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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!! An annual anniversary honoring the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas is observed on December 25. It is a joyous and festive time observed by not just Christians, but several non-Christians around the world. Make sure to get your invitations out to your family and friends, if you are planning to host a party, early enough so you can prepare accordingly. A cute idea would be to take a family portrait by a professional photographer and use them as your invites.
The holiday is filled with a variety of activities. Decorations include anything from candles, bells, candy canes, fake snow, and stockings to Christmas trees, reindeers, wreaths, ornaments, lights and angels. Festivals, fairs, theatrical events, and of course house parties are occurring all over the world. Horse and carriage rides are popular around this time, especially on the East Coast. Christmas music is particularly prevalent, displayed by DJs, radio stations, and individuals nationwide, from “Here comes Santa Claus” to “Silver Bells.” Christmas carolers and caroling is traditional to those who take part in celebrating this joyful time.
Christmas feast, what is more pleasurable than that? Traditionally families like to cook their own Christmas feast; however, there are many places that are willing to cater a Christmas dinner. Hiring, or putting on, a Santa Claus costume character to perform the duties of Saint Nick is fun for the kids. Hire a photographer to take photos of the party or event throughout the evening; or an alternative could be to rent a photo booth for the night. Another fun idea is to theme it up; make it an ugly sweater party, or costume party where everyone dresses up as elves, reindeer and snowmen, Santa Claus or Mrs. Claus. The person or persons with the best ugly sweater or costume will win a gift basket of holiday goodies.
Lasting for 8 days and nights, Hanukkah starts on December 24 at sundown, and rejoices in the achievement of both religious and military Jewish heroes. You will need to get a nine-branched candelabrum, often called a Menorah, to light each candle over the next eight days. This is a holiday ritual.
Celebrants usually partake in singing songs and playing games. Play ‘spin the dreidel’ and see who ends up with the most candy. Not nearly as many songs as Christmas has, Hanukkah still holds a variety of melodies to sing; so break out the karaoke and sing something like “I Have a Little Dreidel.” Or you could set up a DJ booth and have someone MC the affair, while everyone enjoys dancing on the dance floor.
Make little party favor baggies filled with miniature inscribed tops, candy, and goodies. Traditional foods include latkes, matzoh, gefilte fish, hamentaschen, and flanken; and can be catered or made from scratch to host a large feast. For the adults, making a gift basket can be a nice gesture; fill it with Hanukkah candles, Jewish cook books, and the best cooking oil. Each day, of the eight days, a small gift is given to the children; such as slinkies or chocolate gold coins. To teach the children about charity and giving, it is habitual to give gelt to them so they can donate some of it.
The African tradition of celebrating its “first” fruits occurs from December 26 to January 1st and lasts 7 days; Kwanzaa meaning “First.” This tradition is celebrated by decorating with the colors of Kwanzaa; red, black, and green. Other materials used to decorate are African flags, souvenirs, and crafts, as well as, fabrics to create chair sashes, napkins, pillows, table runners, and table covers. A prominent symbol that represents Kwanzaa is the Unity cup. Family will drink from this cup to honor the fight and commitment that was begun by the ancestors; so incorporating this symbol into the décor can be beneficial to the festivity.
Hang multi-colored lighting to give the venue, whether it is a banquet hall, a meeting room, or the comfort of your own home, some life. Incorporate traditional African music by playing your own music hooked up to a sound system or hiring a DJ or an MC, so that your guests can enjoy the cultural dances on the dance floor. Centerpieces made from fruits, dried flowers, and nuts are typically utilized. Be sure to present the Kinara, or seven candle candelabra, that will hold the candles that represent all seven principles of Kwanzaa.
Have a catering company create a mouth-watering feast; traditional Kwanzaa foods include anything from collard greens and oxtails to black eyed peas and curried goat. As party favors, the gifts should be educational, simple, cultural and possibly home-made. Maybe create a small gift basket filled with delicious Kwanzaa cookies with green black and red icing. Party cakes are usually made of fruit; most commonly are the pineapple upside down cake and the fruit cake.
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