I like parties with a purpose. I think they are more fun, more effective, and involve less stress for everyone involved. Sometimes people get nervous to show up at a party–and giving them something to do with their hands gives them something to focus on other than being awkward. :)
One great idea, and we did this at our church in North Carolina annually, is to host an Advent Wreath Making Party. You can have each participant pay $10 (or you can subsidize it to bring down their costs or totally fund it yourself). This would pay for a straw wreath form, wreath pins, 4 Advent candles, and pine branches. The wreath supplies can be purchased from a local craft store–or online in bulk depending on the size of your party. The pine branches can be secured from a local Christmas tree farm or lot. The farm or lot normally will save the scraps from when they trim the trees if you ask in advance.
Then, depending on how many people you have attending your party (it would be equally fun with 4 or 40!), set up tables with plastic tablecloths (you’ll want these to be disposable–the sap is SO sticky!). Pile the branches on to the table, have a couple bowls of wreath pins (buy more than you think you’ll need!!) and set a wreath form at each seat. I’ve found it’s easier to make the wreaths while standing–so chairs are really unnecessary.
You can do a short talk about Advent if you want, just send them home with something to read, or skip the explanation all together–it depends on how “plan-y” you like to be.
It would also be helpful to demonstrate how to make the wreath…people can get pretty stressed out about it. It starts out looking super awkward and like it’s not going to end up pretty…but if you keep going, magically it looks AMAZING! Remind them of this often, a good hostess is super encouraging!
This is a good resource (it’s a .pdf) to read, from Clemson– Making Wreaths
You can add the candles to light and read about Advent each Sunday–or you can simply hang the wreath on your door without candles. Make sure to spray your wreath occasionally to keep it damp and supple throughout the Christmas season.
A Fun Way to Serve
Have everyone make an extra wreath and take them to a retirement home for the residents to enjoy. Or, take them to a women’s shelter to help make their temporary home more festive for the holidays. Christmas can be a really sad and trying time for a lot of people–especially those without active family nearby. Adding cheer to anyone’s holiday is a really sweet thing to do. And, if you can do the creating with your friends, it makes it sweet for you, too!