6 Fun and Frugal Themes for Holiday Gatherings

Posted by Amanda on December 3, 2014

Are you looking for some good, clean fun this holiday season? Hosting a get together and want to add a twist to it?

Have you ever participated in an ornament or recipe swap? What about a getting together to watch movies or bake cookies?

Here are six fun themes to add a little sparkle to your holiday gatherings this year and beyond.

Frugal Themes for Holiday Gatherings

  1. Ornament Swap: I called my Aunt last holiday season, and she was rushing out the door so could not talk. Where was she going to? An ornament swap party! Someone had invited over all of the neighbors to pick an ornament they did not like, bring it to the party, and swap it with another. I thought it was a great idea. Perhaps you won’t find an ornament to stick on your tree, but how fun to gawk at all of the other not-so-great ornaments out there (and a great conversation-starter!).
  2. Holiday Recipe Swap: Each of us has our own favorite holiday recipes. For me, it’s the pumpkin cream roll recipe I got from an ex-boyfriend’s mother. Second to that comes my husband’s grandmother’s creamed spinach. Then there is pecan pie…yummy. Send out an invite to a party at your place and ask that each of your guests bring a favorite holiday recipe to share with others. As an added touch, they can add a note on the recipe of where they got it from, or a happy memory they have from it, and then make several photo copies to share with everyone. Keep all of the recipes in separate piles on the table so that everyone can take one of each or as many as they would like. This dubs as a nice little party favor as well!
  3. Cookie Bake-Off and Brunch: Invite a group of pals over mid-morning to bake several different batches of cookies. You can pick some out ahead of time, or have each person bring their favorite cookie recipe to share and show the group how to make it. Ask that each person bring enough copies of their recipe for the group (that way even if you don’t get around to making all of the recipes, everyone can take them home). Figure out a way to divide up who will bring what (perhaps each person brings the ingredients needed for a batch of their recipe, or each person provides a specific ingredient type such as butter, vanilla, flour, etc.). Also, be clear on the ingredients you will be providing. For the brunch, choose a dish you can assemble ahead of time and just put in the oven during the bake-off. Some make-ahead brunch dishes include Brunch Enchiladas or Overnight Egg Casserole.
  4. Mini-Christmas Movie Marathon: There are some classic, moving Christmas movies that bring joy and restore our faith in each other. Of course, sometimes they are just down right hilarious (giggling brings joy as well!). Some of my favorites include: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Elf, Love Actually, and A Christmas Story. There are many others, like It’s a Wonderful Life, The Family Man, Miracle on 34th Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas…and the list could go on and on. Take an opportunity to introduce some of your friends and family to your favorite holiday movies, and ask them to bring theirs. Vote on which ones to watch in your Mini-Christmas Movie Marathon get together. Don’t forget to bake some cookies and make a batch of gourmet popcorn (my favorite is Martha’s sugar and spice, and am dying to try Cat Cora’s Vanilla-Curry popcorn).
  5. Gingerbread House-Making: Invite a group of your close friends over and have each person bring one construction material needed in order to assembler gingerbread houses. You could make one completely from scratch (in which case you might want to make the dough ahead of time as it needs to rise for two hours), or assemble one from various pre-constructed materials. Materials include: royal icing (the glue), graham crackers, hard candy for decorating, pastry bag, etc. Here is an article that offers free patterns for gingerbread houses as well as how to make your own patterns. Heat up some hot chocolate (don’t forget the whipped cream!), turn on a classic holiday movie in the background, and have some fun.
  6. Silly Holiday Sweater Party:
    There is that funny, awkward scene in Bridget Jones’ Diary when both Bridget and Mark Darcy show up in silly holiday sweaters that their mothers have gifted them. Why not give others the permission to wear theirs by hosting a silly holiday sweater party? Give others permission to come out of their homes with the most ridiculous, cute, and hilarious holiday wear they have on hand and spend a few hours giggling at each other in good holiday spirit.

Please share your own holiday theme parties in the comments below!

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Comments to 6 Fun and Frugal Themes for Holiday Gatherings

  1. Great list! I like the idea of a recipe swap, particularly if it were made up of less sweets since we seem to get bombarded with those around the holidays. Ooooh, I just had the genius idea of doing a gluten-free or paleo swap, how fantastic would it be to get some extra food in the freezer? Thanks for the inspiration.


  2. Would Amanda be willing to share her recipe for creamed spinach?

    Pete Senser

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