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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Have a Holiday Open House

Dec 07, 2011 12:00AM

by Leslie Garisto Pfaff

When it comes to entertaining, the holidays are open season, as in open hearts, open gifts, and, open houses. The holiday open house--a laid-back party at which guests of all ages come and go as they please over the course of an evening or an afternoon--is the perfect way to bring folks together with a minimum of fuss. Here are some ideas to get you in the spirit.

Sign-In Tree

A neat way to get your guests started. Create a tree shape and star topper from colorful construction paper or poster board; mount it on a wall or door with double-sided tape. On the star, include instructions for your guests ("Please sign in!"), and set baskets of colored-dot stickers and markers nearby. To give everyone the idea, have family members provide the first signatures.

Personalized Punch Cups

Look-alike plastic cups have a way of losing themselves in a crowd. To save guests the bother of cup hunting (and avoid waste into the bargain), add large starburst stickers to each cup, along with smaller stars or other stickers for decoration. Next to an assortment of markers, set up a placard directing guests to sign and retain the cup of their choice.

Ice-Cream Cone Trees

What better way to keep kids feeling jolly than to encourage them to play with their food —which is the whole point of our Snack-tivity Station. To help your guests create these festive Ice-Cream-Cone Trees, stock the station with paper plates, sugar cones, sugar cookies (your own or store-bought), store-bought icing (one batch of white, one batch tinted with green food coloring), shredded coconut, sprinkles, lollipops, and a selection of bite-size candies. To make a tree, spread a cone with green icing; spoon a dollop of white icing onto a sugar cookie, then gently push the cone into the icing. Top the icing with shredded coconut snow. Decorate the tree with sprinkles and candy ornaments, and crown with a lollipop star (nibble a hole in the cone for the stem). Provide flat-bottomed brown bags so kids can take home their trees (or tree pieces!).

Beads and Bells for Fun

Try this to keep the kids busy while parents mingle and relax. Take one plastic-covered card table, add a good-natured teen (well-compensated, of course), and throw in a healthy supply of colored beads, jingle bells, and pipe cleaners in a variety of colors and textures. That's our recipe for a foolproof kids' craft station — and for some great-looking wrist and ankle bracelets your young guests will love to make and wear.