How to Plan The Perfect Holiday Party for Home or Work

The winter holidays are a festive season and the holiday party is a popular way to celebrate with family, friends and co-workers. While everyone enjoys showing up at holiday parties, planning and hosting one is a big responsibility. Because a holiday party is a once a year event, everyone expects it to be relaxing and fun. So, how do you ensure your holiday party meets those expectations? Follow the tips and suggestions in this guide to make your holiday party a memorable one.

Make a Budget

Before you do anything, crunch the numbers and come up with a budget for your holiday party. This helps you stay within a certain monetary range as you make spending choices. Also, a solid budget can help you save money by considering the cost of items on your party list before you spend a dime. Keep in mind that spending lavishly doesn’t equate to a successful party. Spending wisely and making good choices is the way to approach your budget for this event.

Create a Guest List and Send Invites Early

Start your party planning in earnest by putting together a guest list. This list includes names and contact information. Email is faster, but it’s important to make sure the subject line mentions holiday party, so people open it. Or, you can stick with the classic mailed party invitation pairing a paper invitation with a matching envelope. Asking invitees to RSVP can help you figure out attendance numbers well in advance. Avoid conflicts by sending invites out two to four weeks ahead of the party date.

Choose a Date and Time

Setting a party date requires some thoughtful consideration of the busy season. Fridays are the most popular date for workplace holiday parties, and this makes sense because employees can relax, knowing there’s no work the next day. Alternative days are Wednesdays and Thursdays. Start times tend to be around 2 p.m. or 3 p.m., but parties can start earlier or later, depending on the workplace. Weekends are ideal for parties hosted at someone’s home. Home parties can begin in the afternoon or early evening. Ideally, the day and time should work for most people on the guest list.

Choose a Suitable Space or Venue

Once you’ve settled on a date and time, and you have a rough idea of the number of attendees, go ahead and secure an event space. This is easy if you plan on hosting the party in your home. You already know if you can use your living room, dining room, garage or other space for your party. However, if the party is for work or an organization, you can choose to host it on-site or at an outside venue. Either way, do whatever is necessary to reserve your desired space as quickly as possible. Remember, others are also planning parties, and spaces get booked rather quickly.

If you plan to use an event venue or restaurant as your party space, consider booking the space more than a month in advance. Also, have backup spaces in mind, just in case your first choice is unavailable. The last thing you want is to have to settle for a less than desirable location because there’s no other good choices.

Delegate Tasks

There’s no rule that says one person must do everything related to throwing a holiday party. In fact, this may be too stressful for just one person. Instead, divvy up responsibilities among two, three or more people to make planning go quicker and smoother. This can be something like person A takes care of securing a location and getting decorations. Person B does food and entertainment, while person C oversees party set up and cleaning tasks.

Make a Food Plan

There are two ways to go when it comes to food for parties. You can be formal or casual. Formal settings usually involve a sit-down dinner with dining tables adorned with classy tablecloths, dishes, utensils and holiday centerpieces. Casual affairs feature buffet style food choices, which lean heavily on easy-to-handle foods and snacks. Whether you desire a formal or casual setting, you can go one step further by deciding how food is presented.

Build your own food bar. This popular trend involves setting up tables (food bars) featuring foods that align with a certain culinary theme. Guests are given numerous choices and they can build their plates by selecting whatever foods they wish, just like a buffet. Food bar ideas include fruit or vegetable salads, desserts such as donuts, cookies or cheesecake, nachos, hot dogs and sandwiches.

Classic catering. Hire a local caterer to provide food for the party. Contact various caterers and ask about their holiday menus. Some caterers may also offer food bar options.

Pot luck. Send party invitees a list of food items and ask them to volunteer to bring items on the list. Require them to tell whoever’s in charge of food planning what they intend to bring, so planners can ensure there’s enough food variety.

Leftovers. Food costs money, and one way to ensure it doesn’t go to waste is to supply guests with Chinese take-out boxes for leftovers.

Holiday Party Decor

It’s not a holiday party without festive decorations. Envision how you want the space to look and find decorations that help you create an uplifting atmosphere. This may include indoor and/or outdoor decorations.

Decorative lighting. LED lighting brightens any room or outdoor home or building. You can hang strings of twinkling lights near the ceiling or install holiday character lights outdoors as a fun way to greet guests.

Creative displays. Create festive displays using holiday table top characters or use life-size Santas, elves, gifts and candy canes to wow guests. Large displays are great for group pictures and selfies.

Build Your Own Life Size Christmas Wonderland

The magic of Christmas really comes alive when you turn your ideas for a holiday wonderland into reality. With a bit of ingenuity and access to life-size, jumbo and giant holiday décor pieces and sets, you can create a holiday masterpiece that causes people to stop and gaze upon your holiday display with delight and wonder. To help spark your creative imagination, here are some ideas for creating your own larger than life displays.

Inspiring Nativity Scene

Nativity scenes are common during the holiday season, and if you’re seeking to create an authentic nativity display, consider making one that stands out in a special way. Go big with a well-constructed manger made from real wood as your backdrop. Kick things up a notch with a gleaming Star of Bethlehem to remind viewers how those wise men found their way to the manger. After selecting the backdrop pieces, choose your desired life size biblical characters to fill out the scene. The three main characters are baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and you can also find life-size renditions of the wise men, angels, shepherds, the drummer boy and barn animals such as donkeys, sheep, cows and camels.

Arrange these character pieces anyway you wish. For added realism, scatter some decorative bale straw around the interior of the manger piece. If the nativity display is outdoors, lighting them with outdoor spot lights ensures everyone strolling by can easily see this endearing biblical scene.

Showcase Santa and Helpers

Santa Clause is a larger than life figure in many holiday stories, so why not make him a big focal point for your wonderland display? Santa Clause Village is a popular theme for life-size displays, and it’s sure to grab the attention of kids and adults who get a kick out of seeing a realistic Santa figure.

There are various ways to showcase jolly ol’ Santa. He can stand upright with hands on hips, or he may wear an amused look on his face while holding a bag of toys. You can choose a Santa who cheerily waves to everyone who comes to your location. Or, you can choose a sitting Santa who is ready to steer his reindeer to houses all over the world. Of course, Santa always has his helper elves nearby, and you can find adorable elf figures that work hard to make the holidays a happy time. Santa also needs his sleigh and trusty flying reindeer to help him deliver his gifts to far away homes. The neat thing is that Santa is instantly recognizable, which makes him a winning subject for any holiday wonderland theme.

Quaint Vintage Storytelling Scenes

Another idea is to recreate a quaint Victorian era village filled with old-fashioned charm. Movies about Scrooge, the grumpy man who hated Christmas until he discovered he loved it, can provide inspiration for showcase displays. For instance, you can build your scene around a group of vintage Christmas caroler statues singing near a lamp post. From there, you can add other characters such as merry snowmen wearing colorful hats and scarves. Further enhance your village with Christmas tree and light displays, and perhaps, a beautiful angel who graces the village with her angelic presence.

Impressive Candy and Gifts

Your vision for wonderland may take a whimsical turn, using fun life-size statues that appeal to kids and adults. While various treats are associated with the holidays, candy canes are iconic and instantly recognized as a Christmas treat tradition. How about posting two giant candy canes at the entrance to wonderland? These red and white cane-shaped statues look good enough to eat.

Along with candy canes, you can find large-size gift boxes wrapped neatly with bows, and these can be placed near a Christmas tree, elves or Santa himself. Gift box decorations come in single pieces and sets, allowing you to mix and match different colors and sizes.

Nutcracker King and Soldiers

Many people enjoy watching the story of the Nutcracker come to life during the holidays. Imagine the looks your display will get when onlookers spot a life-size Nutcracker King and Nutcracker soldiers (or toy soldiers) under his command. Their sharp uniforms are reminiscent of those seen in ballet and movie productions of this timeless fantasy tale. These classic figures fit nicely in numerous wonderland themes, including Victorian and upbeat themes featuring candy, gifts and toys.

Have Fun with Lights

So much can be done with decorative Christmas lights these days, and there are several ways to use them to enhance your wonderland theme. Because anything goes, you can use one or several lighted displays featuring white, warm white or colorful LED lights.

Santa. Make Santa Clause visible at night with lighted Santa Clause display sets. This may be a single image of a jolly Santa holding his bag of toys or a lighted display that shows Santa and his reindeer heading into the night to make their annual deliveries.

Stars. Lighted stars are often associated with large nativity displays, and a brilliant Star of Bethlehem helps re-create the wonder of the original Christmas story. Stars also make wonderful visual accents for traditional Christmas tree wonderland themes.

Trains. There’s something mesmerizing about trains and adding a fun lighted train to your display captivates the young and young at heart.

Signs. Give everyone viewing your wonderland display a positive seasonal message that is visible day and night with a lighted sign. Lighted signs are easy to see from the sidewalk or road, helping you spread warm wishes 24 hours a day.

Include Animals for Added Realism and Whimsy

Make your North Pole wonderland something uniquely special with the addition of life-size display animals. Animals that are associated with wintry climates include penguins, grey and white husky dogs, Nordic reindeer and polar bears. These animals add realism to any holiday scene you wish to bring to life. Alternatively, whimsical animal decorations can be charmingly fun when used with lighthearted themes.

Forget Russian-born Tchaikovsky – It’s the Germans who brought us the Nutcracker

When we think of a nutcracker, we think of the ballet. It’s hard to picture anything but little Clara proudly holding her odd, wooden, colorful “doll.” The whole world is fascinated with the figure, but where did it all start? It definitely didn’t start with Christmas Eve, it didn’t start with a gift for a young girl, and it certainly didn’t start with a French ballet corps in the late 19th century.

Back in the 1500s the Erzgebirge region of Germany was known for its mining. Silver, tin and cobalt were produced – until the mines ran dry. Faced with a crisis of income, the Germans turned to their next big resource: trees. Before long this small pocket of Europe was famous for its handmade wooden crafts. There was a flood of exports: whimsical items like ornaments and cuckoo clocks…and, of course, nutcrackers.

True to Their Name

The original nutcrackers were just that – objects made, literally, to crack nuts. They were simple plier-like tools fashioned in the shapes of birds and animals. But as craftsmanship skills grew, so did the complexity of the figures. Suddenly the Germans were creating detailed nutcrackers resembling kings, policemen and soldiers. These likenesses are what we see in the nutcracker figures today.

Over time, nutcrackers went from an after-thought to a must-have. A standard European dessert table is full of “sweetmeats” – hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts. It wasn’t enough to have a single nutcracker on hand. If you were keeping up with the Joneses, you had to have an array of the figures – both functional and decorative.

The Big Boost

Alright, let’s be fair here. German craftsmen can’t take all the credit…and it’s not just about the nuts. Nutcrackers would still be a specialty item if Tchaikovsky hadn’t adapted an 1816 E.T.A. Hoffman Christmas story (The Nutcracker and the Mouse King) into a ballet. Shockingly, the ballet wasn’t a big hit when it was first performed in 1892. It took a couple of world wars and a slew of American G.I.s carting nutcrackers home to the U.S. for the whole phenomenon to take off.

The ballet, the music and the iconic wooden figure became an American cottage industry by the mid 1900s.

Don’t Let The Face Fool You

If the nutcracker is so outrageously popular, why does it look so dour? Can’t it crack a smile?

Not really. The nutcracker is a protector. Its teeth are bared to “crack the nut” and, according to folklore, to ward off evil spirits.

Legend has it that the figure – whether 6 inches or 6 feet, even 12 feet tall – is the equivalent of trusty watch dog.

This inanimate “watch dog” has had the same look and the same job for centuries… with no end in sight.

Don’t mess with perfection.

SCOTT WHIPPLE: A SAINT WHO PAINTS

 

Baptism by fire

Historic St. Anne’s Church in Waterbury, CT. suffered two fires in the 1970s. Gorgeous stained glass windows were lost. Smoke damage was extensive. Spectacular, colorful life-sized statues were beyond recognition.

The devastation continued when the church learned that insurance money would cover only a fraction of the costs. Enter Scott Whipple: local artist, painter, builder, restorer and philanthropist.

“I was overwhelmed… intimidated,” he said, at the thought of restoring any of St. Anne’s life-sized statues. Scott had never worked on anything so large.

But he jumped right in, starting with a smaller statue of St. Francis of Assisi and working his way up. Baptism by fire.

Everyone – clergy and parishioners – loved his work so he kept on going.

His favorite part about the process? Giving people back their cherished memories of church, one statue at a time. Despite his immense talent, Scott remains humble. “I’m still learning all the tricks of restoration. I’m learning as I go.”

 

“Nothing I could fix”

Fast-forward a few years and a few miles to his current project: The Blessed Sacrament Parish, also in Waterbury, CT.

His focus: the church’s Christmas scene.

“I had heard that nativity set that they set up every year was really tiny with mismatched pieces,” he says. He knew he couldn’t fix the figures with his own two hands it so he took a different route with his generosity.

Scott chipped in for a brand new nativity scene. After researching online he chose the 11-piece, 27-inch Joseph Studio set from ChristmasNight Inc. The collection was more than a pleasant surprise. He described its arrival “as one of those rare instances when you take something out of the box and say, ‘It’s even better than the photograph!'”

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He then bought lumber and began building a manger. With a handyman’s skill he set up interior lighting. Wanting the beautiful display to be eye-level, he restored an old altar table from St. Anne’s so the figures could sit on the table itself rather than on the floor.

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The idea is that people won’t simply look at the scene of the birth of Christ, but rather step right into it. The viewers will actually stand under the stable’s roof.

“You become part of it,” Scott says.

Hard to think of a better way of celebrating Christmas than by becoming part of it.

 

Lights, Camel, Action!

See photos of Scott’s work below…

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AFTER CUSTOMER SERVICE

Like many companies selling directly to consumers, we offer easily accessible and useable product information, shipping information and pricing combined with timely email notifications at each step. Our company rule is to treat the customer the way we would like to be treated.

Occasionally, we have problems with parts of our system which frustrate customers as they would frustrate anybody and we do our best to solve the problem while keeping in mind what the customer really wants, which is not excuses, but a sincere apology, an explanation of the problem and assurance that the problem has been resolved.

We thought that the email dialogue below, apart from making us feel like we are doing something right, would nicely summarize our approach

Email from Customer;

Comments: Hi. I would like to know why my order is “on hold”? What does that mean? I ordered the nativity pieces with the understanding they would be shipped within 1 business day. It took me over a week to get the shipping calculator to operate correctly, so I could order the items. It kept saying “retrieving quotes”. I quit trying after a hour of waiting for it to retrieve a quote after each time. I finally had success with it on Monday. Thank you.

 

Our Reply:
Our apologies for our poor communication, both for not replying to your email and for the difficulties you had with the shipping prices and then the HOLD. The later is an internal designation which says your order has been tagged for immediate shipping. It’s not something we intended for you to see. The late reply and shipping problems were mail server and software problems which have been corrected.

We hope your order arrived in good time and in good condition.

Thank you for shopping at Christmas Night.

And the Customer’s reaction;
Thanks so much for your reply. My items did arrive in a timely fashion and in good condition. Last year I bought the Holy Family pieces from another website but I found your website last spring and enjoy the fact that it is a website where complete nativity collections are sold, as a set and as individual pieces.

I just wanted to make you aware of the issues I was having with your website. I figured it was probably a website server issue, since I tried on 3 computers and my smartphone over a week.

Joseph's Studio Christmas Nativity 40 inch scale 13 piece

The pieces are beautiful and it was worth the initial frustration.

I plan to order other pieces for the Joseph Studios 40-inch nativity. Next year I plan to order the angel and shepherd, which requires special shipping quotes, so I am sure we will be in contact with one another again. I then will order the 3 wise men and camel the following year.

Thanks again for your apologies and explanations. Excellent customer service.

Regards

Customer service doesn’t finish when the product is delivered!

 

Christmas in Texas

The night sky in southwest Texas is…Big.

You can see the constellations.

You can see shooting stars out your bedroom window.

Come Thanksgiving, another bright light will Illuminate the landscape.

Carolyn and Cliff Tuttle, owners of Hashknife Ranch near Fredericksburg, TX, have built an authentic, life-sized nativity barn.

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Imagine driving down a dark road in December and noticing flood lights in the distance. As you continue, figures take shape and you realize you are approaching a stunning recreation of the birth of Jesus Christ

“There’s not much light out here on a dark winter’s night,” says Carolyn. “It will be quite spectacular.”

The three-sided barn is up and ready. What began as mere sketches and measurements a few months ago gelled into a plan. With the help of good friends, Mike and Nancy Craddock, the Tuttles began building.

Cedar wood from dismantled corrals and fences was hauled in for the barn’s siding. A bobcat was fired up to clear dirt, rocks and native vegetation and make way for a cement floor. A tin roof was recycled from an old barn. And finally a trench was dug to run electrical wire to power the flood lights and star

The only thing missing? The nativity figures.

“We started looking around on the internet.” Carolyn noted. “We couldn’t find anything that struck us, until we got to ChristmasNight,Inc.”

The Tuttles purchased a full manger scene in alabaster and they couldn’t be happier.

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When opening the boxes, “we oohed and aahed at everything,” says Carolyn.

They are amazed at the details: The fingernails on the wise men, the curls on the sheep, the textured fabric draped on the camel’s back, the expression on the angel’s face. Everything is life-like. Even the lanterns are impressive: each one hangs separately and gives added dimension to the scene.

“We couldn’t have been any more pleased,” she says. “I would recommend it without a doubt. It would enrich anybody’s store, home or church.”

The Tuttles have repacked the figures and are storing them until November. They are eager for the holiday season.

“We are blessed to live here,” Carolyn adds. “The most important idea we wanted to convey was to glorify God and to honor Him.”

Photos with the complete nativity scene will be shown after Thanksgiving. Stay tuned!

An Exciting New Supplier

holiday-nativity-set-led-display-13pcWhat do Universal Studios, Radio City Music Hall, Sak’s Fifth Avenue and the Indianapolis Zoo have in common with Christmas Night? They all feature large outdoor Holiday Displays made by GP Designs of Marion Indiana. Our Christmas Night customers, whether they be homeowners looking for an eye catching outdoor Santa/Sleigh or a church wanting to show the real meaning of the Christmas season with a large outdoor Nativity ,will now have access to the best quality and most attractive holiday light displays available, offering longer life and lower maintenance.

Offering commercial product design and quality for the consumer, GP Designs maintains total control of all it’s products and services in-house, in it’s highly efficient facility centrally located in Marion IN. From initial  design and manufacturing, through powder coating, decorating, lighting and final shipment, GP Designs is always  in control and customer oriented.

Just as important to Christmas Night and our customers is that GP Designs is owned and operated by nice people. The Loer family, Dave the President and CEO, Sandra the VP Administration, their son KC, Sales Rep and Social Media Coordinator and Rick Dillon  the Vice President Operations, all really care about family values and treating their customers the way they would like themselves  to be treated

Christmas Night is now offering, on our website, a range of Nativity and Christmas display figures from GP Designs. Please visit us and see for yourself.

 

OUR CREATIVE PROCESS

We design and build special crates with solid floors for Christmas Night's four legged animals
We design and build special crates with solid floors for Christmas Night’s four legged animals
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Finished Toy Soldiers line up ready to board the boat for USA
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Working on model for Giant Giraffe
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King Gaspar waiting outside the factory
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Alain and Robert finishing models for Christmas Night’s 6 foot Giant nativity Set
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Making last minute changes to the paint colors before photography of the new 6 foot Nativity Set

From time to time we will share with you the process that we use to create our new and, in many cases, unique, decorative and religious figures. They all start in the mind , eyes and hands of Claire our very talented designer. The resulting images and dimensions are communicated to our factories electronically as is progress on each project. We also visit the factories at least twice a year to tweak and approve the designs. We also constantly work on improving our packaging so the product is delivered to you in perfect condition.

We have some pictures which will illustrate some example. Please note, we will not be offering the giraffe statue.

OUR PANAMA CHRISTMAS – YEAR TWO

For our Christmas vacation 2012 we decided to visit Panama. We had heard many favorable stories of beautiful beaches, accessible jungle adventures, friendly people, a sophisticated capital city and they use the US dollar. We also rationalized that it would be a great opportunity to see the Panama Canal, where all our Asian container ships pass through on their way to deliver our Christmas Nativities and displays to our New York warehouse.

Well we went to Panama and enjoyed it so much that we returned this year for Christmas 2013. In addition to all the the things we found and enjoyed in 2012, we found the Panamanians, particularly in the countryside, celebrated Christmas as the birth of Christ. Nativities and Church services were more important than gift giving.

We have some wonderful pictures of the Panamanian version of the the true meaning of Christmas. We enjoyed this old fashioned Christmas and we hope you do as well.

NEW @ CHRISTMAS NIGHT FOR 2014

Thanks to our wonderful customers, both new and returning, we had a successful 2013 season. Many of our website visitors already know this, as they have found their product choices sold out. We are working on re-stocking and expect to have most items in inventory between March 1 and May 15. A few items will not arrive until mid July.

In the meantime, we are offering our “Pay Later” Layaway purchase plan, as explained on our website and a pre-order option which protects the customer from possible price increases in product and shipping costs, with payment in advance. A pre-order customer is guaranteed not to be disappointed by finding an item sold out for the season as early as November 1.

We are improving our packaging by providing more external protection and cushioning against occasional rough handling by the courier and trucking companies. We will also be offering more  truck shipping options including priority, guaranteed day and time and “white glove” special handling which include inside delivery, product set up and removal of pallet and shipping material. For ground and courier shipments we will be offering more  products with flat rate and free shipping.

In 2014, we are introducing a number of new and redesigned products. There will be new dog statues, animals and saints for our Saint Francis Garden site and new Soldier/Nutcracker and Santa figures and redesigned Nativity figures for Christmas Night site. We will publish more details and photos of these as they come out of our factories

We are improving the speed and functionality of our websites and shopping baskets and creating sites that are equally at home on smart phones, tablets,  PC’s and Mac’s.

We will continue to update these posts, particularly as we are able to announce and display our new and redesigned products.