As wonderful as holiday traditions can be, there's something to be said for mixing up your usual celebrations. Getting creative with the decorations, activities, and menu can take your holiday party from just another gift exchange to a truly memorable event — and help you and your friends enjoy the holiday season to the max. This year, think beyond the typical pine garlands and sugar cookies and use these five festive tips to plan a party your guests won't ever forget.
The standard holiday decor of snow-dusted trees, glistening ornaments, and kitschy Santa figurines isn't the only way to go. Not everyone wakes up to a dusting of snow on Christmas Day, so why not imagine a more tropical holiday with a Christmas in Hawaii theme? Deck the place out with palm fronds, brightly colored leis, and surfboards wrapped in twinkling lights, then ask guests to come in their beachy best. Think floral shirts paired with neon sunglasses, Santa hats, and coconut bras.
For a fresh take on the gift exchange, try a low-stakes twist on the usual white-elephant swap. Ask every guest to bring two of their favorite things under $5, then pile them on a big table. It doesn't have to be a traditional gift, either: it might be the best hand lotion for dry winter weather or your favorite king-size candy bar. Everyone gets to choose two gifts, but here's the catch: you all get to pick your gift at the same time, and it's first come, first served. You'll definitely see your friends' competitive sides come out in the mad dash for the gift table.
Would it even be a party in 2021 without a photo booth? Let's be real, your friends are going to expect some kind of Instagram-worthy setup where they can take photos. Find a spot in your home with a nice backdrop — the Christmas tree is always nice, but any plain wall works too! — and set up a side table with over-the-top props. Take the holiday vibes to the next level with options like fake Santa beards, elf hats with built-in ears, or snowman masks. Don't forget to set out an instax Link WIDE™ smartphone printer so your guests can print instant photos from their phones when they're done posing. Guests can easily add text, apply a filter, or make a collage of several photos. You can even create a custom template for your party to add a festive border or message to the photos.
Any good party is going to need a few snacks. Instead of setting out the usual spread of chips and dip, create a tasting flight for your guests. Create a hot-cocoa bar where guests can sample different brands to choose their favorite, or buy every flavor of novelty candy cane you can find. If you want to turn it into a full-blown activity, you can even create scorecards and have everyone rank their favorites.
One of the best parts about going to birthday parties as a kid was seeing what goodies you'd take home in the gift bag. Your friends will be surprised and delighted to see that they get to take home a party favor when they leave. It doesn't have to be anything big: even a small token like homemade peppermint bark or instax® instant photos from the photo booth can still mean a lot to your guests. After all, the joy of giving gifts is what the holiday season is all about.
Design: Mia Coleman