This weekend I hosted my 4th Annual Christmas Party. Each year it is different. This time it turned out to be a small event. My husband and I love to play games, so usually we have everyone eat and then we pull out the board games. But I wanted to do something a bit different this year, and hosted a SoleHole party at the same time. This would help our guests focus on a mission project for part of the event time before we broke out into gaming groups.
I think it went well! The guests are the ones who would know better than I, but we all worked together to create patterns for 12 pairs of shoes for children in Uganda. Something special happens to relationships when Christians serve together. And as I walked around the room watching and helping my friends of different generations working with each other, enjoying each others’ company, and loving people they will never meet, it made my heart happy.
Now that the event is over, I’ve had time to process what worked and what did not work. I’ve taken moments to think back over the past few months and weeks and here is a list of what I learned from hosting a Christmas Party.
1. Use paper invitations. I was going to do this BUT! I gave Evite one more chance and I should not have. Of the many invitations I sent out, only about a fourth of them showed that they were not even opened by those invited. Towards the day of the event, I had to go onto Facebook and make sure that people had even received the Evite.
2. Don’t expect RSVPs. People are busy, and when they know they cannot go to an event, they chose to ignore the RSVP rather than take the time to respond “no.” That’s just the way it is. There are a few who respond and explain why their schedule conflicts, but for the most part, you will never hear from the majority of the people you invite.
3. Don’t take no-shows personally. I would hope most people would decline an invitation for a legitimate reason. These people are your friends after all. A few weeks before my party, I started getting down on myself and wondering what I had done to offend all of these people who weren’t going to come to my party, or who had not responded to the Evite. But I had to remind myself of those who WERE coming. My husband and I were going to get to spend extra fun time with these specific people who were carving out time from their lives to spend an evening with us. That made those few people even more dear to me.
3. Decorate the space you have. I have an amazing garage. It’s like the Magic School Bus and can turn into anything! So food stays in the kitchen and dining area, but everyone eats out in the Garage Christmas Party Room. Because it is large, I can set up tables and people can eat and converse with ease. We set up a few heaters, if needed, and the door to the house stays open. I love it!!
4. Be simple. I’m NOT Martha Stewart. So I keep things simple. Some years I’ll go online and search for decorating ideas, but I have found that simplicity can be elegant. If I find an idea I like and I do not have all of the items to make it happen, I’ll either improvise, or wait until the after Christmas sales and save that idea for the next Christmas Party.
5. Use items you already have. Hosting a party does not have to be expensive. I think I spent more money on the roast and turkey than I did on decorations. I did have one new decorating thing I wanted to attempt, so I splurged on some garland and electric candles, but other than that, I used everything I already had.
6. Remember your motivation to host the party in the first place. My husband and I enjoy hosting this party because we get to give a date night to our friends. We also get to spend time with them. And this year, we had the opportunity to serve the Lord as a group. Remembering the main reasons why I host this gathering helps me to not stress myself out as much. It will be ok if I still have a homeschool book stack in the kitchen. People are not going to mind if my kids run in and out of the room. It does not matter that there are four crates of sweet potatoes hidden by a table in the garage.
7. Ask people to help you clean up. When the party is winding down, or there are a few spouses waiting for the others to finish a game, ask them to help you clean up. Again, working on projects with other people can be just as enjoyable and memorable as sitting and eating together. Not only does clean-up duty get the job done, but you get to spend a few more quality minutes with people you care about.
8. Have fun and do what you enjoy. I love Christmas. I love what the holiday represents. I love Christmas lights. I love shiny things. I love candles. I love Christmas trees. I love my friends. I love playing Dutch Blitz and Carcassonne WITH my friends. And so my husband and I host this party.
Next year the Christmas Party will different. I have some snazzy decorating ideas I found that I want to try, and I forgot to make some of my Christmas candy. People will be invited and those who can will come. But until then, the thought that 12 children in Uganda will have shoes to wear because of our small effort is pretty awesome. Not only will they receive shoes, but they will hear about Jesus.