14 Out-of-the Box Holiday Party Ideas: SparkRecipes SlideShow

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14 Out-of-the Box Holiday Party Ideas

By Megan Patrick, Staff Writer

Cookie exchanges and caroling groups are fun, but why not get creative this holiday season? We brainstormed 14 unusual party ideas that run the gamut from totally family-friendly to adult-only. It's time to start a new tradition!

Christmas Cocktail Party

Don't save your cutest dress or suavest suit for New Year's Eve. Break it out early to host a fancy adults-only holiday cocktail party. Serve up your best homemade eggnog and let guests spike it to their liking with rum or coffee liqueur. For friends who don't imbibe, offer a refreshing pomegranate-ginger spritzer.

Adopt-a-Family Fete

Many churches and local nonprofit groups gather holiday wish lists from needy families. You and a group of friends can adopt a family and divide the list. Get together one afternoon for sweet holiday treats and wrapping. Designate one or more members of the group to deliver the wrapped presents back to the charity by the due date.

Christmas Costume Gala

Why wait for Halloween to roll around again to host a costume party? Christmas offers plenty of great dress-up ideas from Santa to Rudolph to adorable elves. Guests can get even more creative and come dressed as a candy cane or a snowman. Have a pile of reindeer antler headbands ready for anyone who can't manage to create their own look.

Christmas around the World

Get the kids in the neighborhood involved for this party idea. Assign every family who RSVPs a country to research and ask them to bring a traditional holiday treat, dish or drink to share with the group (think panettone from Italy, mulled red wine from Denmark and bche de Nol from France).

Holiday Movie Marathon

You can plan this low-key party to be family-friendly ("Home Alone" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer") or adults-only ("Christmas Vacation" and "Die Hard"). Make a huge bowl of popcorn and string the leftovers to make a garland for your tree!

Cookie Decorating Celebration

Cookie decorating gets tedious after the first dozen. Make the task more fun by inviting your closest friends over to join you. Everyone can bring their own cookies and one or two decorating supplies to share. You can provide some savory snacks so you don't have to overdo it on all that sugar!

Wrapping Reception

Wrapping presents isn't much fun all alone either, plus you end up with tons of leftover paper. This year, invite a group of friends over for a wrap party. Everyone can bring a couple of rolls of paper to share for more variety. A glass of sparkling wine or mug of hot apple cider will make the task that much more enjoyable!

Ugly Sweater Soiree

Instead of dressing in holiday finery, ask your guests to trot out their worst holiday sweaters with prizes for the most egregious. To make the party even more fun, have everyone bring a unisex gift worth $10 to $20 and have a "Yankee swap" where people can steal gifts from each other.

Handmade Ornament Afternoon

If you're the crafty type and have a lot of extra supplies taking up space, put them to good use by hosting a holiday ornament-making party. Print out instructions for specific projects for your less creative guests.

Online Shopping Spree

Online shopping for holiday gifts is efficient but not as much fun as hitting the mall with friends. Get the best of both words by inviting a small group over for some serious laptop time. You can even plan to have gifts delivered to one another's houses to keep curious family members from ruining your carefully planned holiday surprises.

Ice Skating Social

You don't have to be good at ice skating to have a great time sliding around on a slick surface, but a good sense of humor doesn't hurt. Bring the kids along for this winter adventure. Afterward, invite everyone back to your house for some homemade hot chocolate to warm up!

Book Exchange Bash

Give your favorite book from the year a second life by turning it into a gift. Invite all your book-loving friends over for the afternoon and ask them to bring a favorite (that they're ready to part with). Guests can take turns choosing and unwrapping a book to see what they get. A little behind-the-scenes trading should also be encouraged.

Cards for a Cause

Host a holiday-themed poker night where all the proceeds go to a charity that helps brighten the season for the less fortunate. (Guests can buy chips for a specified donation.) Offer the winner of the tournament a nice prize like a gift-card to a local restaurant. Don't forget to feed the crowd with your favorite finger foods!