A Holiday Open House

This year, invite the neighbors in for some holiday cheer.

By FamilyTime


Your house is decorated to the nines, the tree is trimmed, and the presents are wrapped. Why not open your front door and invite neighbors and friends to celebrate the season?

Everyone feels the need to congregate and reaffirm a sense of community, particularly when times are a little uncertain. A casual neighborhood party is just the ticket.

Keep It Informal
The rest of the year, you may only smile and wave to your neighbors. Their kids may climb on the school bus with yours but otherwise you rarely see them. Or, on the other hand, you and your neighbors may be in and out of each other's houses constantly.

Either way, they will welcome an invitation to a party, especially one that includes the children.

Multi-generational parties during the holidays are lots of fun. Kids race through house, inventing their own games and grabbing handfuls of cookies, while their parents and grandparents happily chat and indulge in the buffet.

This sort of party does not require a lot of expensive food or French Champagne. A simple buffet with finger food, dips, salads, cookies, wine, soft drinks, and fruit punch fits the bill.

Prepare the House
Your holiday decorations are in place and the house looks as festive and pretty as ever. But don't stop there.

Move the furniture to open up space and create sensible traffic patterns. This might mean pushing the dining table against the wall, or positioning it so that everyone can congregate around it.

Tie the chandelier up if you move the table from under it, so that no one bangs against it.

Move dining chairs away from the table. Push the living room and family room furniture closer to the walls to leave room for mingling and circulating.

Plan where you want guests to leave coats, boots, and umbrellas. A bedroom is convenient, but some hostesses erect a coat rack in a large vestibule or on an enclosed porch.

Clean the bathrooms and make sure they are well supplied with hand towels, soap, and tissues.

Check that outdoor lighting is in good working order. If there is snow on the ground, shovel walkways, porch steps, and the driveway.

Prepare the Kitchen
Whether you're preparing the food yourself or having the party catered, a near-empty refrigerator and clutter-free work spaces are vital.

Take inventory of your platters, serving plates, and bowls. Count the cutlery; inspect your table linens, and make sure you have enough glasses and plates.

Because this is a casual family party, consider using festive paper plates, napkins, and cups.

Make sure you have enough ice. If the weather cooperates, chill wine, beer, and soft drinks on a back porch or deck.

Relax and Enjoy the Fun
This sort of neighborhood party is supposed to be fun -- even relaxing. No one expects it to be picture perfect or terribly elegant.

After all, your guests see you taking out the trash and pulling weeds; they'll welcome this opportunity to celebrate the good times and share in the season.