Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day 3 - Christmas Wreath Making Party

Green Holly Wreath Kit, at Paper Source


Ornament Wreath Tutorial, at Hope Studios

Gather a few friends, neighbors or some children to make homemade wreaths for all your front doors. Whether they're made of paper, real evergreens, wood branches, velvet strips or silk flowers, your handmade touch will bring extra joy to the season.

Decorative Silk Poinsettia Picks, on Amazon

Set out a snack food buffet on a side table, so your guests can help themselves while they work. This way you can spread out your wreathmaking supplies all over your dining table. Wreath making takes up a lot more room than making Christmas ornaments or writing and decorating Christmas cards.

At the end of the night, I suggest photographing each person holding their wreath before they leave. Print out pictures on paper to include in your guests' Christmas cards this year; or take the easy way out and just Facebook the pictures.


Caspari Ribbon Wreath Paper Plates, on Amazon

You're already making some decorations as part of the party, so just be sure your Christmas lights are lit, a few fragrant candles are lit around your home, and there's a fire burning merrily away in your fireplace.

Present your party's Christmas wreath theme by serving on Caspari wreath paper plates.


"It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas," by Bing Crosby, on YouTube

Buy Bing Crosby's "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas" MP3 on Amazon for 99 cents

Buy Perry Como's "It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" MP3 on Amazon for 99 Cents

Watch Perry Como "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" on YouTube

Dean Martin "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" on YouTube

Buy Dean Martin's "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" MP3 on Amazon for 99 Cents

Ultimate Classical Christmas Album, at Amazon

Making wreaths is such a traditional, time-honored Christmas activity, that I would recommend sticking to real traditional songs and classical or choir music.

Avoid music that might get too boring (such as Gregorian Christmas chants) but also try not to play anything too rock or pop or modern. Pick songs with a good upbeat tempo so you aren't falling asleep while crafting your wreaths.

50 Most Loved Christmas Carols, on Amazon

Leonard Bernstein: The Joy of Christmas, on Amazon


Sausage Wreath, from Free Fun Christmas

Walnut Cream Cheese Finger Sandwiches, at Taste of Home

Because this is a weeknight party and the wreath making supplies will take up all of the dining table, you might want to set out a buffet for snacks and appetizers. Use your sideboard or buffet if you have one, or two end-to-end card tables if you don't. Reserve your coffee table to place coffee, cocoa, drinks and desserts on at the end of the evening.

Slice a fresh baguette of French bread, set out a storebought spinach artichoke dip, offer a fruit tray and a veggie plate with dip, and serve a baked brie at the last moment. (It will get cold and harden fast, so be sure to invite your guests to dig in right away). A bowl of olives here, a bowl of peanuts there, a small plate of pickles and pickled corn will round out your party offerings.

You can also set out some baked appetizers from Trader Joe's, fingerling potatoes rolled in olive oil and sea salt on skewers, and finger sandwiches.


Peppermint Patty Cocktail, at What To Drink

Offer a traditional non-alcoholic drink or two (apple cider, non-alcoholic eggnog, punch) and your signature cocktail for the evening. Open a bottle of red wine too and make that available.

Comfort and Joy Tea, at Republic of Tea

Later on, when it's time to signal the evening's end approaching, offer hot coffee or tea (both with decaf options), hot cocoa or hot spiced apple cider.

(Just for fun, check out the Christmas Shot Glass Wreath. I don't recommend it for this party though!)


Christmas Wreath Cupcakes, by Phaedra's Adventures

If you have the time and talent, bake and decorate Sandra Lee's wreath cookies the day before the party.

Cranberry Coffee Cake, at

Serve desserts on your coffee table, so guests have an excuse to get up and stretch after hunching over their wreaths for so long. Offer just two choices - perhaps a nice hefty slice of fresh baked gingerbread cake, or a slice of cranberry coffee cake

Christmas Wreath Cookies, from Bright Ideas

Or you might find the M&Ms Christmas wreath cookies (shown above) fun to make and display.


Ultimate Wreath Book, on Amazon

Great American Wreaths: Best of Martha Stewart Living, on Amazon

Christmas Decorating: How to Make and Decorating Your Own Festive Cards, Baubles and Wreaths (on Amazon)


Holiday Cheer Book Wreath, from Homemade by Jill

Christmas Wool Felt Wreath (Heart of Light)

Christmas Wreaths (Family Crafts at

Cupcake Wreath - Edible Christmas Crafts (Tipjunkie)

DIY Wreath Roundup (Bride Side of Life)

Homemade Christmas Wreath (Simple as 1-2-3)

Menswear Inspired Holiday Rag Wreath (Home Sweet Homemade)

Peace Unto Earth Wreath (Be Homemade)

Pottery Barn Christmas Garland Tutorial (Between Naps on the Porch)

Semi DIY Glam Christmas Wreath (NewlyWife)

Simple Poinsettia Wreath (V and Co)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 2 - Christmas Ornament Making Party

Martha Stewart Gemstone Glitter Set, on Amazon


Martha Stewart Felt Ornament Kit, on Amazon

Gather together a few other craft-obsessed women, settle in at your dining table, and make your own homemade Christmas ornaments!

After you're done making fabulous ornaments with your own personal touch, you can swap the ornaments with other guests, keep your own ornaments to gift to friends, or immediately hang them on your own tree.

Since this is a weeknight/worknight party, keep the guest list kid-free; the party should end before 10pm.

Eat a simple meal (soup and salad, plus a crusty bread perhaps?) and nibble on storebought cookies as you work.


Ornament Tree Platter, from Crate and Barrel

Ornament Coasters, from Crate and Barrel

Jeweled Ornaments Napkins, on Amazon

This is a worknight party, so keep cleanup simple by serving on paper plates. Try ornament-themed napkins and paper plates if you can find them.

No need to put up any special decorations for this party - your regular home Christmas decorations will keep the party festive.

Be sure to have your outdoor Christmas lights turned on when guests arrive!


Christmas Wrapping, by The Waitresses, on YouTube

A crafty crowd will probably appreciate hip, folksy, or alternative Christmas music, plus some fun pop-styled Christmas songs. Put lots of female vocalists on your playlist. Think Christmas songs covered by famous musicians; Annie Lennox's new Christmas CD; the Christmas album by Cyndi Lauper, Destiny's Child's "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", Mariah Carey singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town, or soft holiday songs by Chris Isaak.

Annie Lennox Christmas Cornucopia, on Amazon

Perhaps your guests would enjoy listening to Harry Connick Junior's "What a Night" Christmas album while they work on their ornaments.

Depending on the demographics of your party guests, they might enjoy the Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album CD.

The "Maybe This Christmas Tree" various artists compilation has fun songs: Lisa Loeb singing "Jingle Bells," the Death Cab for Cutie version of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" and the Raveonettes performing "The Christmas Song."

2000 Miles, by the Pretenders, on YouTube

Buy the Pretenders "2000 Miles" MP3 on Amazon for 99 Cents

2000 Miles Cover, by Coldplay, on YouTube



Cooking Nook's Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Pastry Pockets

Since this is a worknight party, I wouldn't stretch out the appetizer and cocktail hour too long - you need to get busy creating your ornaments! I might stick with just two nice appetizers plus a bowl of olives or cocktail peanuts guests can help themselves to.

Beet Tartare and Goat Cheese Rounds (Food Connect)

Mushroom Onion Tartlets (Simply June)

Parmesan Pita Crisps (Good Housekeeping)

Roasted Red Pepper Mini Pizzas (Busy Cooks)

Stonewall Kitchen "Key Lime Cheese Ball" Mix, on Amazon


Moonstruck Classic Hot Cocoa, on Amazon

This is a party, so serve something fun and bubbly. But not too bubbly - people have to drive home tonight and get up for work in the morning! Instead of champagne, how about a sparkling white zinfandel, a sparkling syrah just for fun, a not-too-dry Riesling, or a deliciously sweet Asti?

For non-drinkers, serve hot tea, decaf coffee, apple cider, or something red and sparkly such as Izze sparkling pomegranate soda or your own homemade cranberry juice punch.


Martha Stewart's Freeze-Ahead Lasagna Primavera

Since you'll be busy at work all day and crafting an ornament at the party, keep your entree simple. Make a lasagna the night before, for example, and quickly throw together a delicious green salad. Pop a loaf of garlic bread in the oven just before guests arrive, set out a dish of sliced cantaloupe or a bowl of grapes, and you're good to go.

Mixed Green Salad With Citrus Vinaigrette (Food Network)

Rachael Ray's Mile High Lasagna

Giada's Butternut Squash Lasagna Recipe (Food Network)

Barefoot Contessa's Portobello Lasagna Recipe (Food Network)

Freeze Ahead Lasagna Primavera (Martha Stewart)


Martha Stewart's Ultimate Chocolate Cake

The month is still young, so your guests will still be eager for rich, chocolatey desserts. (Later in the month they might feel bloated and sugared out!)

I suggest a nice rich chocolatey cake you can slice and quickly serve after your guests have finished with their ornaments. Offering tea and coffee with the cake is a social cue for the ladies to pack up their things and be ready to leave after dessert.

Bake the cake the night before, and leave it carefully covered under a cake dome so it doesn't dry out. You can always pick up a cake at the grocery store on the way home, but I prefer to put a little more handmade effort than that into my parties (even if I cheat and use a box mix).

Stonewall Kitchen Brownie Mix, on Amazon

Or mix up a batch of brownies quickly the night of the party. Your house will smell fabulous, and the brownies will likely disappear so you don't have to be tempted by leftovers the next day like you might with cake!

Chocolate Cake (Recipe Rifle)

Chocolate Cake With Buttercream Cookie Dough Frosting (District Chocoholic)

Guinness Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (La Mia Vita Dolce)

Peanut Swirl Brownies Recipe by Ina Garten (Food Network)


Christmas Ornaments to Make, on Amazon

Treasures for the Christmas Tree, on Amazon


Christmas Ornament Stitchalong Blog

Christmas Reindeer Ornaments (Megpie Design)

Clothespin Reindeer Christmas Ornament Tutorial (Sew Gracious)

DIY Glitter Snowflake Ornament (The Glitter Guide)

Fabric Ornament How-To (V and Co)

Haul Out the Holly: Christmas Ornament Tutorial (Gwenny Penny)

Marsha's Ornament Exchange Party (Keeping the Christmas Spirit Alive 365)

Regency Silhouette Christmas Ornament Tutorial (The Magic Bean)

Chocolate Peppermint Roll (That Went Well)

Three Vintage Paper Ornaments to Make for the Holidays (Deck the Holidays)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 1 - Christmas Card Writing Party

Moonstruck Chocolate Advent Calendar, on Amazon


"Santa's List" Holiday Pop-Up Cards by Robert Sabuda, on Amazon

Gather together with friends to get an important chore out of the way: holiday card writing. Invite people to bring over their cards, address books, stamps, pens, photos, stickers, embellishments, glitter and other crafty supplies.

You can chat, listen to music, and keep each other company while you work on your Christmas cards. I prefer not to show movies at Christmas card writing parties, since movies make people want to look up at the screen instead of down at the card they're writing in.

Nordic Snowflake Hole Punch, from Paper Source

Encourage each other to finish, and inspire each other when you struggle to think of something to say to a particular relative.

MOMA "Santa in Sleigh" Holiday Cards, on Amazon


Wreath Moss Holiday Cards, from Paper Source

Your guest list will probably be comprised mainly of women - possibly mostly older women, since letter writing is a tradition that's dying out.

This is an ideal child-friendly party, too - other than it's a weeknight, school night party. Kids would love to come nibble on goodies and help make glittery, pretty Christmas cards to send to their relatives.


Christmas Card Writing Party, at Double Fun Parties


"Believe" Seasonal Pillow, at Pier 1 Imports

You may not have gone all out and fully decorated for the holiday yet. That's ok. You don't necessarily need decorations for this party - just a big table for everyone to spread out their things and work on. Or you could all settle in comfy chairs and lounge on couches, writing on lap desks or on magazines propped in your laps.

If you do decorate, stick to traditional red-and-white, red-and-gold or red-and-green, cheerful and colorful decor. You want to spark your guests' inspiration and put them in a festive holiday mood.

Fresh Blue Ridge Decorated Wreath, from Target

Be sure to have a festive wreath welcoming guests at your front door.

Lay the table with a festive, inexpensive holiday tablecloth that you won't mind getting gluey, glittery and inky from everyone's lovely card projects.

"Tis the Season" Plates by Meri Meri, at Amazon

Serve food on paper plates to make this worknight party easy to clean up afterwards!


Winter Garland Candle, from Bath & Body Works

Make things cozy by lighting a fire, setting out lit candles, and spraying your home with a holiday fragrance. Bring in fresh evergreen cuttings from your back yard, if you live in a wooded area.

Also, you can inexpensively make your house smell fantastically festive with this simple trick: Put one stick of cinnamon in a big pan of water on the stove and simmer it. Start about twenty minutes before guests arrive, and refill the pan with water a couple times during the party. (Don't forget to check now and then to make sure the pan hasn't boiled dry!) You can buy a jar of eight or so cinnamon sticks for less than $3 at Trader Joe's


Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, by the Ray Conniff Singers, on YouTube

Buy the Ray Conniff "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" MP3 on Amazon for 99 cents

Christmas With the Rat Pack, on Amazon

Because December is so new, your guests will likely be excited about the upcoming holiday. I recommend classic traditional Christmas songs. (Later on in the month when people are tired of hearing Christmas music everywhere, it's time to haul out things like the fun, modern new Annie Lennox holiday CD).

A Winter Romance, by Dean Martin, on Amazon

Select albums and compilations with happy, poppy, energetic songs to keep your guests' energy levels up. I recommend Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Brenda Lee, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and similar recording artists.


Cheddar Dill Puffs Recipe, from Gourmet Magazine

Because this is a weeknight party on a work night, you probably won't want to serve a sit-down dinner. That uses up too much time that your guests need to use writing and making their Christmas cards.

Instead, serve finger foods and appetizers. Try to keep them easy to pick up and easy to eat. Have plenty of napkins nearby - your guests will be using their hands to work with paper and envelopes, so they'll need a way to keep their hands clean as they nibble on treats.

Christmas Card Writing Party Appetizers (Taste of Home)

Christmas Nibbles (MSN Recipe Finder)

Five Little Nibbles With Puff Pastry (The Kitchn)

Homemade Cheese Straws (Martha Stewart)

Lemon Garlic Chickpea Dip with Veggies (Rachael Ray)

Lemon Thyme Bruschetta (The Kitchn)


Because this is a worknight party, I wouldn't serve too many alcoholic drinks. Perhaps just a festive Grinch cocktail or a Holly Berry for each guest. Then I'd move on to non-alcoholic beverages if they're thirsty, and hot drinks if they're chilled.

Wow your guests with a San Pellegrino sparkling soda they've probably never seen: Chinotto. Serve it over ice for a non-alcoholic beverage, or create cocktails with it.

This bitter orange drink might be too strange for some of your guests, so also have standard festive fare on hand like Martinelli's sparkling juices or sparkling beverages from Trader Joe's.

Also offer hot beverages - tea and coffee in both caffeinated and decaf varieties, as well as a festive mug of steaming hot cocoa.

Bobby Flay's Mulled Cider, at Food Network


Brandied Mince Tarts Recipe, from King Arthur Flour

60 Christmas Cookies, at Woman's Day

Serve desserts that are easy to pick up with one hand and eat while writing with the other. Things like cookies or mini tarts. Nothing that requires a spoon or fork! I also wouldn't serve mini cupcakes because the frosting is messy, or powdered sugar cookies like Linzer or Russian teacakes.

Easy Christmas Cookies, at Delish

If you have time, bake cookies ahead of time. Or pick some up at an elegant bakery - try to avoid just picking up a bag of Chips Ahoy or boring Pepperidge Farm at the grocery store. Trader Joe's has some good quality, attractive cookies at an inexpensive price, too.

Candy Cane Cookies (A Good Appetite)

Mini Pecan Tarts (Mehan's Kitchen)


Merry Christmas From: 150 Cards You Wish You'd Received, at Amazon

Papercrafts for Christmas: Making Cards and Decorations, on Amazon


Christmas Card Babysitting Swap Idea (Over a Cuppa)

Christmas Card Quotes (

Christmas Quotes (Making Greeting Cards)

Christmas Letter Tips

5 Fabulous Christmas Card Tutorials (Passionately Artistic)

Simple Pleasures: Homemade Cards (This Time, This Space)

What Not to Do: Readers Share Notoriously Bad Christmas Letters (MSNBC)

Santa Owls Holiday Cards, on Amazon