Holiday parties are the cornerstone of the holiday season. Planning one inevitably brings unwanted stress. One way to take the pressure out of the equation is to plan a party that takes the focus off you, and onto others, while simultaneously making an event for your guests that will be special and memorable for years to come.

Use this gathering time with your friends to harness their help in giving something back to others. Charity holiday parties are a fun way to build comradery, help others, and create celebrations of a special night that just might become a new holiday tradition. Here are a few options to inspire you.

Gift-Wrapping Party


It’s one thing to buy toys for a local charity – it’s quite another to gather around and wrap the gifts you’ve shopped to give to others. Send out an invitation asking everyone to bring new toys for children. Instead of dropping them off at the door, get the guests involved in the wrapping. Create different stations for each stage of the wrapping process — paper and cutting, taping, and decorating. If you have the room, you can even dedicate an area for “toy building” for big items like bikes, tricycles, doll houses and trucks.

Support Our Troops


Send out of a list of items with your party invitation that the military needs for care boxes – which could include toiletries, books, cookies, batteries, music, clothing, plastic storage bags, games, beverages, and other snacks which will be used to fill the boxes to the top. Set up an assembly line along your dining room table to pack and seal the boxes. Don’t forget to include a special station for people to write holiday cards thanking the service men and women for their contributions.

Caroling!


Don’t forget this old tradition of going house to house to spread holiday cheer by singing around the neighborhood – and don’t forget the local fire station. Even better, call ahead to nursing homes and hospitals and arrange to take your group there to surprise the residents and patients.

Cookie Decorating and Gingerbread House Building


You supply the cookies and the gingerbread, already pre-made, and let your guests decorate and build. Make it even easier, by using small milk cartons and graham crackers for house frames and sugar ice cream cones as trees. Have guests bring their confectionary decorations, which could include colored sugars, icings, gumdrops, and candies. Use card tables to distribute the decorations into stations and start decorating. Then, donate the cookies and houses to family shelters, the local fire station, children’s hospitals and senior centers.

Build Some Bears


Bring some comfort to needy children in your area by hosting a bear-building party at a local animal-building center. Many of these centers host parties for kids, so why not turn it into an adult party, with the purpose of building bears for others. Once the bears are built, present them to family shelters and children’s hospitals.

Comfort Food for Parents of Sick Kids


Sadly, illness never stops just because it’s the holidays. Children’s hospitals are always full of sick children, with equally tired and weary parents, grandparents and siblings. One way to help is to bring pots of soup, casseroles and sugar cookies for the families in the waiting rooms who are there with their children. You can invite everyone to your own kitchen to group cook the meals, or have everyone show up at the hospital with their favorite “comfort dish.”

Treat Your Guests


The holiday season is a magical time of year – and you’ll want to make sure you keep your guests provided with plenty to eat, drink and enjoy. You can keep the menu simple by serving protein-rich protein appetizers, or throw together a couple of warm pots of chowders or chili. You can always buy ready-made casseroles from your favorite restaurant that you can simply cook in your own oven at home. Don’t forget to turn off the stove top and oven – and make sure nothing flammable is near the flames while you’re heating the food. Add a sweet dessert tray, and you’ll have all the food you need.

Alcohol Precautions


Make sure you have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available, including a bucket of ice and a few pitchers of water. If you choose to serve alcohol, remember that you can be held legally responsible for your guests’ actions after they leave your party. Never rush to refill their glasses, and keep your eye open for anyone who is drinking more than you think they should. Stop serving alcohol at least an hour before everyone leaves to distribute the treasures you’ve made for the local charities, and again before the end of the party. Plan ahead, assign designated drivers and have pillows and blankets available and encourage guests to spend the night if you think they shouldn’t be driving. Otherwise, call a cab for them.

Safety First


  • Make sure that your property is safe from hazards. Clear ice from your walkways, driveway, sidewalks, steps, and porch – or any other area where people can slip. Cleaning does include leaves or branches that could cause people to trip, and ensure that broken steps or loose banisters are repaired.
  • Keep the walkways well lit, and overall keep your property well-lit, inside and out. Instead of candles, purchase LED holiday lights. They provide the same warm glow of candles, without the risk of fire, and use far less electricity.
  • Put away any breakable and valuable items.

With a little pre-party planning, you can head into your party much more relaxed, so that you can enjoy all the good times the holidays bring. Thinking of others is a great way to re-direct the holiday frenzy into something that will make you feel good inside while caring for others. Before planning a party in your home, it is important to speak with your Cole Harrison agent about your homeowner’s coverage to find out if there are any conditions or limitations your policy might have, including a liquor liability coverage.

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