Friday, December 2, 2011

Let's Party!



by Topher Clark (bio)

Image via Flickr.

When I was a teenager I was invited to be the youth representative on my ward activities committee. Kind of a big deal, right? I took my responsibilities very seriously. I attended monthly meetings where we talked about various picnics and different ways of playing horseshoes. One year we got all serious about the ward Christmas party. This really nice lady, Sally Todd, was in charge of the committee. She asked if anyone had a good suggestion for a party theme. Nobody responded, so I suggested something which I thought was very innovative and meaningful: An Old Fashioned Christmas. Nobody else had an idea for a theme, so Sally Todd, who was very nice - she could have rolled her eyes or thrown up or something - declared that An Old Fashioned Christmas would be our theme.

I'm sure when I gave that suggestion I had some specific notions about how An Old Fashioned Christmas should go, but at that age I didn't really have the wherewithal to make that happen. I was visualizing something very Currier & Ives. Like, for instance, all of the ward members would show up in horse-drawn carriages. That kind of thing. We would all get excited over dumb stuff like oranges and butter like they do on Little Women. I thought it might really help us remember the traditions of the past; things like bells on bob tails and Miss Fanny Bright. Little did I know that our Christmas party would turn out to be the same ward Christmas party we'd had for fifty years, and the same ward Christmas party we have today. Where there are about 25 giant fold-out tables covered in rolls of paper, a lot of plastic utensils, kids causing havoc on the stage, a hastily arranged Nativity scene, and the mutual kids doing a bell choir.

I'm not being critical. With the recent dissolution of the ward activities committee, I understand that times are tough. We have to have a Christmas party, but nobody wants to plan it. So I'm here to help. But not help like plan your party. More like help by giving helpful feedback and suggestions. First the feedback.

1. You really need to make this party fun for my kids. I don't want to hold toddlers on my lap while someone sings "O Holy Night." They don't want to be held. They want Santa Claus, and you promised.

2. Maybe next year let's not have a CD player with a microphone in front of it and A Very Yanni Christmas at full volume.

3. Why not try TWO different parties? One for old people, where you listen to "O Holy Night" and talk about the war, and one that is only fifteen minutes long for the rest of us (INCLUDING the Santa visit.) (And scrap the Nativity, it's always a big mess.)

4. Maybe one year we should just skip the Christmas party. We could all do service instead, or stay at home and appreciate service, like good TV service.

5. What about having the party at a nearby homeless shelter, or better yet: a nearby movie theatre!

Here are some ward Christmas party theme suggestions:

A New-Fashioned Christmas: Everybody comes and talks about their awesome new ipads and all the old people are given the wrong night to come.

A Smoky Mountain Christmas: We eat a lot of hard-tack candy and little smokies. Someone acts out "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" while we laugh and laugh! Then we make quilts and chop down trees. Everyone goes by "Brother" and "Sister." Hey...wait....that sounds like every year!

A Very Clique-y Christmas: This is where several parties are happening throughout the ward boundaries, but you only go to the parties with the people that you totally hang out with at church.

A Christmas of Mystery: It's a mystery, because you may or may not show up ... guess who?

A Christmas for Pets: Everyone brings their pets and they run around the cultural hall and fight. Then they act out a Nativity. (Barnyard animals ONLY.)

Ok, well, I can't solve all of the world's problems, but I think these ideas could really help you with your ward party! Good luck, and happy planning. Also, don't make the bishop be Santa Claus because the kids can totally tell.

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