You already know the drill during the holiday party circuit: ugly Christmas sweater parties and Secret Santa gift exchanges. But have you ever thought to channel your holiday cheer into more creative outlets (e.g., finessing your pet into a tiny sweater or foisting holiday spirit onto your sad apartment by crafting dozens of decorative baubles with friends)? Allow us to enlighten you with 15 "how have we never thought of this" party options to try this winter.
Like the anti Winona Ryder, Mariah Carey’s powers are their strongest during the holidays. Channel her ultimate form with spangled costumes, the extra-est photo setup (multiple trees dripping in lights), a screening of the cinematic gem Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You, and her hit song of the same name playing on loop. To serve: salmon and capers (maybe cut into stars, but that’s it) and a rare vintage of her drink Butterfly.
The holidays don’t have to be all treacle and ribbons. To Tim Burton-ize the whole affair, demand (nicely) that your guests arrive in Halloween costumes and/or rag doll makeup, and carve up some spooky/merry jack-o’-lanterns. But no need to be too precious about it—In the spirit of ya boy Jack Skellington, it’s the sentiment, not the broken-down-ness of the execution, that counts.
The holidays are best celebrated with all the joy and wonder of Buddy the Elf, which is why it's strongly encouraged to gather with your closest friends to indulge in all the sweet delights you'll shun come New Year's (boooo). Think lots of sprinkles, mini-marshmallows, chocolate syrup, candy, and icing (give or take a plateful of spaghetti). Make it a baking party or have a "bring a sweet treat" get-together with sweet boozy drinks while you're exchanging holiday gifts.
Because honestly, you will be searching for holiday movies on Netflix anyways, why not have a holiday film fest? Just keep it to fewer than five films to avoid merry movie fatigue. And if watching hours of movies isn't exciting enough for you or your couch buddies, add some action with a drinking game. Take a shot whenever someone says "Christmas spirit" or whenever anyone in Santa garb is on screen.
Even if you're not living your dream winter life on the slopes of some powdery mountain, nothing's stopping you from making like you are this holiday! Gussy up your home with traditional chalet accoutrements (furry rugs, basically anything wood-finished, a fireplace if you may) and have your guests roll up in their best Fair Isle sweaters and down vests for a night of hot chocolate, pints of beer, and s'mores by the fireside. Cozy!
At the beginning of the holiday season, gather your friends together to channel your inner domestic goddesses with a party that revolves around—you guessed it—crafting. *Oprah voice* "Bring on the felt poinsettias!" Learn how to construct wreaths together, bedazzle some ornaments, cut and print homemade holiday cards, or even set up an elaborate gifting table (paper, ribbons, and labels galore) to wrap together—all while snacking and sipping on holiday treats and cocktails.
Holiday parties involving mistletoe usually involve a good deal of awkward lingering and shame, but that's probably because no one was under the impression they were at a themed ball (because they weren't). Until now. Recreate your own epic Yule Ball with some upbeat holiday-themed music (dance-y numbers encouraged), a dress code, a considerable amount of spiked punch and hors d'oeuvres at the ready, and some strategically placed mistletoe branches.
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 depths of winter. Beach balls, mojitos, everyone's favorite Christmas with the Beach Boys album, and ample sunscreen are a must.
Seth Cohen was on to something when he merged together two of the most present-filled holidays into Chrismukkah. Throw an all-denominations holiday celebration and decorate with 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 (and probably watching The O.C.).
Instantly upgrade a holiday potluck by asking friends to bring their favorite cocktail mix instead of food. Candy cane martinis, eggnog, spiked cocoa…just be ready for a very rowdy rounds of carols towards the end of the night. (Oh, and you should probably actually have some food there, as well.)
Because cats and dogs like nothing more than to be dressed up (as you can clearly see from how happy this cat looks), why not throw a party for them and their adorable outfits? Imagine: a gathering with multiple puppies dressed in Santa hats. If that's not Christmas joy, we don't know what is. Bonus points if you can construct a makeshift photo area complete with an instant camera so that you and your friends can take holiday-themed, squee-worthy photos with your fluffy pets. Just think of all the photo opportunities for next year's holiday card.
Why not take a charming childhood tradition and turn it into a competition? Have all of the supplies for traditional gingerbread house building ready, but also choose a judge and a few different categories (such as "Most Creative," "Best Construction," "Best Candy Curating," etc.). If you want to make things more interesting, choose a theme for the competitors (the more random, the better), set a timer, and ready, set, GO!
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, like pop reinterpretations of the classics (Biebs, there's always room for you).
Re-gifting—the act of handing off one of your previously received (and unwanted) gifts to someone else—may be considered tacky in some circles, but when everyone's doing it, it's all part of the fun. Have 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. Always remember: One person's trash is another's treasure!
Christmas cookies are great, but that doesn't mean that we aren't as excited about savory holiday snacks (cheese plates and charcuterie, anyone?). Instead of hosting a cookie swap, have friends bring their favorite seasonal appetizers for an app-only potluck–no main dishes invited! And yes, have one person bring cookies for "dessert."
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