It was an idea born out of not wanting to add something else to the schedule, but instead carving time out for friends and family. A simple idea where we imagined kids in their pajamas, sipping hot cocoa, munching on popcorn and truffles while watching a Christmas movie.
Striving hard not to busy myself with preparations for the party which would undoubtedly add stress, I started with a simple theme that included items I already had around the house.
With our home already gussied up in traditional decor, (and the fact that I had just been gifted a box of candy canes) I decided on a simple Peppermint Candy Cane theme. Once a basic theme is chosen, it gives a framework for deciding activities and food.
I have clear glass cylinders that I use throughout the year, and filled some with red bulbs and heritage ornaments that didn’t make it on the tree. Others were filled with traditional peppermint sticks and candy canes and tinsel. I used these as a backdrop to the food that really was the star of the show.
With the movie being the main event, I wanted to make sure that snuggling by the tree became a magical moment. I borrowed pillows from friends and covered them in white and red pillow cases to reflect the peppermint theme. I threw in handmade family quilts that the kids could keep warm under.
There is something incredibly fun when you serve a fancy treat such as Truffles to a bunch of kids in their pajamas, I love the contrast it creates between fancy and relaxed…so we combined the two!
We didn’t want the kids stuffed with sugar, so we went for a more natural treat bar including Honey based fudge, Grain and sugar free Spritz cookies, and Nut and date balls drizzled with homemade chocolate and topped with Pistachios or peppermint. Since we were going to have hot chocolate later, we simply served water to drink at the beginning of the party. One of our guests, Inga, told us that we could write on the jars with sharpie and it would come off with nail polish remover. What a simple, easy way for each kid to keep track of their glasses!
For the movie we made a trio of specialty popcorn: traditional sea salt popcorn, bacon smoked salt buttered popcorn, and chocolate drizzled popcorn with crushed peppermint. A homemade hot chocolate made sure to keep all the kids warm.
The adults feasted on specialty cheese and crackers, pumpkin biscotti and one of the guests brought the most amazing spinach and artichoke dip. Simple easy party food that only require a few spare moments to prepare.
We had the kids sit in a circle and share their favorite thing about Christmas time. It was fun to hear all their answers about the wonder they have for this holiday. Finishing up circle time, we read “Twas the night before Christmas”. With 12 excited kids running around a small house, it was nice to have a moment of sitting and listening.
We also had the kids make a special ornament to take home as a gift for their parents. I had found a host of empty glass bulbs and thought this would be a great simple activity that wouldn’t take a lot of time or money. So we shredded old magazines for color paper, pulled out old fabric, cut some greenery from our garlands, grabbed some cotton balls and found some old beads. There was now a selection of different textures and sizes and visuals to make interesting ornaments.
In honor of our first Gatherkids event, I wanted each child to go home with a special token. I found fun Christmas mugs at a thrift store on discount day, so they were super cheap and reused. I whipped up a Hot cocoa mix, added some marshmallows and a Candy cane and filled the mug. Before they left, each child could pick the mug they wanted and is now their special mug for years to come. A mug to be brought out at Christmas time to remind them of time with friends under the lights of a Christmas tree, snuggled in their jammies and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas.
And when the popcorn has been eaten and thrown all over the floor, the pretty dishes now just scattered with crumbs, the wine bottle almost empty, and the kids bundled up and on their way home, no matter how wonderful or pretty the party was, a kitchen that hosted a party will always look like this…
That’s where good Christmas music and another cup of coffee come in handy. And friends who don’t leave you to clean the mess yourself. So thankful for all the friends who stayed to watch the Holiday excitement take hold of the kids and put and pack away all the party magic.
The evening was exactly what it was created to be. It didn’t feel like a chore. It was wrapped in light and comfort and friends. It was filled with good food, laughter and song. Christmas was celebrated, and enjoyed.
May you find ways to slow down and enjoy the life you have this Christmas with the people you love.
Gatherhaus is the enchanting reality of bringing these rare and beautiful pieces together.
People, places, art, and food that inspire us and make us chase after dreams
of deep, rich community and fulfillment.