couldn't attend, this would be a great thing to present to them afterwards with well-wishes from the party goers!
S. Stir together a quick and delicious crock pot casserole for a caroling or tree-trimming party. Here's a yummy recipe called "Pizza in a Pot". Mix all of the following ingredients in a large crock pot:
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef, browned and drained
1 chopped green pepper
1 can cheddar cheese soup
2 tablespoons oregano
1 chopped medium onion
4 oz. sliced pepperoni
1 can tomato soup
4 cups cooked spaghetti, broken into small pieces
Cook on low 4-6 hours. Top with 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese before serving.
T. Treat yourself to a little relaxation after the party is over! Take a long bubble bath, have a fragrant candle lit, and sip on some soothing tea.
U. Unravel streamer balls. This is really fun for a group of kids (well, adults turn in to big kids at parties! LOL) Prior to the party, take a small Christmas party favor and wrap the end of a streamer around it, forming a small ball. Continue to wrap the streamer into a larger ball, placing more trinkets in it as you roll. Tape another streamer roll to the end of the first one and continue making a ball and embedding toys. Alternate green and red streamers. At the party have the guests sit in a circle. One guest starts unwrapping the ball until he or she finds a toy/trinket, then passes it on to the next person. Make sure everyone gets a toy/trinket.
V. Visit a Veteran's Hospital with hand-made cards for the patients. Or sing Christmas carols at nursing homes and visit with the residents.
W. Write party invitations by hand or print them from your computer using cute fonts and graphics. There are lots of free fonts and graphics on the Internet. Make them personal!
X. "X" marks the spot when you plan a Christmas treasure hunt. Wrap lots of small treats and hid them in various places throughout the house, or room where the guests are to be congregated. Give each person a paper bag which they can decorate with stamps and stickers; make sure they write their name on it. Put some Christmas music on and yell "GO!" Have them look for the treasures but when the music stops have them "freeze" in place. Then start again when the music starts. Make sure everyone gets some treasures in their bag. Or make this game "mobile" but turning it into a scavenger hunt and dividing up into cars. Get creative with your clues!
Y. Y2K has long since come and gone and we're all safe. Make these fun New Year's bottles at your Christmas party - the bottles can be used as party favors, place cards or mailed through regular U.S. mail without additional wrapping. (I've mailed plastic bats, bottles and other things through the mail. It's fun!) Each guest will need a clear plastic drink bottle with a screw-on type cap. Like an empty water bottle; confetti; iridescent shreds; small good-luck charms and party favors of your choice; 2 inch-wide clear mailing tape; 15 inch pieces of brightly colored curling ribbon; a mailing label.
Instructions: Prior to the party remove the label from bottle, rinse well and allow to dry.
At the party, place a little glue on the cap, screw on and let dry (hot glue is faster but be careful that guests don't burn themselves). Cut a 4 inch slit into the side of the bottle with a craft knife. A good place to do this would be where you've pulled off the label and couldn't get all of it off! Carefully place the confetti , curling ribbon, and other trinkets in the bottle through this slit. On the mailing label, put the recipient's name and address or the New Years wishes of your choosing. Cover the slit with the mailing label.
Z. Zap away party boredom with an entertaining purchased party game. These games are enjoyable for both kids and adults and are really fun! Try Scattergories or Outburst. You can even play an old fashioned game of charades! Act out Christmas movies or characters.
These are just some suggestions, I'm sure you can come up with other alphabet worthy ideas and please, by all means, do and share!