I cannot write anything without saying that my deepest thoughts and sympathies are with all of those effected by the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. My heart keeps breaking. I know those precious babies and educators lost are angels up in heaven now. Peace be with everyone.
As mentioned before, every year since 2006 when I moved to D.C., I have always hosted a holiday party in some fashion.
My co-hosts may have been different – in 2006 when I lived with two roommates I convinced them how fun it would be to have a party in our apartment and then beginning in 2007 – when Tommy and I moved in together – we began hosting annual holiday parties. My brother lived with us in 2007 & 2008 so he joined in on the co-hosting Christmas spirit as well those years. It is a tradition that we, our friends, and family look forward to and one that I hope to keep continuing for many, many years to come.
The “theme” and format of the parties have changed a little over the years: we have done the traditional Saturday night parties beginning and 8pm and last until who- knows- when, we’ve done a wine and cheese party on a Saturday afternoon, and a girls only Christmas ornament gift exchange (because do boys really care about ornaments?) to name a few. The two things that always stay the same are a White Elephant Gift Exchange happens during the party and we have always had the parties in our home.
This year I thought it would be fun to do something a little different: we decided to have the party at a local restaurant. I thought it might be fun to get a change of venue and for guests to see one of the places in our “hood”. The food is also really good and the restaurant gets really decked out for the holidays. SCORE. So yesterday afternoon we had our 6th Annual Holiday Party at Lavagna, an Italian restaurant on Barracks Row or 8th Street.
The party prepping began with me baking the party favors for our guests.
As the guests began arriving, the bar began serving drinks (I had decided on a drink menu for the party earlier. A red and white wine, all beers , and three specially crafted holiday cocktails were served). Later on appetizers came out, a large charcuterie board with meats, cheeses, crackers, and fruits and an order of bruschetta.
We had the entire upstairs portion of the restaurant reserved for our party. These are the “before guests arrived” pictures.
Here is what the party looked like when guests were there. (I only managed to take about 5 photos in total of the entire party. Too busy chatting away and making sure people were having a good time!)
Then it was time for the White Elephant Gift Exchange!
How we do our White Elephant Gift Exchange:
- Everyone brings a wrapped gift totaling no more than $5.
- At the party people draw numbers and the number a person draws determines his/her turn for getting a present.
- At his/her turn, a person can either take a gift from the pile or steal a gift from someone who has already opened one. (Obviously the first person cannot steal a gift).
- We have a rule where a present can only be stolen three times. Once a present has been stolen three times, it can’t be stolen anymore.
- At the end of the game, every person that brought a gift, has a gift.
Tommy and I had a wonderful time at our party. We hope our guests did as well. We were very pleased with the quality of service and food at Lavagna. We and several guests decided to have dinner there after the party ended. The upstairs portion of the restaurant is a perfect space for hosting a party. So glad we decided to do it here!
Do you throw an annual holiday/Christmas party? If so, how long have you carried on the tradition?