One fun way to celebrate the season is with a tree-trimming party. Many of these ideas I found at jconline.com.
As the centerpiece of the Christmas season, the tree and the holidays can come to life with a little help from your friends.
Here's how to have a fun and festive tree-trimming party that is easy to plan and inexpensive to throw.
Planning the party
Will it be a full dinner party? An evening of just desserts or appetizers? Once you make that decision select the date, time, the menu and the guest list.
The type of tree-trimming party will also determine what kind of food and beverages are served. If it's a dinner party you should probably serve a punch or ale/juice mix. If it is a dessert menu only hot cocoa really hits the spot! With lots of whipped cream!
Buy or make an ornament and attach the invitation to each. Deliver in a small box or hang on their doorknob. You could make a standard invitation and have a diecut Christmas tree on front with "Won't You Help Us Decorate Our Tree?" printed on the front then inside "You and your spouse are invited to a tree trimming party at the Smith home ......."
If you choose to do a full dinner and want to do it yourself rather than potluck style consider serving food that is easy to serve, easy for the host, easy for guests and can stay out for a while like a one-pot chili or jambalaya.
Creating a festive atmosphere
Before your guests arrive, get your home in the mood for a party.
"The main thing is that when your guests arrive, you want them to feel in the holiday spirit," Filian says.
There's no better way to make the house warm and inviting than by placing candles around and adding some mulling spices so the house is enveloped in the scents of cinnamon and nutmeg, says Susan Lacz, owner of Ridgewells, which has catered high-profile events in the Washington, D.C., area for 80 years.
Add a holiday centerpiece, either homemade or store-bought.
Make sure that your nativity set is displayed.
Play classic holiday music by artists such as Nat King Cole or Bing Crosby.
Place pomegranates, holly, pinecones and the bottom branch trimmings from a fresh tree on the mantle.
Put seasonal items such as cranberries, cinnamon sticks, candy canes, walnuts and chestnuts in glass cylinder vases to create "little vignettes across the house," Myles says.
The Christmas tree
The best way to get guests in a festive mood is to have the tree set up, lit and ready for ornaments to adorn it. That way "guests can focus on the fun things," says Thomas Harman, chief executive of Balsam Hill, a high-end artificial tree retailer.
With the tree in place, it's time to decorate.
Getting guests involved
Guests are often asked to bring ornaments to a tree-trimming party. But in deference to tough times, skip that tradition and have guests create the ornaments.
Set up an ornament station with all the necessary supplies such as craft scissors, glue, ribbon, stickers, glitter and paint pens. The ornaments can be made from scratch or the host's existing ornaments can be updated and personalized.
Fill clear glass ornaments with little pompoms or bells.
Embellish glass ornaments with holiday trim, rhinestones, glitter or rub-on designs.
Decorate playing cards by adding glitter to the backs of the cards.
Create decoupage decorations using cardboard and torn-out magazine pages.
The host doesn't have to spend a bundle on supplies and guests don't have to spend a lot of time making the ornaments, either.
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