Since we don't have any kids, Christmas tends to be less about hours at Toys R Us and more about relaxing with family and friends. The toy-shop trip still happens, since my husband collects toy trains and Transformers and anything else that's shiny and reminds him that he's a 12-year-old stuck in a 34-year-old's body. But the part of Christmas we look most forward to is our annual Christmas party.
But this is no tame Santa-Claus-and-caroling affair; it's a crazy holiday bash of epic proportions. This is a night of preposterous cocktails, R-rated presents and death-metal Christmas carol singalongs. This is when we celebrate the year's successes and forget its sorrows in a night of hilarity and indulgence. This is the party we're still talking about in April.
It's hard to reconcile the idea of a Christmas party being more than the usual tinsel and plushie reindeer antlers. But if you want to throw your own kick-ass Christmas Party, here's what you need to do:
1. Pick an extreme theme
"Why do I need to choose a them?" you ask. "Isn't Christmas the theme?" Not this year. Christmas parties bring to mind eggnog and cheesy Christmas jingles stuck on repeat and last-minute shopping for people you don't really even like.
But a kick-ass Christmas bash needs a theme that gets people in the mood to party. Think "Steampunk Christmas" or "A Piratical Christmas" or even "Christmas in Ancient Rome". Just come up with the theme of a party you'd really like to throw and tack the word "Christmas" in there somewhere. Anything that gives your friends an excuse to dress up and go a little nutso will be perfect.
2. Plan a Christmas game
A Christmas party isn't a Christmas party without a game or two, but you need to come up with something suitably kick-ass. Our game of choice--aptly called The Present Game--has been going strong for several years. Regular attendees even plan their gifts months in advance.
To play, instruct every person to bring a gift-wrapped present (valued at $10 or less) to the party. Everyone stands in a circle and the presents are placed in the middle. The first player chooses one of the presents and opens it.
Sounds like a pretty standard game, right? Well, it's not. The next player chooses to either open another present or steal a present off any of the previous players. That player can then have another turn (but they're not allowed to steal their present back in the same turn). The game continues until all the presents are gone or WWIII breaks out, whichever comes first.
"The Present Game" can only lead to present-stealing alliances and epic battles to be the person in possession of the pirate Lego or cans of silly string.
3. Concoct a Christmas cocktail
I know many of us need a liberal application of alcohol just to make it through the holiday season, so why not supply your guests with this much-needed medicine by way of a signature Christmas cocktail?!
You can find delish drink ideas online, especially by searching for cocktails based on your party theme. For example, no pirate Christmas party would be complete without the Captain's Treasure, made with 1 oz. Captain Morgan spiced rum and 1 oz. Goldschläger cinnamon schnapps.
Or keep everyone up all night with a little brew I like to call Santa's Savior:
1 oz. brandy
1 oz. Cointreau orange liqueur
1 oz. coffee
1 dash cream
Mix it all up; serve over ice.
4. Create an epic Xmas treat
The best thing about Christmas is, obviously, the candy. Every year starting in November the stores fill up with chocolate reindeer, nougat wise men, and an astounding array of sugarcoated, chocolate-filled, praline-encrusted goodies.
Any normal Christmas party should include bowls of delicious sweets stacked on the tables. But you're not throwing a normal Christmas party, and you're going to make these sweets into something epic.
You could create a modern art installation, decorate an epic Christmas cake, create a "make-your-own-ice-cream-sundae" buffet, or serve up a Christmas candy scavenger hunt.
It's easy to use candy to create a truly unique an edible centerpiece. Last year, my husband and I constructed a gingerbread Viking ship, complete with edible sails, dragon, sea monsters and a Viking horde. (Check out the pics and get instructions here!)
5. Get the soundtrack right
My dad once bought a Christmas present from a shop giving out a free, four-song Christmas CD. It's now one of our family traditionstrictly adhered to by my frugal fatherto play this CD on continuous repeat for the whole of Christmas day. Clearly I come from a family of masochists.
Your guests don't have to suffer the same fate. Here are my picks for non-annoying Xmas albums:
Christmas Special by The Boy Least Likely To
An album of English twee and glockenspiel happiness.
The Christmas Creep by Parenthetical Girls
If you've been holding out for "The Smiths do Christmas," this is the closest you're going to get.
Winter Songs by Rob Halford
The iconic Judas Priest frontman gives you something to headbang to these holidays.
Find more ideas and tips in our Holiday Survival Guide:
Holiday Bucket List for Couples
How to Host a Kick-Ass Christmas Party
Delicious Cocktail Recipes
How to Deal with In-laws
Turkey Dinner 101
Hilarious (and Helpful!) How to Roast a Turkey Video
Staying Home For The Holidays
Sweet and Salty Chocolate Bark Recipe