How to Organize an Amazing Holiday Party

Elegant or Casual?

Everyone, at one point or another in their life, strives to host an amazing party.  Those parties often fall on or around holidays.  Once you’ve decided which holiday you want to create and amazing party for, you can decide whether you want it to be fun and casual or a bit more elegant.  Mind you, occasions such as St. Patrick’s Day are not always the best holiday to throw an elegant party for.  If you want a bit more elegance, try New Year’s Day (or Eve), Valentine’s Day, or Christmas, maybe even Halloween.  Halloween could also be a holiday for which you throw an amazing casual party—other holidays in this category could include Cinco de Mayo, the Fourth of July, and Earth Day.  You could even create an amazing party for lesser-known holidays, like National Dog Day, National Ice Cream Day, and Sweetest Day.

Now that you’ve chosen not only your holiday, but also whether you want to throw an amazing casual party or an amazing elegant party, you can start selecting your decorations.  Many decorations can work for either an elegant holiday party or a more casual holiday party.  Let’s tackle the elegant decorations first.

Amazingly Elegant Holiday Party

Hosting an elegant holiday party does not mean you have to procure fine china.  “Elegant party” does not always equal “sit-down dinner”.  You could provide snacks for your guests and supply beverage napkins and small dessert plates for them to use.   Don’t make all the snacks sugary and sweet.  Do add some healthy treats, too, especially if you offer bubbly, sweet beverages to your guests.

The beverages you serve can also reflect what type of party you’re hosting.  For an elegant holiday party, choose sparkling water or sparkling juice, so guests can use champagne flutes—this will uphold the feeling of elegance and create a sense of sophistication among your guests.  In order to add to not only the elegance, but also the decorations, look into personalized bottle labels.  This way, you’ll have a clearly labeled bottle that will appear as though it was created for your amazing holiday party.

Holiday Party Favors

Moving on, just because you want your party to be elegant does not mean you should leave balloons or favors out.  Whether you decide to have small standing tables for guests to gather around or larger tables for guests to sit at or even just your coffee table and end tables, every table needs a centerpiece.  These centerpieces can be made up of small balloons at a lower height (for the larger tables or your coffee table) or simply a glass cylinder filled with colored stones.

When you start to think about favors for an elegant holiday party, remember that edible favors are always a great idea.  This could be your chance to let the creative bug bite you.  Whether you decide to create personalized candy bars or lollipops or bake a little something extra and go out of your way to find, say, small picture frames to fill with thank-you-for-coming cards, you can put together a small favor bag for each of your guests so they have a way to remember your amazing holiday party.  The favors could also be holiday-appropriate, too.  If you’re hosting an elegant Christmas party, get crafty with some paint and empty Christmas ornaments—make an ornament for each guest, write the date in small print around the top of the ornament, and you have a wonderful favor that your guests will see each year.  For a more elegant Halloween party, create a larger treat bag with the classics: decorated sugar cookies, mini chocolates, and maybe homemade caramel apples (in their own bag inside the treat bag, of course).  The possibilities here are endless; you just have to find the right fit to your amazingly elegant holiday party.

Casual and Fun Holiday Party

Certain holidays make for easy casual holiday parties.  St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, and the Fourth of July are examples of holidays you’d be much more likely to create a casual party for—and understandably so!  Many of the holidays that fall into the “casual party” mindset fall during the warm-weather months; many people hear “Fourth of July” and think, “Hey, why not have a barbecue with the family?”

Those same small dessert plates and beverage napkins that were suggested for your amazingly elegant holiday party would be perfect for a fun, casual holiday party, also—especially for a party at which there are more snacks than actual food.  If you decide to host a backyard barbecue for your holiday party, full-sized plates are necessary.  As far as snacks go for a casual holiday party, this is the time you can fill bowls with potato chips, pretzels, and other salty snacks.  You can then balance out those salty snacks with cupcakes, cookies, and other classic desserts.

Because it’s a casual holiday party, you could make a fun, tropical punch for your guests.  Also, fill a metal tub with ice and stock up on water bottles and maybe even bottles of root beer and other types of soda.  This is another fun way to include those bottle labels and give your guests reason to think your holiday party is that much more amazing than others they’ve been to.  These labeled bottles can also be used as favors or decorations.  Decorations are a lot easier for a casual holiday party.  It’s also easy to find decorations and favors that are specific to each holiday.  By using those holiday-specific decorations and favors, a bit of stress is lifted off your shoulders so you can focus on the fun of the party.

Whatever holiday you choose, whether casual or elegant, throwing an amazing holiday party is easier than you think.  All the details are at your fingertips!  Once you’ve planned and hosted one holiday party, you’ll want to plan more—what better way to get your family and friends together than for an amazing holiday party?  Let your creative juices flow and plan away!

Party Favors for Christmas

Party hearty — but also think outside the favor box and use Christmas party favors for many kinds of seasonal giving.

In the Neighborhood
Many of us love to share our own homemade treats this time of year with friends, neighbors and the professionals we see every day. A personalized container could be the perfect finishing touch for presentation.

  • Arrange cookies, candies and mini tarts in cookie tins
  • Candy jars can hold herb salt mixtures or secret-recipe spice rubs
  • Hand-crafted wines and beers deserve personalized bottle labels

If you are having a regular bash, jot down the name of the design you like for your labels and containers. Popular Christmas designs such as Traditional Ornaments, Blue Sky and the Sweet Christmas line will show up also in products for entertaining, including Christmas banners, coasters and invitations. Add coordinating solid color tableware to these items and you’ll be ready to rock your Christmas par-tay.

At Work and Play
Gift exchanges are a fun part of Christmas season life, but of course most of us are working with budgets so the question is how to give to office mates or teammates something nice without busting the Christmas Club account. Here are a few ideas under $5 each if you have a large enough group that you can take advantage of volume pricing:

More Gifting
We know a pair of newlyweds who are building their glassware collection; maybe you do too! Venture out from the Christmas party favors pages and check the newly expanded collection of unimprinted glassware for sophisticated flutes and sassy martini glasses.

For unique gifting, the Photo Puzzle might be just the ticket. Transform a favorite photo of the kids or grandkids, cherished pets or a dream vacation into a jigsaw for your favorite puzzle fan.

Along the way be sure to browse Stocking Stuffers for those small but thoughtful gifts: lip gloss for the resident princess, a silver keytag for the new driver in the family, or a plush animal for anyone who could use a new friend!

Five Best Cities for Holiday Christmas Light Displays

While the rest of the world is cleaning up from Thanksgiving and gathering their Christmas décor from the attic, some Americans have spent the past several months preparing for some of the most elaborate and out-of-this-world holiday light displays in America.

Shindigz, a party supply retailer, set out to find the five most dazzling holiday light displays in America. And, baby – Clark Griswold ain’t got nothin’ on these masterpieces!

5. Nashville & Sevierville, TN – New Market, MD – Myrtle Beach, SC

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland

With four locations confirmed for 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee, Sevierville, Tennessee, New Market, Maryland and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland is worth the road trip. Each drive through display contains hundreds of thousands of LED lights controlled by 1,600 different light circuits and perfectly choreographed to festive music. In 2010, Forbes Magazine featured Shadrack’s as a must-see holiday attraction. Pricing starts at $25 per car. The best part about Shadrack’s is that they understand the Shindigz motto to “Make Life More Fun” for others. Every year, Shadrack’s makes generous donations to organizations like Ronald McDonald House, American Red Cross and Toys for Tots among other local charities within the host cities. Our party hats are off to you, Shadrack’s!


4. Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival

Often compared to a real-life version of a country snow globe, the Christmas Lighting Festival in Leavenworth, Washington is the perfect mix of lights, entertainment and old-time holiday spirit. The streets of this Bavarian village feature a sea of twinkling lights, carolers, chestnut vendors and horse-drawn carriages. Bring the family for activities like sledding, caroling, live music and an incredible live nativity. As stated on their website, Leavenworth’s country atmosphere and holiday festivities are enough to make put any snow globe to shame.


3. Wheeling, WV

Oglebay Festival of Lights

This incredible display opened in 1985 in Wheeling, West Virginia and has grown into a spectacular attraction of 75 larger-than-life light displays spanning 300 acres over a six mile drive through the Oglebay Resort. The Festival of Lights was featured on the Travel Channel’s Extreme Christmas Celebrations show and has gained notoriety across the nation. The Oglebay Festival of Lights is open through January 8, 2012 on Sundays through Thursdays until 10:00 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays until 11:00 p.m. A per car donation is requested and the pass is valid for the entire festival season.


2. Gatlinburg, TN

Smoky Mountain Winterfest

Although this festival spans three cities including Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Gatlinburg, the brightest sights and holiday events of Smoky Mountain Winterfest can be found in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This annual festival is a breathtaking scene of snow covered mountains set behind millions of twinkling lights and several holiday parades. With events like the Festival of Trees, Fantasy of Lights parade, Trolley of Lights Tour and New Year’s Ball Drop and Fireworks show, Gatlinburg in December is one bright spectacle to behold. While Pigeon Forge and Sevierville have equally entertaining events, our vote for best light displays at Winterfest goes to the Gatlinburg version.


1. Branson, MO

Silver Dollar City

Located in Branson, Missouri, the Silver Dollar City Holiday Festivities should be on every holiday bucket list. Therefore, it’s the number one city on the Shindigz list of best Christmas Light Displays in America. Christmas on Main Street kicks off the festival with the lighting of a 5-story tall musical Christmas tree with over a million lights choreographed to many favorite Holiday tunes. Shortly after, the Gifts of Christmas Holiday Light Parade takes over the streets with over 100,000 dazzling lights. This parade takes place not once, not twice, but 4 days each week through December 30th. Want even more? The Branson Area Festival of Lights is a magical one mile long drive through thrilling lights and holiday spirit. With over 175 displays, this unique holiday showcase is guaranteed to please the oldest and youngest of guests. The Branson Area Festival of Lights is open daily through Jan. 2, 2012, from dusk until 11 p.m. Prices start at just $12 for a family vehicle. We wouldn’t be surprised if you could see this city from space in December.

Thoughtful Tips for a Very Merry Holiday

Christmas tree costume

Let the Christmas tree spirit in you shine this holiday!

It Is Never Too Early to Start Planning
Spread holiday party preparation out. For example, buy your party supplies and decorations now, instead of waiting until the last minute to make purchases!

  • Turn the TV off and the holiday music on – you’ll be surprised how much more you will get done. Plus, you won’t have the added stress of comparing what you are doing to what the “perfect families” are doing on TV.
  • Keep your holiday address list on your computer so you can print out address labels. Many fonts are decorative and you will save significant time versus addressing each one.
  • Make lists during your wait times. When waiting in line at the grocery or while working on the treadmill, make lists of everything. People on your gift list, dinner menus, decorations to buy, etc.
  • Make your most stressful holiday events a celebration in and of themselves. If you hate to decorate a tree, make it family fun tree night. Proclaim dinner to be elf pizza (easy to order and it’s what the elves do) so you don’t have to cook. Pop popcorn, simmer some yummy pot pourri, pump up the Christmas carols and start a tradition. Give everyone old and young a task. The family will look forward to it each year. Add new ornaments every year, giving each family member a new one to hang.
  • Make Sunday afternoon, or any other day of the week, baking day. Have fun baking with family and friends. Host a cookie exchange to increase the variety of cookies during the season.
  • Plan your holiday travel plans now. If you plan to fly over the holidays, book the earliest flights in the morning so you’ll be less likely to experience a delay. If possible, avoid connections.
  • Plan and purchase a few holiday outfits to wear through the season for all types of parties – office holiday parties, neighbors’ open houses, New Year’s Eve parties, and cookie exchanges. Don’t wait until the last minute to shop for a new outfit!
  • Don’t overeat during the holidays with the promise you will lose weight starting in January. Set a weight goal for January 1, and stick with it. Enjoy all the holiday food in smaller helpings.

Try Something New
Start a new tradition for each holiday each year. Family members love the traditional aspect of holiday celebrations. Each year add to your own traditions by trying something new.

  • For Thanksgiving, make it a pre-dinner tradition to tell each family member or guest at the table one thing about them that makes them special.
  • For Christmas, have each individual select a figure from the nativity scene.Then, one-by-one, tell the story of Jesus’ birth from the figure’s eye. Include animals, angels, shepherds, the wise men and their unique point-of-view. This is a wonderful activity for children of all ages!
  • Prepare a birthday cake for baby Jesus and sing happy birthday on Christmas day.
  • For Hanukkah, ask the youngest and the oldest to tell the family the meaning behind the celebration and the importance of each element. Enjoy the differing views.
  • For New Year’s Eve, create a box of wishes for the New Year and select a wish each week throughout the year. A wish for a family movie night, for a day without arguing, a parents’ night out, a picnic visit to a nearby park—be creative!

Treat Your Family Like Company
Don’t save the best china, outfits, and decorations for guests. Treat the ones you are closest to and love the most to a holiday filled with the best!

Make It the “Year of Decorations” and Go All Out!
Even the tightest budgets can decorate using inexpensive items such as construction paper and Christmas balloons. Set your children or friends to making paper chains in red and green or blue and white. Decorate your with lovely paper and plastic tableware and a festive, gold cone tree centerpiece to let your family and friends know you think they are special (and no one has to wash the dishes!).

Don’t Forget the Special Favor or Memento
Providing family and friends with a treasured memento, such as a snowflake gel candle or personalized bath salts, will be appreciated as much as any large and costly gift you might give. Whether big or small, give your guests something to take home to remember the time you spent together over the holiday.

Keep Your Camera Ready!
Make sure your camera’s batteries are charged and ready to go. Keep spare “AA’s” in your camera case for emergencies. Leave your camera in an easy-to-get-to place for taking those spontaneous pictures of children baking cookies and playing in the snow. There is no such thing as too many photos or priceless memories!

Crafty, Christmas “Kid’s Table” Tablecovers

Let them create a Christmas Kid's Table Tablecover

Let them create a Christmas Kid's Table Tablecover

Many families that gather at the holidays have too many people to fit around one table. One common solution to this issue is to divide the guest seating into two tables, an adult table and a kid table. If this is the arrangement at your gathering, you may be wondering what to do this year for the tablecover at the kid’s table?

We have an artsy idea for you that will keep the little ones busy, while the adults enjoy a pleasant holiday meal at their table. The best part about this tablecover is that it is inexpensive, and it can go home with the artists if they choose to limit their artwork to their allotted section of tablecover.

Christmas “Kid’s Table” Tablecover:

  • Use flat white paper (item BGFPLN WHI) and red crepe streamers (STMCR2 RED) to create this look.
  • Cover the table top with white flat paper.
  • Create diagonal “candy cane stripes” using crepe streamers.
  • Add a small metal bucket (Item WESMMB) to each place setting filled with crayons (TOYCRA8).
  • The table cover becomes a craft by allowing children to draw and color on it during dinner.

Candy Cane Christmas Kid’s Tablecover:

  • In the middle of the candy cane tablecover, place a festive candy cane centerpiece. The kids will enjoy looking at this bouquet of candy canes.
  • In addition to the metal crayon bucket, place individually wrapped peppermint candy canes with an adorable snowman on the wrapper at each kid’s spot.
  • Kids love cupcakes! Make a batch of your favorite flavor cupcakes, frost them, and then put in the cute candy cane cupcake picks.
  • In keeping with the candy cane theme, decorate your party space with a few quick and easy holiday wall graphics. The wall graphics include: a personalized ribbon, a giant candy cane, a happy snowman, and a smiling gingerbread man.
  • At the end of the party, remove the tableware and food off of the table and take a picture of the masterpiece. Then, let each kid take home their section of the tablecover, if they so desire.

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