Three days later, I think I've finally recovered from our Christmas party this past weekend! It was a lot of fun, but with 20 kids ages 5 and under (and their parents), it was also pretty chaotic. Luckily all our friends (at least those who attended) are all in this same crazy small-children stage of life, so everyone was happy to just go with the flow.
The one thing every cocktail party needs? Cocktails!
I always like to include a drink menu because I've found people often don't know what to order. The most popular drink of the night was definitely the Pear-Appletini.
The festivities started with a surprise visit from Santa.
Most of the kids were thrilled (as were the adults!)
The kids stayed busy doing crafts and watching such classics as Frosty the Snowman, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, & Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
The adults had plenty to keep themselves entertained as well.
The Christmas Card Toss was a big hit with the guys.
(Yep, those are two little boys drinking juice on my brand new comforter. Amazingly enough, there were very few casualties for the evening.)
My big splurge was a hiring a bartender to pour the cocktails for the evening. Michelle runs the local bartender school and she was amazing. She showed up early, set everything up, cleaned up her area afterwards, and took pretty much all the stress out of the party for me, making it the best splurge of my life. However, I saved in so many other areas that my overall expense for the party was still well under $300, including the liquor.
Here are some ways in which I saved on party expenses:
-I sent out Evites rather than mail invitations. Evites.com is free and makes it very easy to manage your guest list and see exactly who will be attending. It also automatically sends out party reminders so your guests don't forget!
-Santa popped in for FREE. I guess it's one of the benefits of living in a community full of retirees. A few months ago we ran into a nice man at the Golden Corral who looked just like Santa Claus. He gave Princess a card that said "I've checked my list twice and you've been nice." It had a picture of him dressed as Santa, and on the back was his contact info. Curious, I phoned him to find out what he would charge to make an appearance and lo and behold, he does it for free. His schedule was pretty packed but he was super sweet to squeeze us in, and the kids were absolutely thrilled. What a treat.
-I asked my guests to bring an appetizer or dessert to share. I still made a few things, like homemade cheese balls, a veggie tray, and red velvet cupcakes, but most of the food was a group effort. Everything was delicious and I spent almost nothing.
-I made my own peppermint bark party favors.
-I made "gift basket" prizes out of items procured through my couponing adventures. There was a children's cold & flu basket, an adult cold & flu basket, & a "spa" basket with assorted toiletries. The games included a holiday icebreaker bingo game, a Christmas card toss, & a raffle drawing.
I made my own candy cane flower arrangement rather than splurge on fresh flowers.
-Most of the liquor for the party is still leftover from our wedding. Prior to the party, I went through my supply and came up with a drink menu that didn't require a lot of new flavors. Most of the mixers were juices and soda I already had on hand in my stockpile. I used lemons from our own lemon tree and oranges from a friend's orange grove (it is Florida, after all) as fruit for the Sangria and as garnishes for the cocktails.
Finally, a HUGE thank-you to my dear friend Serrin Boys for taking all the party pictures. You rock!
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