We all know the holidays are magical and wondrous through the eyes of our children. This column would normally focus on a unique treat, craft or destination for kids with the holiday season in mind. However, this month we are taking a little turn and twisting toward the ones in charge of holiday magic and wonder: you!

Here are two party ideas that are quick and fun to pull together. They are flexible and can be tweaked and adjusted to reflect your style, and hopefully they will bring some extra joy and magic to your holiday season.


This party was created for all the tired elves out there who want to hang out with their friends but still have so much to do.

Friends are invited to please wear pajamas. No dressing up in holiday finery. No running to the drycleaners at the last minute. No ugly sweater contest. Come comfy and cozy. You will not be judged if you show up in yoga pants and your Uggs.

Guests are also invited to bring along a holiday chore they still have to finish. This is the one party that you can bring your Christmas cards to and we’ll all help each other stamp them; or bring your Santa presents and we’ll help each other wrap them; or bring your homemade jellies and we’ll twine and tag them. You get it. Doing elf stuff with other elves makes the workshop so much happier and let’s face it: We’re all a little tired.

Easy food and drinks also make this party perfect for tired elves. It’s totally acceptable to ask your guests to potluck it to this party. But it would also be nice to treat your tired elf friends to a few appetizers and a tiny dessert spread. The trick here is to keep it simple. While variety is the spice of life, limited choices makes decision making easier. Give a bruschetta bar with three or four toppings a try. How about presenting a meat and cheese board with fig jam and olives? A selection of different-flavored hummus with roasted vegetables and pita chips would be lovely, too. These options require a quick trip to the store and as much time to put together as chopping for a veggie tray but they seem more indulgent and will make your guests feel like they are worth the trouble…because they are!

Keep the drink choices simple as well. This is the party for the candy cane martini. Recipes are widely available, but flavored vodka, crushed candy cane rims and tiny candy canes for garnish are the simple secrets to a fantastic cocktail!

For dessert, visit a local bakery and pick up an assortment of mini confections or a larger cake or pie to share.


I am not an authority on favorite things parties, but I’ve been to one – which has been hosted by the same incredible woman for the last four years – and I love this party. I hosted a spin off last year and it was a great time.

At a favorite things party, you get together with friends and gift each other your favorite things.

Think carefully about your guest list. You want this party to be fun and filled with women who would enjoy not just the process of picking out their items to bring, but in receiving other’s favorite things too. This party shouldn’t be a burden to any of your guests. I ended up with about 12 women.

Each person brings five items (these items are the same) with a $5 limit per item. If you, for instance, absolutely love lip gloss, bring five lip glosses, individually wrapped. They can be any shade, but they will all be lip gloss. Another person may love a certain kind of tea. She will wrap five boxes of tea. They can all be identical or five different flavors. I wrapped Dunkin Donuts coffee gift cards with Red Velvet Munchkins (special just for the holidays) into Dunkin to-go cups. It was a fun and quick gift wrapping option. Don’t tell each other what you’ve brought; it keeps the suspense fun!

Now for the fun part! Everyone writes their name on five little scraps of paper and then place each paper in a hat or box. Then it’s present time. In another hat or box, the hostess places a piece of paper with a number per guest. The person who picks the No. 1 gets to start. She chooses a name from the names box. (Make sure it’s not her own name and that five different names are chosen – the same name shouldn’t be drawn twice.) The five people she pulls will raise their hand so that she can pass out her items. It’s fun to hear why it’s her favorite thing. We all get to watch and ooh and aah over what they received. Go around the room until everyone has passed out their things, and in turn everyone has five brand new favorite things they get to take home. 

For my spin off, I had my guests bring only three items with a $10 limit.