Looking for ways to make a holiday party fun? Work parties, church parties, girlfriend get-togethers, neighborhood parties, family parties… These parties can be just “busy” or really FUN if you want to try something new! I believe any party can be a good time- it’s all in your attitude, right?
Today, I’ll tell y’all about three parties that are perfect for the holidays, PLUS the details to help you make each party a success!
1) Iron Chef Tournament:
I’ve seen this done two ways: with friends and with family.
I recently hosted this dinner and I was giddy about the party for two days straight! So fun to prep and I even enjoyed the clean-up!
My friend Loni and I co-planned this event. We invited the max amount of neighborhood friends that could fit at my long table (we squeezed in twelve!). Upon RSVP, each couple was assigned a course and a secret ingredient to incorporate into the dish. Everyone’s dish was delicious!
- Two appetizers
- Palate-cleansing sorbet
- Main course
Secret Ingredients we used: (with a few extra ideas)
- Macadamia nut
We asked that everyone prepared their “course” with their spouse and bring it to my home. Everything was all ready to eat, except the main course and a dessert that cooked while we ate.
How the Evening Worked:
Each couple introduced their course one at a time. With six courses and twelve people, there were a couple of challenges. First: I’m sure you’ve sat at a table where you are too squished? You’re constantly bumping elbows and you can’t relax, for fear you’ll lean on the person next to you… it’s the worst! So- another woman and I moved to the corners of the table with a bar stool. This freed up some space for added elbow-room for everyone.
Secondly, the conversation between twelve people can get tricky. So, conversation cards to the rescue! I let everyone choose a few typed up questions on strips of rolled up paper and this worked great.
For the first few courses, we let everyone chit-chat naturally. By salad-time, I told the guests about the conversation starters. I let everyone take a few questions and choose their favorite one to answer. This method gave quiet people a chance to participate in the conversation and allowed for some interesting stories to arise! Here’s a great list of questions to use for conversation starters at a dinner party.
After the salad, I pulled out a palate-cleansing sorbet from the ice cream maker and gave everyone a scoop while we waited for dinner to finish cooking. After we ate, we voted on our favorite dishes:
- Most creative
- Best presentation
- Most delicious
I tallied the results in each category and announced the winners in each. The couple that had the most votes in every category was the overall winner for the Iron Chef award! The evening lasted about two and a half hours.
Party Tips for Success:
- Plan the party with a partner to get feedback and support. Divide the tasks to make the load lighter! Here’s how:
- Loni: Compiled the list of invitees and contacted them. Assigned each member a course and a secret ingredient drawn out of a hat. Provided the main course meal and offered her home to babysit our combined kids!
- Jennica: I made a cute invite, prepared my home to host with the table set china from my Grandmother. Printed the voting cards, provide the prize for the Iron Chef winner! (*Which I never actually gave- oops.)
- Make sure everyone can easily sit at one table so all can converse together.
- Offer conversation topics so everyone gets a chance to talk and listen.
- Use the finest china you get your hands on. It was easy to load the dirty dishes in the dishwasher when we finished each course. Make sure your dishwasher is empty before you start your party!
- The more you can get “into” throwing the party- the better! Invite those that like to cook to participate. Be specific about the rules: no store-bought ready items and no kids. You could also get your guests excited to attend by letting them know about the prizes ahead of time. Offer extra points for dressing like a chef or watching Iron Chef together before-hand.
By the end of the night, everyone genuinely had a great time and reported they would like to attend again!
My friend Chrissy did an Iron Chef Tournament with her in-laws family and they loved it! Everyone competed for the same course: desserts, salads, or appetizers. Here’s how they did it:
- Divide into groups of three adults.
- Give everyone a cash envelope with the same budget.
- Each team gets thirty minutes to plan their dish and then the timer starts!
- You shop as a team and prepare the meal in the same home (they had 2 kitchens).
- Invite friends/neighbors over to judge (I was one of the judges) and vote for the best dish!
Chrissy said she loved getting together and seeing the collaboration and competition with the family.
2) Traditional Work Party, Jazzed Up:
We’ve hosted my husband’s work Christmas party for the last couple of years. We’ve kept the event relatively simple by getting together and meeting the spouses. It’s potluck style with the host providing the cooked turkey.
Here are a few ways to make a work party fun:
- We placed a funny phrase under each person’s plate. Each guest reads the phrase (silently) and tries to secretly incorporate the phrase in a normal conversation. Each time you say your phrase without getting “caught” you get a point. The person that gets the most points at the end was awarded a prize! The phrases were things like:
- Do you mind scratching my back for me?
- The best way to spread Christmas cheer is for singing loud for all to hear!
- Sometimes I think about salmon spawning.
- Does my tongue look blue to you?
- I could really go for some peanut butter and pork rinds right now.
- Did you know I am doing a night course in roof thatching?
- Do you know anyone that plays the ukulele?
- Can you smell broken glass right now?
- What was your favorite childhood Christmas memory?
- Who are you most looking forward to seeing this season?
- This game was quite a hit with everyone!
- My husband’s company gave a fun gift to all the employees last year: the bug-a-salt gun. It’s a fun replacement for a fly-swatter. Everyone opened up their gift and tried it out on each other. It shoots like a rifle with table salt and kills flies!
- One of Josh’s partners brought his karaoke equipment and that was a fun way to see everyone’s personalities in a different light.
- Two years ago we played Heads Up: a reverse-charades game. I’m sure you’ve heard of this app- Heads Up because it’s fun and easy for a group of 8-18ish people!
- This year we played Left Center Right: A gift exchange game, but the winner goes home with ALL the presents!
- One year, my My sister-in-law made us a cute gingerbread cookie decorating station.
- I think it would be fun to go bowling for the work party next year! Have you ever done that?
3) Mock-tail Party.
The third and last party is one I’m excited to host. I live in Utah, we have a strong presence of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Part of our beliefs includes following the Word of Wisdom, which means we do not drink alcohol, so cocktail parties are not a part of our culture. But, they look fun! This year I’m hosting a “Mock-tail party”! The theme is basically all things FANCY. The dress code is formal, we’ll drink fancy looking drinks (without the alcohol) eat fancy hors d’oeuvres. I’m also collecting items to fill kits for homeless people in our community. We may be doing a gift exchange (white-elephant style) for some added fun. I’m not sure- this party is still in the works. I’m thinking this party will work just perfect for New Year’s!
There you have it! Three fun ways to make a holiday party fun! Which party sounds like the most fun to you?