Christmas is coming and that means party, party, party! After all, it’s the most magical time of the year, and festivities are everywhere. If you’re in charge of a big group holiday party or want to host one, you may have some gnawing questions about how to entertain during the holidays dancing around your head instead of visions of sugarplums.
How will I feed all of my guests?
How long will they all stay?
And, how (how?!) will I ever keep all of the different ages entertained?
Don’t panic. A little planning goes a long way when it comes to big holiday parties. To help you, we’ve broken it down to the three basic factors of any festivity, otherwise known as the three F’s of entertaining for a big group – Friends, Food & Fun.
First and foremost, you must consider who will be coming to your big group gathering. Whether it be friends, family, or friends of family – make a list of who you’ll be inviting and how you can best entertain them. If it’s family guests like Aunt Ida and little nephew Joey that will call for a different plan than if it’s work guests like your boss and fellow coworkers. Whether you’re hosting your entire in-laws side of the family, your book club or your office staff, make sure you keep it to a manageable size for your location and budget.
Based on your overall list, you can come up with a good date and time frame for your party, as well as a fun theme. The holidays are a busy time of year, so be sure to get the date out early, or at least a “save the date” text or email. Order or create festive invitations and send them out at least two weeks ahead of time. A creative theme and invitation could be the reason guests choose your party over another during this busy season.
Ask for a final RSVP a week or so before the date so that you can get a good grasp on how many will be attending, what ages will be there and how to feed and entertain them. You will also need to consider whether guests will know other people at the party. If not, it may call for fun name tags or a special ice breaker to introduce everyone.
Once you have a general idea of how many will be coming to your party, it’s time to start thinking about how to feed all of your guests. First, decide how formal the refreshments will be. Is it a sit-down meal, a buffet, or just appetizers. Keep in mind that finger foods require no utensils and can make for less clean up and less stress. Next, decide whether you will want to hire a caterer, make the food yourself or ask your party-goers to bring a dish. You can always include part of the theme in the menu like “Spice up the holidays – bring your favorite spicy dish” or “Christmas around the world – bring your favorite international appetizer.”
When you have your menu and food plan in place, make a grocery list and check it twice. Make sure that you have planned enough quantity for the size of your group and included any kid-friendly foods that might be necessary to keep the under 12 crowd happy. Also, be sure to add any paper products such as festive napkins and plates that you may need.
Whatever the food plan, don’t forget the drinks and desserts. Holiday parties are a perfect time to make fun punches and signature cocktails. Plus, you may have a massive riot on your hands if you dare to throw a party at Christmastime without desserts! Pinterest is a great place to search for holiday-themed dishes, party punch recipes, snowman-shaped cheeseballs and reindeer-inspired desserts.
Sometimes the best tradition is not having a tradition at all. Choose a night for a surprise adventure for your family and pick a last-minute, spur of the moment activity. Pile into the car for an outing to the bowling alley – a great place to get some “turkeys” – or head to the roller rink or ice skating rink or indoor miniature golf course. You just may want to confirm what their holiday hours are before you go. If you want to plan a stay-at-home surprise, try renting a big screen and projector for a home movie night. Don’t forget the popcorn and soda!
The final “F” is what makes your party the most memorable. Compiling a list of games for every age will help make your big group get-together a holiday hit. Make sure your arsenal of games are ones that include everyone so that no one feels left out. Be sure to choose fun and simple games that are engaging and light-hearted. If there is a big range in ages, you can modify games and rules so that the younger kids can play as well. It’s especially fun at holiday parties to choose Christmas-themed games that you can’t play the rest of the year. Check out this list of go-to holiday games.
YULE NEVER GUESS:
Before your holiday get-together, write down the names of some famous Christmas characters (Frosty, Rudolph, Scrooge) on blank stickers. As your guests walk in the door, place a sticker on their back so that they can’t see it. Then, they can ask other guests only “yes or no” questions until they figure out who they are. It’s a great ice-breaker for parties where guests might not know each other that well.
Divide your party-goers into two teams and have each team write down ten different Christmas carols on separate notecards. Then, one person from each team draws one of the opposing team’s notecards and has to act out the Christmas carol for their team without using any words. Set a timer and give the team two minutes to guess it. If they get it right, they get a point. The team with the most points after all of the cards are acted out are the Christmas Charade Champs!
PRESENT THE PRESENT:
Before the party, wrap up twenty empty boxes of varying sizes as presents. Then, split your guests into two equal number of players to make up two relay teams. Place ten of the gifts on one table and then place the other ten on a table that is twenty feet or so away. At “go,” one team member from each team grabs a present and has to carry it across to the opposing table. Then, the next player takes the gift and places another one on top and carries them both across the room to a third teammate. The players keep stacking gifts and carrying them until they stack all ten present boxes. The first team to carry all ten of the gifts back to the starting point without dropping any is the winner.
LET IT GLOW, LET IT GLOW, LET IT GLOW
Nothing says “festive” like glowing games. To really get your guests up and moving, try out these fun holiday-theme variations on the below glow-in-the-dark games by Starlux Games available here. If the weather cooperates, your party guests can bundle up and play in the backyard. And, if the weather doesn’t permit, choose a variation that allows you to play in a large inside room where you have open space. Either way, these games will ensure that all will be merry and bright.
Gather your holiday crew for an exciting game of Capture the Flag revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights. Just like the traditional game, players split into teams and then work together to break teammates out of jail, sneak into enemy territory, protect base and steal the flag. But unlike the classic, the flag is now a glowing orb and players wear color-coded LED bracelets to differentiate team members and glowing jail markers. For a special holiday treat, play REDUX – Fugitives. This is the variation to determine Santa’s “naughty versus nice” list. The fugitives start on one end of the playing field marked with blue jail markers and the cops starts on the opposite end and try to tag the fugitives. Will naughty or nice prevail?
There are times when you really want to thwack your friends, relatives or co-workers, and Glow Battle is one of those games that encourages just that. Players use strategy, teamwork, and their own warrior instincts to team up and take down their opponent using harmless, glowing batons. Teams are designated by different colored LED bracelets have a base to “recharge” after they get hit. Pit cousin versus and cousin or uncle versus aunt in this thrilling glow-in-the-dark battle. For a true holiday gift giving extravaganza, play the Thieves and Guards variation. Purchase a handful of small gifts ahead of the party and adapt this game variation to let players capture the gifts instead of lights. You can even use the captured gifts as part of a gift exchange at the end of the match.
Capture the Flag REDUX
Experience this classic game with a modern glow-in-the-dark twist
Wizards & Werewolves
Transform your backyard into an imagination-fueled competition of mythic proportions
Protectors of the Rainbow
Race to find the glowing treasure in this imaginative twist on classic scavenger hunts
Check out our other award winning active games and expansions