One of my favorite ways to get in the holiday spirit is watching all those awesomely iconic and nostalgic holiday specials from childhood. Why not make it a party this year and host a low-key kickoff to the season with a Holiday Specials Screening Party?
Your Party Plan
Choose a date early in the season before holiday madness sets in, and plan for it to last about 3 hours. Tell guests the dress code is definitely “comfy clothes.”
Or to up the fun factor? Host it as a pajama party – mock or not.
No worries if the tree isn’t decorated yet–set up is a breeze. You want your guests to lounge, so pull out blankets, move the coffee table, layer cushions or beanbags on the floor. String some festive holiday lights, light some candles, and pick up holiday-themed paper plates and cups, and you’re good to go.
What to watch?
If you like, you can survey guests in advance for their must-see specials. You might pick obvious favorites, like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964), Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), and Frosty the Snowman (1969). Or check out some of these more unique classics:
- Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962) the 1st EVER animated holiday special was written and produced by Broadway’s biggest musical talent at the time. Casting “Mr Magoo” as Scrooge vs his bumbling self is pure genius. Don’t miss!
- Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970) His suit! His name! Chimneys! This story of how Santa came to be cleverly tells the backstory. Also features the best-named-villain–Burgermeister Meisterburger–who makes it illegal to play with toys.
- The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974) what happens when Santa quits because he’s sick…and also sick of disbelieving kids? Mrs. Claus and the elves Jingle and Jangle have to save Christmas. Includes an excellent vaudevillian performance by Heat Miser and Snow Miser who take sibling rivalry to a whole new level.
- Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas (1977) one of Jim Henson’s first TV specials before the Muppets tells the tale of a poor young otter and his widowed Ma. To buy each other Christmas gifts they enter an Idol-style talent competition…but look out for those Riverbottom Boys.
- Simpson’s Roasting on an Open Fire (1989) the first full-length and cult fav episode where Homer tries to save Christmas as a mall Santa but loses his earnings at the dog track.
All of these are available on DVD; many are available for streaming online. Be sure to test your tech setup pre-party so your selections will be ready to go.
On the Menu
Think finger food that’s easy to prepare and easy to eat while watching. I like to go kitschy with this one and do place and bake cookies, pigs in blankets, and pizza bagels or try my recipes for Mini Bacon Egg and Quiches or Super Sliders. And don’t forget the popcorn! You can microwave or indulge with a large popcorn bucket divided with different flavors.
You can also pair treats with the specials as you’re showing them: Pass around Santa, Frosty, or Rudolph cookies, Peanut’s brittle, Grinchy “Roast Beast” mini-subs, or a jelly roll “Woofle Berry Cake” during Mr. Magoo.
For beverages, try a drinks station (easy refills). Include water, sodas, maybe some eggnog, and definitely hot cocoa with marshmallows, whipped cream, or even whipped-cream flavored vodka if you’re so inclined. If it’s an adult event you can also seek out holiday versions of your favorite brews or mix up some spiced mulled wine. And bring out the single serve beverage maker and let your guests choose and make their own favorite coffees or teas, including special seasonal flavors.
Let the Fun Begin!
To be honest? All you really need to do is watch, nosh, and enjoy. But if you want to take it up a notch you can come up with fun show-based gags for guests to do. Upon arrival, have them pick out of a hat (and keep their gag a secret). They could “get up and dance with the twins” in Charlie Brown, wear Max antlers throughout the Grinch, stand up and sing along to Holly Jolly Christmas, or “Put One Foot in Front of the Other” during the song.
The key to this casual gathering? Let your friends inspire the fun…that’s always a way to make it a party!
What’s your favorite holiday special?