The breeze blew mischievously as Doug continued lighting the luminarias that lined the walk, the oil lanterns, and the dozens and dozens of tea lights. The house was ready for a party. And so was I.
Luminarias are prevalent in New Mexico where they light the way for travelers and carolers alike. Simply fold down a few inches of a paper lunch bag. Pour in three inches or so of sand and place a tea candle in the center.
An oil lamp makes a lovely welcome outdoors and adds whimsy to the lighting indoors. Remember, no overhead lighting allowed! Twinkly lights and tea candles work beautifully to create drama, softened features, and enchantment.
We haven’t thrown a Christmas party in four years. It was wonderful being able to send out invites to a Yuletide Gathering with a few friends. I chose to serve soups and had my guests bring either wine, bread, or dessert. Soups are easy to prepare in advance. They are always delicious and hard to mess up. Alongside, I served a platter of garlic bread for the Sherry Tomato Soup, corn chips and sour cream for the Three Chile Mole, and green olives for the Italian Lentil soup. Friends came bearing garlic and cheese breads, sausages in raspberry chipotle sauce, and lots of divine desserts.
Make sure you put out little cards stating what each thing is. The key is to free up as much time to mingle with guests and join in the festivities and you want your guests to feel at home.
Before guests arrived I put out a platter of my homemade manchego cheese and crackers with roasted orange-parmesan olives (almost all of these recipes are in my new cookbook, From Mama’s Kitchen With Love). I don’t wait too long after guests arrive to serve supper but something to snack on quells early dinner pangs and gives folks something to do.
Place all plates, silverware, and glassware out so that friends can help themselves. Use china. You can do dishes tomorrow.
The couches and the easy chairs are set up in a circle for ease of conversation and it was very easy to pull up other chairs so that everyone could take part in the games and laughter. I invited an eclectic group of people. A surgical tech, a Reiki master, the owner of a metaphysical shop, a veteran and her older three children who homestead and homeschool, my oldest, great friends-Rod Sr., Rodney, and my dear Pat. Everyone had things in common and the conversation stayed lively.
Start with an ice breaker. We name all of our animals after movies and so we named off our eight cats and dog to create a fun ice breaker where they had to name the movie.
From walking up the illuminated path, to having wine and hors d’oeuvres, to the ice breaker, than dinner, a ten dollar gift exchange, then the game. We played a fun game called “Catch Phrase” that required no boards or teams, just an electronic device that we passed around that gave us a word and we had to get the group to say it with clues. It created a lot of great laughter and fun.
The White Elephant game where people bring odd gifts and people trade and such just creates more items that folks don’t want and may end up in a landfill. Everyone brought a nice ten dollar gift, such as small oil burners, and salt lamps, crystals, books, and candles, and everyone was delighted with what they received.
Pour leftover soup into pint jars and send them home with friends!
New friends were made, great food was had, joy was spread, and I do believe that is the best party I have had. Such a beautiful way to celebrate the season of light.