The most wonderful time of year is here! And you know that that means…eggnog, presents, and an inbox full of invites for “ugly sweater parties”.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve enjoyed my fair share of these parties, wearing a bold patterned sweater with Rudolph’s nose shining bright. But if you’re anything like me, those festive prints and loud designs stopped bringing you joy years ago.
So, what’s a host to do? Well, why not switch it up and throw a holiday party with a more unique theme? You can show off your creativity and holiday cheer with a fun, unique party, and your guests will thank you for a night away from their ugly sweater party uniforms.
To get you started, here are six fresh, creative holiday party ideas to keep your guests entertained (and looking fabulous without the oversized hand-me-down knit):
1. Gingerbread House Competition
A fantastic theme for kids and adults alike, all you need to get this party started are some gingerbread kits, icing in a rainbow of colours, and bowls of colourful candy and sprinkles!
For the competition portion of the evening, give your guests all their needed supplies, and a set amount of time to decorate their masterpieces. As host, you get the honour of playing judge, presenting awards for the best, the craziest, and the most extravagant houses.
Awards can be Christmas cookies, a mystery gift box filled with ornaments, holiday hair ties for the ladies, spa products, toys, holiday decor, a bottle of wine, or any other creative gift ideas you have to suit your guests!
If you’re hosting for adults, try mixing up a seasonal gingerbread, cranberry, or nog cocktail recipe to sip on while decorating! Don't forget to order some beautiful holiday wine charms so drinks don't get mixed up!
2. Holiday Crafts
What are the holidays without some fun crafts?
For this theme, turn your home or office into a handmade ornament factory, giving guests everything they need to create beautiful, cheerful reminders of Christmases past.
Ornaments not your style? Real pine and cranberry wreaths are another seasonal decoration that are easy to put together. Or opt instead for the basics, like Christmas cards or gift tags.
The best part about this party theme is that many of your favourite crafts only require some basic equipment like glue guns, ribbon, coloured paper, and whatever else you can find in your craft cabinet. Just grab what you have on hand, set out all the materials on a large tablecloth-protected space, and invite your guests over to get creative! (Oh, and if you really want to be known as the host with the most, give your guests a small party favour…these Christmas hair ties look super cute and will keep everyone’s hair safely out of the glue!)
There’s no limit to how many magical crafts you can put together, and this party is sure to appeal to holiday enthusiasts of all ages.
3. Gift Wrapping
Who says parties can’t be productive? For this holiday bash, get your friends and family together to knock out all your Christmas wrapping over the course of a fun-filled evening (just promise each other “no peeking” when it comes to gifts)!
Maybe you’re an expert who knows their way around a gift box and can line up every corner, curve, and edge flawlessly on any shaped gift, or maybe you just love the exhilaration of sharp scissors gliding through wrapping paper, but there’s always something magical about wrapping your loved one’s gifts and placing them under your tree. Celebrate these feeling by bringing together your favourite people for an evening of wrapping magic.
Ask guests to bring their own wrapping paper so you can all swap and share, but as host, be prepared with lots of ribbon, tape, scissors and gift tags. Also be sure to label everything…the last thing you need is a stack of similar-looking presents with no name tags!
4. Seasonal Cocktail Recipes
Pumpkin spice lattes and mulled wine aren’t the only cozy holiday treats! For this holiday party, get out your cocktail shakers and invite your friends over for a themed cocktail mixing night.
The spices of the season allow for so many tasty cocktails. From peppermint white Russians and brandy eggnog, to hot buttered rum, pomegranate Prosecco and sugared plum whisky recipes, there is no shortage of delicious and soul-warming drinks to shake up. There are always the old faithfuls like spiked hot chocolate, mulled wine, and cranberry cosmos.
If you’re feeling creative you can mix up some of your own ingredients to concoct your own Christmas cocktails, or hold a tasting contest to choose a winner. You can even add a fun and personal touch with either our Holiday edition or Classic Swarovski party favours to decorate your stemware.
5. Pet Costume Party
While we’re sick of ugly sweater parties, we will never grow tired of dogs and cats in little outfits! People love their pets, and love to organize play dates with other owners. Embrace this by making your Christmas party paw-friendly!
Host a party for your friends and theirfurry friends to show off their cutest holiday looks. Set up a decorated corner of a room for festive photos that people can take of their dressed-up darlings – it’ll make for a popular Instagram post!
Instead of your typical party favours, opt instead for “doggy bags” that include dog treats, cat toys, and holiday-themed bandanas for the little fur monsters. And if you’re in the holiday baking mood, there are a lot of recipes online for peanut butter dog treats that are easy to make from scratch!
6. Cookie Swap
Last but not least, sweeten the holidays this year with an old-fashioned cookie swap party. Bake up your favourite holiday cookies with the secret family recipes handed down through generations (or the one you found on Pinterest last week…we won’t judge!) and invite your friends to do the same. Wrap them up in a sweet little package and put them under the tree.
When guests arrive, write down two of each number on separate pieces of paper (if you have 10 guests, you’ll need 20 pieces of paper). Tape one number to the bottom of each cookie box and place them under the tree. Put all the remaining numbers in a holiday hat and have everyone pull a number later in the evening. Whichever number they pull corresponds to the box of cookies they’ll bring home!
If you want to add another element of fun to the game, you can play by the White Elephant gift exchange rules, where players can steal a present from someone else. This is especially great if there are one or two guests at the party who are known for exceptionally good cookies, as everyone else will be incentivized to participate in some friendly stealing.
As you can see, there are tons of ways to spice up your holiday parties and stand out from the crowd this season. Give your guests something to celebrate (and give those sweaters a break) with a fresh new idea that will be memorable for many holiday seasons to come!
Planning a soon-to-be-safe outdoor dining soiree? We have the best tips you need to make it a success. With the proper preparation, you can host the gathering your guests won’t stop talking about. So before you send out those invitations, take a look at my top tips for throwing a smash-hit summer soiree.