Here are invitation ideas that won't get lost amid the glut of holiday greeting cards.
1. Type the invitation on a piece of paper that's geared to your celebration (Christmas, Winter Wonderland, Snowman, Starry Night or generic)
2. Roll and tie with ribbon
3. Insert the invitation into a clean, empty plastic soda, water, shampoo or salad dressing bottle.
* For a Christmas party add:
* A sprig of pine (or a stem of rosemary which resembles a pine sprig), mini ornaments or Christmas trinkets
* Winter Wonderland, Snowman or generic party add:
* Artificial snow or bits of white tissue paper
* Starry Night Party add:
* Star glitter
5. Attach appropriate festive stickers. Add a pre-addressed label.
6. Mail from the post office. (Be sure to mail one to yourself first to determine the length of time it takes to arrive and its condition.)
For a Christmas trim-a-tree or ornament exchange party:
* Remove the hook from a clear, plastic Christmas ornament. Roll and insert your invitation, being careful to leave a little piece sticking out for easy retrieval.
For any type of seasonal celebration, attach your invitation to a packet of hot chocolate mix or a festive tea bag.
Short on time? Send a pre-printed invitation with a Christmas ornament, Christmas tree topiary, Christmas snowman or generic snowman or Christmas tree design.
For a Christmas Party
* Add a wreath to your door adorned with candies, birds, fruit or any ornaments you'd like.
* Attach a Christmas wreath balloon for a whimsical child's party
* Let Santa greet your guests with a full-body cutout or a 3-D head design.
* Snowman or Winter Wonderland
* Add a snowman bucket or basket to your front door design.
* Starry Night celebration
* Create a collage of stars on your door.
* Greet your guests with the sounds of holiday music..
* Tie snow garland to your indoor plants to give them wintery feel.
* Rim archways or tables with holiday garland .
* Use fresh pine cones and fruits with candles as mantel decorations.
* Fill a basket with pine cones, ornaments and pine sprigs. (After the holiday, place the pine cones outside for squirrels and birds, yet to fly south for the winter.)
* Give your bathroom a holiday touch (and cut down on your laundry) by placing Christmas topiary, colorful ornament or snowman design guest towels for your company's use.
* Suspend snowflakes cut from doilies on white thread from the ceiling fan (set on low) to give guests a feeling of dining outdoors in a blizzard.
* String snow garland from doorways or windows as a "curtain."
* Line your walkway with luminarias you created from white, silver and/or gold paper bags, sand, votive candles, and paper punch (or use a large needle to create) designs to let your dinner guests know they're on the right trail to your holiday happening.
* Adorn the backs of each chair with a holiday garland or ribbons.
* Add glow to the gathering with a collection of holiday candles such as a snowball style or snow family creation for a Winter Wonderland or Snowman celebration or a tree ornament design or a red and green star-shaped pillar for a trim-a-tree or Christmas party.
* Save hours of gift wrapping by simply using colorful gift bags which can be color-coordinated with your decor to really add sparkle under your tree.
* Take turns reading Twas the Night Before Christmas
* Bring out the camcorder or tape recorder and interview the guests (especially the elder family members) about memories of earlier holiday celebrations. If you've done this in the past, play the previous tapes. Add recollections of any guests who had not been to your previous taping. Then make a copy of the tape(s) for each family and to send to out-of-area relatives who missed the celebration.
* Get the kids to make up placecards by creating Christmas ball, snowflake, gingerbread man or snowman designs.
* The kids also can cut out and decorate Christmas ball, snowflake, gingerbread man or snowman designs from light pieces of cardboard for use as trivets to keep hot plates from marring your table.
* Ask each guest to bring a non-perishible food item to make up a basket to give to a less fortunate family through your church or temple. There will be an even greater need after the holiday when many folks forget about their giving spirit but your area's less fortunate still need food.
* Collect everyone's favorite leftover turkey, ham or other meat or seafood dish recipe you generally serve and share with all the guests.
* Share your good fortune by inviting friends or neighbors who may be celebrating the holiday alone.
* Ask each guest to share a special "thank you" as a gift to someone at the celebration who was particularly helpful to them that year.
* Instead of having everyone sit and enjoy their gifts on Christmas morning (or on Christmas Eve), bring your family to help out at a local soup kitchen. It's a great gift to share with your children by giving them an appreciation of their own good fortune and to teach generosity of spirit.
* Encourage younger guests to look through their toys or clothing for items in good condition to take to donate to a shelter or charity.
* Have each guest write a letter to someone who is serving overseas in the armed services to thank him or her for their efforts. Contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross for information on writing to a serviceman or woman. To find a local chapter, go to: http://www.redcross.org or look in your Yellow Pages.
* Ask each guest to bring a favorite dish and then compile a list of menu items and the chef's name to create a program to put at each guest's place setting. It won't be a hardship on your guests who will enjoy being able to participate and it will be less work for you.
* Tie ribbon or garland to stemmed glasses for greater holiday flair.
* Food will be more festive when set into holiday designed platters and bowls .
* Lightly spray your tablecloth with hairspray, then while the cloth's still damp, sprinkle holiday style confetti and then mist it again with hairspray to help set the pieces. Let dry and set your table as usual. After the party, use a small brush to loosen the confetti and shake inside a plastic trash bag.
* Try one new recipe to share with your guests and be sure to have copies of the recipe on hand to share. (Don't serve too many untried dishes to ensure you have enough food favorites.)
* Give a gift to yourself by substituting paper plates for china in a tree ornament design, Kris Kringle, Christmas snowman, generic snowman, Christmas tree, whimsical Santa, or star shape design to serve hors d'oeuvres or dessert. Don't forget that plastic glassware will save you time in the kitchen as well.
* Cut paper towel, toilet tissue or wrapping paper tubes into 1-2 inch sections and have children pretty them up with colored yarn, paints, paper, stickers and/or glued trinkets for use as napkin rings.
* Wrap utensils in napkin packets and place in a whimsical basket or bucket at the end of your buffet table.
Party Favors, Gifts and Prizes:
* Compile a packet of dinner recipes to share with your guests.
* A book of Holiday stories from around the world will keep guests grateful for years.
* Send each family home with an assortment of leftovers for them too to enjoy covered in a holiday design plastic wrapper.
* Every home will be merry with a holly design napkin holder
* No family will be able to resist the charm of one of the snowman family items or the Claus family collection .
* Kids will love treat packs, without or without the snack when they come in a Santa puppet style packets..
* What child can resist the fun of stickers ?
Phyllis Cambria, Official Holiday Spokesperson for Louis Kemp Seafood Company shares her party planning expertise in the Keep Your Cool Holiday Helper
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