Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Party & Entertaining Tips

I love Christmastime, so having a holiday party to spend time with friends to celebrate the season was a no-brainer. I love entertaining and am so blessed to have so many special people in my life who I thoroughly enjoy being around. Hosting this party was a way to spend some quality time with good people, while putting on a fun, festive party. Who doesn't love snacks, drinks and yummy desserts!? :)

If you plan to host a holiday gathering of some kind, keep in mind it doesn't have to be outrageously expensive, or overdone. Simple decorations, a food display and holiday music set the tone for a good time to be enjoyed by all.

Below you'll see some pictures from my party this year, as well as some tips for hosting your own holiday get together in the future. Links to recipes are included as well, if you enjoy homemade goods. :)

Christmas Party 2013
When my guests walked in, the first thing they saw was a welcome table with candy cane treats, and a soy candle burning with a Christmas scent, to get them in the holiday spirit. I also included some packets of wildflower seeds that read "Thank You" on the outside. These were leftover from a previous party I hosted, and I figured it would be a simple favor for people to take, if they wanted one. It's always nice to re-use and upcycle if you have extra items you want to give away for people to enjoy.

Happy Holidays Photo Print by Alexis Ryon Photography

 Bayberry Soy Candle by The Wilderess Shop

- This candle has a strong, holiday aroma and is great for using this time of year. Kristina offers several other scents in her shop, and other homemade items as well. She sent me a sample of her lip balm and I love it! 

The kids were greeted first thing by a felt Christmas tree attached to the wall. It included felt gifts, ornaments and lights for them to have fun decorating with while the adults mingled. Besides the tree, we had our entire front room set up with toys and open space for the kids to play. They definitely made it their "spot" for the night!

Felt Christmas Tree by Alexis Ryon

For my mantle, I wanted to do something simple. I used vases, branches and candle votives I already own, and added a fun canvas sign, as well as a gold glitter garland strung between our stockings.

Gold Glitter Garland by Glitter and Grain

Santa Baby Canvas Sign by Epiphanys Corner

On one of my side tables, I placed a gold glitter mason jar filled with fresh cinnamon sticks. It not only added to the decor, but it also smelled great!!! 

Gold Glitter Mason Jar by Blustery Charm
Cinnamon Sticks from Upstate Primitives

For my table setting, I used linen placemats with red reindeers imprinted on them, and did a simple centerpiece, using items I already had, as well as another of the gold glitter mason jars, and more cinnamon sticks to add a yummy scent. 

Gold Glitter Mason Jar by Blustery Charm

Cinnamon Sticks from Upstate Primitives

 Linen Reindeer Placemats by Sima Prints

I hung this "Merry Christmas" banner from my back door shutters. It was the first thing people could see as they walked into my living room / kitchen area, and its red and green colors stood out so nicely.  Banner St Boutique did a great job creating this quality banner that will hold up through time very well. 

For more banners of any occasion, visit: Banner St Boutique

These adorable, rustic mason jars were proudly displayed in my kitchen windowsill. They're simple yet such a stand out piece of decor, because you can use them as votives for candles or as a vase or even on their own. There are many creative ways to use these! 

Mason Jar Votives by Sixty Beans Vntg

I used one other print from Alexis Ryon Photography, on my food display/counter area. I love this image. It makes me think of this time of year, which I'm so fond of, and the tree simply placed in the back of the truck can't help but make you think of Christmastime. I love the forest with snow in the background. It also went well with the rustic Christmas theme I had going.

Along with pumpkin bread, various fruits, a veggie platter, cookies and other treats, I sampled out these jams. I served buttered crackers for the jams to be spread on, and it was a big hit. These would make a great gift as well. A roll of fresh bread or crackers and a jar or two of these jams would be a nice gift for your neighbors, moms group, church event, etc. Michelle from Southern Jams and Jelly offers multiple flavor options, as well as some discounts when you purchase a bundle. 

 Coffee Bar

 Hot Cocoa Station

 Mason Jars for cold drinks

Cookies and Pumpkin Bread (links to recipes below)

 I've worked with Nick from iCustom Label before, and he never disappoints. His labels are custom made, based on your party theme and colors. He works with you to create exactly what you're looking for. He can design something from scratch if you don't have anything specific in mind. Whether you need wine bottle labels, candy labels, cupcake toppers, favor labels, etc. he's your guy. This is a picture of the labels I put on my sparkling cider bottles. They really help give that extra personal touch. Why not dress up your bottles along with the rest of your house!? :)

Personalized Wine Bottle Labels by iCustom Label

These chocolate dipped marshmallow pops from Hits the Spot are just so fun!!! They make a great party favor. Erin offers other baked goods and chocolate dipped creations on her Etsy shop.

A few gift ideas from partnering Etsy shops: 

Crocheted hat by Yum Baby
- Jenni and Luci offer a variety of hats, for boys and girls. I love this bearded toddler beanie! So cute and it keeps little faces warm during these cold winter months!

Personalized Coasters by Bandanna Mommas
- These can be customized to say any names you need them to. Contact Lisa via her Etsy shop to set up a custom listing.

Homemade Soap by Soap Bunny on Etsy

This next item is going on my "Favorite Things" list. I am in love with this cutting board! It sits on a display stand in my kitchen, and in my opinion, is just too beautiful to use! Rebekah does an outstanding job with her work. These cutting boards are a gift I wouldn't hesitate to give anyone I know. Whether you're buying a Christmas gift, wedding gift or housewarming gift, these cutting boards of various designs are the way to go. 
Custom Cutting Board by Twisted Branch Designs

A Few Tips for Hosting a Holiday Party: 
* Keep it simple. Don't feel you need to overdo it. Your friends and family will be there to enjoy your company, and everything else is a bonus.
* Do a White Elephant gift exchange. We had everyone bring a gift worth $5 or under, and played the traditional game. It was fun to get the kids involved, and everyone left with something new! Re-gift or get something at the cost limit you determine. It's a fun, simple game for everyone and always brings lots of laughs.
* Put out a few beverage and food items. If you're on a budget or don't have the time to do everything yourself, ask friends if they'd be willing to bring a snack to share. I had a few friends do this and it worked out great! We had multiple options and something for everyone.
* If you wish, hand out party favors as a special thank you to your guests for coming to your party. This doesn't have to cost you a lot of money or take a lot of your time. It's always fun to give something out, and for the receiver it's even better. :)
* If you allow kids at your party, make sure to provide some kind of entertainment for them, if possible. This can be in the form of a separate area or room for them to be free to play in, an age-appropriate movie to be watched while the adults chat, snacks, etc. Parents don't expect you to entertain their children, or have age-appropriate toys for everyone, so they will come prepared (hopefully) on their own, but it never hurts to have a few tricks up your sleeve so everyone's happy.
*  Last but not least, remember to have fun! Participate in quality conversation and don't worry about playing hostess too much. Be present and enjoy yourself. Everything else will fall into place very nicely.

Recipes Used for This Party: 
Crockpot Pumpkin Bread
Reese's Peanut Butter Cookies

A Note to Close: 
May you be immensely blessed this holiday season, and as we enter the new year. I hope you've gained some inspiration for hosting your own holiday gathering in the future, and hope you'll consider checking out these worthy Etsy shops, who offer great items, whether for Christmas gifts or other needs you may have throughout the year. 

Merry Christmas to you all!!!

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