3 simple pre-holiday get-together ideas

Easy ways to relax and have fun with friends and their families before the holiday madness takes over

By Amanda Factor
3 simple pre-holiday get-together ideas

The holidays are a time of family and food and presents…and cleaning and cooking and non-stop shopping. Before the insanity takes over your life for a full calendar month, book off an afternoon and invite your favourite families over for some quality time. Here’s some inspiration for a festive hangout.

Crafternoon When you get two or more crafters in the same room, you get…a crafternoon (we love this adorable word)! This type of low-fuss afternoon affair is a great way to catch up and get a jump on some handmade holiday gifts. For extra cuteness, serve tea and cookies so you can sip and munch as you quilt, bead or glue-gun. Your guests can bring whatever project they are currently working on. If kids are in the mix and you’re willing to make a craft store run, a crafternoon could be an opportunity for the whole gang to learn a new craft together! Do some research online or at the library and find a how-to for a family-friendly craft such as one of these handmade gifts for charity.

Clothing swap A closet cleanout is a good way to clear out your home (and your mind) before the holidays (and make room for hiding wrapped presents). A clothing swap takes some of the drudgery out of decluttering, and bonus: You and your brood get to score some gently-used free duds in the process. (Also, your swap doesn’t have to be limited to clothes — books, DVDs, toys and kitchen gadgets are fair game!) Young people won’t be upset about giving up their old stuff once they find out they get to trade it for new presents! Seasoned swappers will tell you to provide snacks and refreshments. If space allows, you can designate different areas of the house for different types of items (an entire room dedicated to pants, for example). Before the fun starts, lay down some ground rules, such as no hoarding while going through other stuff. If two participants are eyeing the same item, flip a coin to determine who gets it (before a fight breaks out). Encourage everyone to take their time and relax while picking over what’s up for grabs (lest someone’s kids get trampled). Get a volunteer to help gather up and drop off leftover goods at a local charity.

Gift-basket making If you want to get into the giving spirit of the season a little early, a group gift-basket making party is the perfect way to do this. The purpose is to fill and decorate baskets that can then be donated to a local shelter, hospital or charitable organization. Kids can totally help out, and it’s a good opportunity to talk about the importance of helping others. Before you gather your basket items, call up your intended drop-off location and ask what they are in need of. Baskets for children can include small toys and kid-sized mittens, while adults might appreciate toiletries and warm socks. You could even make up baskets of pet treats and toys to take to your neighbourhood animal shelter! Lay out all of your basket “ingredients” and decorative elements, and assign each child an important item to put in each basket, assembly line-style, such as a pair of socks. Grown-ups can take on tasks like curling ribbon and attaching small cards. And even though your intentions may be serious, your basket-making session can be a total blast: listen to holiday music and sing carols as you stuff!

This article was originally published on Oct 01, 2011

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