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! However, I believe that 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 people from our neighborhood that could fit at my long table (we squeezed twelve of us on there!) Upon RSVP, each couple was assigned a course and a secret ingredient to incorporate into the dish. Everyone’s dish was delicious! We had:
- two appetizers
- a soup
- a salad
- a main course
- and a dessert. ( I also served a “palate-cleansing sorbet” right before the main course, which was fun!)
The secret ingredients we used: (with a few extra ideas)
- macadamia nut
We asked that everyone prepare 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.
We had everyone sit down and let each couple introduce their course, one at a time. With six courses and twelve people, there were a couple 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 be leaning on the person next to you… It’s the worst! So- I ended up moving myself and another woman to sit at the corners of the table with a bar stool. This freed up a few inches of space for added elbow-room for everyone.
Secondly, the conversation can get tricky. If you’re in the same spot for a long time it’s hard for all twelve people to be interested in the same topic, right? So… conversation cards to the rescue! I let everyone choose a few questions that were typed up and the strips of paper rolled up.
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 gives the 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.
Tips for success:
- Plan with a partner to get feedback and support. Divide the tasks to make the load lighter!
- Here’s how we divided it:
- Loni: Compiled the list of invitees and contacted them. Assigned each a course and a secret ingredient, drawn out of a hat. Provided the main course meal, and offered her home for the babysitting of our combined kids!
- Jennica: Made a cute invite to text, prepared my house to host with the table set (with the china we got from my Grandmother). Printed the voting cards, provide the prize for the Iron Chef winner! (*which I panicked and didn’t actually give a prize—! I changed plans on announcing in each category at the last minute. It was just fun to hear who won and I got all distracted! anyway…)
- Here’s how we divided it:
- Make sure you can all sit at one table so you can converse together.
- Offer conversation topics so everyone gets a chance to talk and listen.
- Use the finest china you can get your hands on. It really wasn’t hard to load it in the dishwasher as 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 guest excited to attend by letting them know about the prize 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 inlaws family and they loved it! This method I have only judged, never participated. Here’s how they did it:
- Divide into groups of three adults.
- Give everyone a cash envelope with the same budget
- The teams get thirty minutes to plan their dish and then the timer starts!
- You shop as a team and start preparing in the same home (they had 2 kitchens). Everyone is competing for the same course: desserts, salads, or appetizers.
- Invite friends/neighbors over to judge 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 the last couple 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. For each time you are able to say your phrase without getting “caught”, you get a point. The person that is able to get 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 personally that can play a ukulele?
- Can you smell broken glass right now? etc etc.
- We also wrote up a few easier phrases. Normal-ish questions, like asking: “What was your favorite childhood christmas memory?” or “Who are you most looking forward to seeing this season?” etc etc. This game seemed to be 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 was fun for everyone to open up and try out on each-other. It shoots like a rifle with table salt and kills flies! (It’s basically a really fun replacement to a fly-swatter).
- One of Josh’s partners brought his karaoke equipment and that was fun way to see everyone’s personalities in a different light.
- Two years ago we played Heads Up: a reverse-charades game. It uses an app and 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 comes home with ALL the presents!
- My sister-in-law made us a cute gingerbread cookie decorating station one year.
- Lastly, I’m hoping we can go bowling for the work party next year!
3) Mock-tail Party.
The third party I want to mention is one I am looking forward to hosting! Because I live in Utah, we have a strong presence of Mormons here locally (AKA people of the LDS faith). Part of our beliefs includes following the Word of Wisdom, which means we do not drink alcohol, so cocktail parties aren’t a part of our culture. But, they look fun! This year I’ll be hosting a “Mock-tail party”! The theme will basically be all things FANCY. The dress code will be formal, we’ll drink fancy drinks (that look and taste fancy, without alcohol!) and eat fancy hors d’oeuvres. I’ll also be collecting items to fill small 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 Years’!
There you have it! Three fun ways to make a holiday party fun! Which party sounds like the most fun to you?