6 holiday party themes that don’t require an ugly sweater

Is there anything worse than another ugly sweater party? The season is tough enough with all of the social obligations and credit card bills, but to add insult to injury, every year we are invited to at least three “ugly sweater” parties where everyone dons a Rudolph jumper, looks ridiculous and sings carols until we stumble home drunk on egg nog and humiliation.

Well no more. We need to put an end to this theme. So here are six holiday-themed parties that will shake things up and maybe get you out of that heinous ball of unflattering wool once and for all:

1. 12 days of Christmas

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Ditch that unattractive sweater and put on a milking maid costume. Or five golden rings. Or whatever twist on this theme makes sense for you. The playlist could be bird sounds (the sounds of four calling birds) and the menu a variety of delicious hen dishes. For this party, everyone can come dressed as their own interpretation of the theme. It also helps inform the creative menu (think milk and cookies, a pear tart, dishes made of hen and goose eggs). Costumes, desserts and drinks. What more could a party ask for?

2. Naughty and nice

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This one has the potential to feel a little risqué, which some people tend to enjoy. Decide which list you are on and dress accordingly. Lingerie. Red lipstick. Fishnet tights and a bustier. Hot, indeed. This can also inform the food with a variety of healthy — “nice” — fare mixed with more decadent or spicy — “naughty” — foods. Same goes for drinks. Think virgin cocktails for the nice people and delicious egg nog for those who didn’t quite make Santa’s good list this year but probably had a lot of fun anyway.

3. Peace on Earth

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Kill two birds with one stone by partying with friends and giving to charity at the same time. Every gift brought is donated. People are asked to bring canned goods for the food bank and foods that represent their own culture. This is especially fun if you have a diverse group where you can get a great cross section of foods. And the best part? You probably don’t have to do anything else charitable for the whole season. Unless you want to. Check and check.

4. Christmas in July… in December

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Christmas parties in July are a lot of fun. But what about a Christmas in July party in December? Think luau fare with tropical drinks, gingerbread men in Hawaiian shirts and fans blowing all around. What’s even more fun about this theme is it might bust you out of those winter doldrums that start to set in around the end of December when you realize the long, cold winter has only just begun.

5. Sugarplum fairy

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Think of a menu made entirely of desserts and guests dressed in tulle and rainbows. It’s the dance of the sugar plum fairy, but instead of sitting there and watching, you actually get to eat it. Decorations should be candy themed and you can even add in a make-your-own gingerbread cookie component.

6. Stockings party

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For this one, think socks. Lots of socks. Socks as gifts (bonus points: for a charity) and also for your party outfit. Wear your fuzziest, coziest, most holiday-themed socks. Encourage warmth and levity, think Santa’s beard, socks with toes, elves and reindeer with a jingle bell (or four). Activities may include stocking decorating, guess what’s in the stocking and a stocking Yankee Swap. People get sick of having to dress up, and a party with your closest friends and their fuzziest socks may just be the best party of the year.

No matter what theme you choose, make sure to have fun, make it your own, and provide lots and lots (and lots) of the nog — that’s the point, after all.

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This post was sponsored by Big Lots.

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