Every year, the festive season seems to come up on us without warning.
Summer ends, we blink, and, all of a sudden, it’s time for the gift-buying and party-hosting extravaganza that has now come to represent the holidays. And while we always greet the season with excitement and enthusiasm, there’s no denying it’s easy to feel a sense of festive fatigue. Instead of continuing to perpetuate the cycle of formulaic seasonal party-throwing (throwing on a sequined dress, hiring a caterer for canapés, and letting the “Christmas Jazz” Spotify station set the mood), we’ve come up with a few thoughtful and fun alternative ways to gather with friends and family this holiday season, that’ll leave you energized, not depleted.
The Clothing Exchange
The Situation: The wardrobe rental boom is upon us, vintage fashion sites and Instagram accounts are taking over the digital space, and nearly every contemporary fashion brand has tried to claim affiliation to the “sustainable fashion” movement. But, as we browse The RealReal and Tulerie for “new ” vintage pieces, we somehow collectively overlook one of the most accessible methods of sustainable shopping: our friends’ closets.
The Event: Why not host a clothing exchange? Invite all of your friends over and ask that they bring any pieces they were planning on purging from their closet. You’ll likely find lots of treasures, sometimes people are simply sick of wearing something that once felt special. Set a rule from the beginning that no one makes comments on any of the clothes, so as to avoid hurt feelings, and ensure the host commits to donating those clothes that don’t get snapped up to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Housing Works. The bonus: you might even find something to wear for your next traditional holiday cocktail party.
The Accoutrements: Take the “vintage” theme to the next level, by curating a playlist of your favorite retro tracks, and serve this seasonal, and therefore, sustainable, squash toast alongside hot toddies made from this fabulous zero-proof whiskey.
The Workout Party
The Situation: The holiday season is stressful. Beyond being the year’s busiest time, it tends to be when workout routines go by the wayside, in favor of the all-to-familiar “I’ll start going to the gym in January” mindset.
The Event: Why not feed two birds with one scone and combine holiday socializing with exercise? Invite your friends to all chip in for a private yoga instructor (there’s generally someone no matter where you live, just make sure they’re Yoga Alliance-certified) to come over to one of your homes and teach an hour long class in the late afternoon on a Sunday, ideally with a long, restful savasana or meditation at the end. If you can’t find an instructor, simply commit to doing a class from a streaming platform like SkyTing together.
The Accoutrements: Sip on Kin’s warming, adaptogenic elixir afterwards so you’re set up for a restful sleep and ready to tackle whatever the next holiday week brings with clarity and calm.
The Volunteer Day
The Situation: While the holidays are a time of abundance, joy, and gift-giving for many, for others, they’re stressful—serving to highlight what they don’t have instead of what they do. While there’s no bad time to reach out to those living under less fortunate circumstances, the holidays are a great time to band together a group of friends and work to make a meaningful difference in someone’s season.
The Event: There are so many opportunities for volunteering, no matter what city you’re in. During the holidays, especially if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, where the weather is colder, the most pressing needs are food and clothing. So, gather a group of friends to deliver Meals on Wheels, volunteer at your local homeless shelter, or volunteer to sort clothing donations together. Head to VolunteerMatch.org to find an opportunity specific to your area.
The Accoutrements: You’ll likely feel so good from your day, you’ll be inclined to see what more you can do to help. An easy option is to sponsor a child or family for the holidays, to ensure they have gifts under their tree.
The Cookie Party
The Situation: You love the holiday season, but the idea of organizing a party, let alone preparing food or organizing catering for one, is too much for you to face.
The Event: Take some pressure off of yourself by hosting a cookie party. Everyone invited brings cookies that they’ve baked (or ‘ordered from scratch,’ as some of our less culinarily-inclined friends like to say). Host the party on a Sunday afternoon so no one is expecting a full meal but keep finger sandwiches on hand for those without a significant sweet tooth.
The Accoutrements: Is there a better winter combination than cookies and hot chocolate? Whether you want to keep things classic or spiked, Jacques Torres is the master of the mix.
The Christmukkah Party
The Situation: Interfaith relationships, friendships, and living situations are increasingly common these days. Yet, the Christmukkah celebration remains all too rare, relegated to the confines of television classic The O.C. And while Seth Cohen likely always will do Christmukkah best, if you’re one half of a Jewish/Christian partnership, do not hesitate to host a party that celebrates both cultures.
The Event: Host a brunch centered around Jewish food: latkes are an absolute essential, as is smoked salmon. Russ & Daughters’ New York Nostalgia plate is the perfect centerpiece, and a babka and rugelach combo from Breads Bakery rounds out the spread for those with a sweet tooth.
The Accoutrement: Play a medley of Christmas tunes and Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights soundtrack to keep the music appropriately thematic. Bonus points for a display that features a mini-tree and menorah next to each other, a menorah with red and green candles, or a tree with blue and silver (Hanukkah colors) ornaments.
If you’re inspired by any of these alternative holiday party ideas, tag your soirees on social media using #casadesuna.