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  • Writer's pictureMia Hable

'Tis the Season to Celebrate Ugly Sweaters!

It’s December, and that means that Christmas music has taken over the radio and it's time for the holiday party invites to start rolling in. Christmas is my favorite holiday; I love the decorations, the shopping, gift giving, smell of snow, party clothes and of course the idea that this is the time of year we collectively take time out of our busy schedules to catch up with friends and family. Work slows down (for those not in retail) and people gather for holiday parties. My sister and I host an annual Christmas party and this year we decided to switch it up to keep things fresh. We ditched the fancy dresses and signature cocktails in favor of a more relaxed and casual event.

We hosted an ugly sweater brunch and bar crawl. In the vein of keeping things casual and fun we opted for a daytime party; people came for brunch and then later in the day we traipsed out to some local bars for a pub-crawl. This enabled people to come for some of the party or all of it, depending on their schedules. This time of year there are so many nightly events (work parties and charitable activities that dominate the evening) we wanted to give people the option of still enjoying time with friends without having to decline because of other obligations.

For a brunch party we ditched the tiny appetizers and heavy bar in favor of some truly delicious breakfast treats that provided sustenance for a long day (of bar hopping). We made: a savory stuffed french toast, bacon, egg and cheese monkey bread, hash brown cups, fruit and my aunt’s pound cake in a gingerbread house mold (sorry no link for that one, it’s a family secret)! As a lovely surprise some friends decided to stop off and grab a box of Stan’s donuts; the generosity of friends is truly appreciated, as these are a rare treat! My sister has a talent for handwriting and so in an effort to display our food in an easy and rustic manner we covered the fold up table in butcher paper and she drew with maker around each plate, creating beautiful labels for the food directly onto our paper tablecloth. This was a fun and inexpensive way to set up our buffet table.

To compliment the brunch theme we scaled back on the beer and liqueur options, providing mimosas, bloody mary’s, and of course some Great Lakes Christmas Ale; after all I am from Cleveland! For those wanting something a little more festive, we set up a DIY hot chocolate bar; featuring Godiva hot cocoa; that we kept warm in the crockpot, stir sticks with marshmallows and peppermint, biscotti in an assortment of flavors for dipping and of course a little something extra (peppermint schnapps) for those wanting the adult version!

We invited friends and family to come dressed to impress in the ugliest, tackiest Christmas sweater they could find; and boy did no one disappoint! Some people went the extra mile and jazzed up their ugly sweaters with a little DIY effort. Puffy paint, battery pack lights and some truly outstanding jewelry really took the look to a whole new level. Ditching the heels and suits for turtlenecks and vests was the best decision we could have made. This holiday party was hands down the most comical event we have ever hosted.

I advocate shaking up your own holiday party plans this year. In a sea of fancy party’s that your guests will be invited to this December, stand out! Create a warm and friendly, casual atmosphere where your guests can really let their hair down and enjoy time with friends. Keep things a little more low key and flexible; our invitation was simple: come during the day for brunch, stay for the bar crawl, or join us out and about later in the day. Attempt to live in the moment and enjoy your own party, stop stressing about if there is enough food and actively try to participate in a "more the merrier" philosophy. When I extend an invitation for a casual get together, I say bring your roommate, that friend who is visiting from out of town or include that coworker that we ran into at the bar! After all this is the season of giving, so give yourself a break and your friends and loved ones a party that everyone will enjoy!

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