12 Christmas Party Themes You Haven't Thought of Yet

This holiday season, try one of these festive ideas to set your fete apart.

By Kate Schweitzer

October 12, 2013 12:00 PM
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The Ugly Sweater Party

If you managed to go this long in life without acquiring some horrific Christmas sweater — you know, the ones with the puff paint snowmen and the mistletoe-patterned mock turtlenecks — from your great aunt Mildred, then you may have to run to the nearest K-Mart to purchase one for this party of holiday fashion faux pas. We promise they don't cost more than $15, and the photos will most definitely be priceless.
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Reverse Christmas in July

Christmas in July is a time-honored mid-summer party favorite. In the summer's hottest month, people pretend it's Christmas — complete with a tree, gift exchange, and hearty meal. Well, turn the tables on this tradition with a beach-themed romp in the dead of winter. Beach balls, mojitos, everyone's favorite Christmas with the Beach Boys album, and ample sunscreen are a must. Bikinis — considering this happens to be one of the all-time worst months for six-packs — are clearly optional.

Trim My Tree Gathering

Putting up your first Christmas tree as a bona-fide grown-up (helping Mom and Dad put the family tree of your kindergarten-crafted thing-a-ma-bobs hanging from it doesn't count) is a momentous occasion. Why not have a tree-trimming ribbon-cutting, of sorts? Just set up your mini-evergreen (real or fake!) with lights and garland, and have your guests each bring an ornament to hang on your tree. To get extra-hokey, put everyone on the spot and make them tell a story about the ornament they chose. When the last one is hung, you do the honors of adding the tree topper and plugging in the lights!
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The Christmas Cookie Swap

Nothing says the holidays like binge-eating homemade cookies in the shapes of Christmas trees and gingerbread men. To make sure you get a variety of sugary goodness this year, host a cookie swap where everyone brings a batch of their homemade specialty, from fudge brownies to cinnamon snickerdoodles, to share. For a fun twist, allow those friends who are baking beginners to bring store-bought cookies and have guests try to guess which ones are "legit."
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The Wrap Party

Wrapping gifts may be the single most frustrating activity of the season. Not only do you inflict paper cuts and nervous breakdowns (from inaccurately cutting the paper too small), but you inevitably watch the recipient of your wrapped masterpiece brutally tear it to shreds without a second thought. Throw a support-group style gathering for friends — where everyone brings some basic supplies and their bundle of gifts — to wrap together. You'll be surprised who knows how to help you tie that bow to not look like it was crafted by a fifth-grader. For added synergy, turn up the rap music.
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Holiday Movie Marathon

From It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street to Elf, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and this generation's classic A Christmas Story, it'll be hard to pick which flicks have a place in your holiday film fest. Just keep it to less than five to avoid merry movie fatigue. And, if just watching hours of movies isn't exciting enough for you or your couch guests, add some action with a drinking game. Take a shot whenever someone says "Christmas spirit" or whenever anyone in Santa garb is on screen.
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Christmahanukwanzaa Party

The world is one big melting pot, and that's never made more clear than during the holidays. If you find yourself saying, "Merry Chr— er, happy, uh, holidays…" more than a few times a week, consider throwing an all-denominations holiday celebration. Decorate with celebratory trinkets from every creed — a Christmas tree for, well, Christmas, dreidels for Hanukkah, and a kinara candle holder for Kwanzaa, to name a few — and spend the evening learning about one another's holidays.
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12 Days of Appetizers Party

A dieter's worst nightmare may very well be the holiday party. Why? With buffet lines filled with bite-sized morsels of calorie-laden treats, they are the easiest way to make you join a gym come January. But, hell. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Like the cookie swap, invite your guests to bring their favorite appetizer to share. If, however, the impending sodium counts really have you shaking in your winter boots, ask that people bring healthy options instead.
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Christmas Carol Karaoke Night

You may not be a fan of unsolicited carolers banging on your door at night, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy an opportunity to bust out Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You." Either hit up a karaoke bar with private singing rooms or invest in a home karaoke set, and rock out to the holiday's best jams. Like the movie marathon, a complete Christmas playlist may take all night, so consider sticking to a theme. Classics are fun for the whole family, but sticking with pop reinterpretations by the tragically disbanded 'N Sync and just about every American Idol winner will help you stay on track.
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Christmas Cast-Off Gift Exchange

Re-gifting — the act of handing off one of your previously received unwanted gifts to someone else — may be considered tacky in some circles, but when everyone's doing it, it can't be that bad, right? Have all of your friends come over with one of last Christmas' cast-offs — a leopard-print Snuggie, an automatic-twirling spaghetti fork, or a hot-pink clip-on tie. Make sure everyone's gifts are wrapped and then play a version of "White Elephant," where people can pick from the pile or steal someone else's new acquisition. One person's trash is another's recycling!
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Marshmallow Roast

Roasting marshmallows around a campfire (or a crackling fireplace) is a wonderful winter pastime. Just stock up on chocolate bars and graham crackers for s'mores … and some peppermint schnapps to wash 'em down. Spend the night getting roasted and toasted. And if you want to kick your mallow roast up a notch, get some chestnuts roasting on that open fire, too!
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Christmas Costume Pub Crawl

Halloween isn't the only holiday tailor-made for dress-up. Hit up a costume store and buy a Santa suit (or sexy Santa suit, if you must) or an elf ensemble, and hit up a bar with some similarly dressed pals. In fact, dozens of cities across the country actually have organized "Santa-con" events in which hundreds of people spend the day bouncing from bar to bar in their white beards and red hats. To ensure proper participation, award the best dressed Kris Kringle and Mrs. Claus with a free round on you.
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