Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tis The Season: Easy Holiday Party Ideas

Happy December everyone! We are all wound up with Christmas cheer over here, especially now that the temperature has finally dropped below 80 degrees!  (Once it hits 60, I turn the gas fireplace on, regardless.)

We kicked off December with a bang....we had three Christmas parties and a parade on the calendar last week.  And even though I feel like I'm running on the backup Mama battery pack, we had a great time and made some memories.

I love to throw ANY party, but a Christmas party really just fills my heart. I used to do an Ugly Sweater Party, but OH MY STARS, those are almost as common as Santa Claus himself now. (I'just regret throwing out all those puff paint sweaters I made in the 90's because I'd be making a fortune right now.)

Last year I did a "Mama's Only" Pajama Party and we had a blast. Everyone seemed to really appreciate coming in their stretchy pants, so I decided to keep the theme this year. Last year, we did a "Sock Swap", so everyone bought a cute pair of socks. This year's theme was "My Favorite Things", so we all brought a gift (within a $15 limit) that was a "favorite" of ours. This was super fun because there were so many different items. There was swapping, switching and stealing over candles, lotion, cookbooks, tumblers, coffee, and bath bombs. We had a blast! You could go a million directions with this: scarf swap, book swap, jewelry swap, cosmetic swap, etc.....

Since we were already in our pajamas I decided to go with the theme and do "breakfast for dinner". I found some ideas on Pinterest about a Waffle Bar, and went with it. It was truly the EASIEST menu, because I really didn't have to cook anything!  I bought a bunch of toppings and mixed up some waffle batter and poured it in Dixie cups! Everyone was on their own to make their waffle!

I got the idea from Pinterest to line the counter with brown postal paper.  (Which I got at the Dollar Tree!) This was the BEST idea, because it caught the mess of all the batter and toppings! 
I borrowed a waffle iron from a friend so I had two stations. I'm sure the batter amount would change based on the waffle maker, but for a traditional round one, I found that 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of batter worked well. The 5 ounce Dixie cups were a perfect size!
And you can go crazy with whatever toppings you like. This could really be endless. For spreads, I settled on whipped peanut butter, strawberry jam, hazelnut spread, and flavored cream cheeses. For toppings, there was fruit, chocolate chips, whipped cream, pecans, cheese, and bacon. (TIP: Cook the bacon in the oven! Easiest thing ever! Cover a pan with foil and bake at 375 for 15 minutes on each side. I had seen this on Pioneer Woman but didn't expect it to really work for me. But it did and I'll never fry bacon again!) I didn't take a picture of the syrups, but I served honey, caramel sauce, regular syrup and powered sugar. 
The waffle bar was SO FUN and easy....this would be a great Christmas Eve or Christmas morning tradition too! on to Christmas Party #2! My friend Ashley took a fancier approach than my PJ Party, and hosted a Christmas Tea. And GEEZ LOUISE, she knocked it out of the park! Just look at how beautiful her table setting was!

She had this catered by a tearoom in Plano called Into My Garden. (They have an onsite tearoom, or they'll bring everything to you.) Everything was ABSOLUTELY delicious! We all laughed because at first, the sandwiches, breads, and scones doesn't look like much food, be we were stuffed by the time we were done. Ashley is a tea lover, so she had several different flavors and knew how to do it right!

This was such a fun girly party! Plus, having it at her house was small and intimate, where we could chat. (Because restaurants just get louder as you get older, right?) If having it catered isn't on your radar, this party idea could easily be recreated with a few breads, sandwiches, and some tiered serving dishes! (I'm sure Pinterest has ALL SORTS of ideas for you...)

Here's our attempt at a group picture using my self timer.........

Finally, we attended a Pancake Breakfast that my friend Jorie hosted for the boys. (This is our forced attempt at making this an annual tradition.) We arrived at her house at 9:30 a.m. (in our pajamas of course) and she fed us reindeer pancakes and we watched Christmas movies; The Grinch for the boys, then Fred Claus for the mamas. It was super cute and would be an great idea for any size group of kiddos!

Just look at that Rudolph pancake perfection!

I know the holidays are filled with endless obligations and commitments, but I love the memories that come along with it. There have been years when the parties just couldn't happen (like the year I had vertigo or the time we lived in a hotel for Christmas), and I'm CERTAIN this will be the case in future years. So the years that they DO happen make me super thankful!

I hope you're rockin' around the Christmas tree this season, and I'd love to hear any party ideas of yours!