Friday, November 30, 2018

Guest Post and Giveaway: Author Cindy Vincent

Cindy’s Christmas Party Tips

Post #3:

Okay . . . you’ve got the house decorated for Christmas (part 1 at Seasons of Humility) and you’ve got the food prepared, including your wonderfully decorated sugar cookies (part 2 at My Favorite Pastime).  The lights are dimmed, and the Christmas lights are all plugged in.  The place looks and smells festive.  At long last, your guests begin to arrive.  

Now what?

If you’re hosting a party where everyone knows each other or everyone is part of an already established group, you can probably just serve the drinks, point people to the food, and let nature take its course.  But if you’ve got people who have never met, or several “guests” or spouses who don’t know the rest of the group, it might be a good idea to provide a little more “structure” for your party.  After all, as a host or hostess, it’s your job to create an environment where your guests feel comfortable and have fun.  And without a little intervention, your guests might feel forced to spend the evening making small talk with a group of strangers.  For many people, this is right up there with having a root canal. 

That’s when you, as the hostess, step in and save the day.

How?  First, never underestimate the importance of name tags.  This takes away the stress of having to remember someone’s name all evening long, especially when you may have just been introduced to a whole bunch of other people.  You can provide those simple stick-on name tags, or you might even create some Christmassy name tags yourself. 

Then, as they say, it’s time to break the ice.  Below, you’ll find my favorite, simple game for doing just that.  It will require a little bit of work on your part in the days before the party starts.  But it’s well worth it.  Here’s what you do: 

1.  Ask for RSVPs and emails.

2.  Send out a mass email asking everyone to send you just a couple of interesting tidbits about themselves, something that most people might not know about them.  To give you a better idea, here’s a copy of the email that I sent out the last time I hosted this game at a party:

“Hello, everyone!  I’m in the process of writing up an entertaining little icebreaker game for my Christmas party.  But to do so, I need some information from everyone.  And by information, I mean that I need some cute, unique and little-known tidbits about each of you.  Things like, I was the queen of the Fall Festival at my high school.  Or, I won the Spelling Bee in the 5th grade, or I was on Jeopardy.  Or, I got rescued off a mountain in Wyoming by Harrison Ford in his helicopter.  You know, fun facts about you that very few people know about.  Please send me two items each.  And please remember, this is not your great moment to confess all.  Meaning, the information you give me will become known to the group, so please, don’t send me anything you don’t want someone else to know.  No “most embarrassing moments,” thank you. Then once you send your information, mum’s the word.  Don’t tell a soul what you sent.  Please send your info ASAP, to: (Insert your email address here).”

3.  Comprise your game.  List the items one-by-one, mixed up so that each person’s items are not listed together, and leave a blank at the end of each one.  You should come up with enough things to fill the front and back of one page.  Here’s a sample of a few items from a game I hosted at one of my recent parties.  (In fact, to create your own game, you can simply replace the items that I’ve written down with items that are provided by your own guests.): 

1.  Find someone who once ate 12 pizzas at one setting just to win a bet. __________
2.  Find someone who is a U.S. Patent Holder.  ___________
3.  Find someone who loves roller coasters and Elvis. ______________
4.  Find someone who was born outside the US. _________
5.  Find someone who kept their high school mascot, “Sam the Ram,” at their house. _______
6. Find someone who was the Valedictorian of their high school class.  __________
7. Find someone who saw the movie Patton with a French waiter who could not speak English. __________
And on and on.

4.   Once everyone has arrived, pass out your icebreaker game, along with pens or pencils.  Okay, yes, honestly, you will have a few people who moan and groan.  But don’t let them deter you!  Simply plaster a smile on your face and tell them to do it anyway!  Rules of the house.

Here’s the write-up that I always use at the top on the first page of my icebreaker:

“Find the answers to the following by asking the people around you if they happen to meet the criteria for each item below.  Then write that person's name in the blank for that particular item.  You need only find one person for each item, and you must actually ask the person the question, even if you already know someone who meets the criteria on certain items.  Also, you can only ask one person one question at a time, and if they don’t happen to meet the criteria of the question you asked them, you must move on to question another person, either with the same question or a different question. You do not need to ask the questions in order.  You can use your own name to fill in a blank if you fit the criteria.  The first person to complete the form will win a prize.  You may not work in teams or get your answers from anyone else’s sheet.  Have fun!”

Here’s the beauty of the game—everyone gets to talk to everyone else at the party.  And since you’re given a specific “task” as well as the exact questions to ask, even the shyest person can be made to feel comfortable.  The game is over when someone fills out the form with the right names.  (Yes, you should check it against an answer sheet that you’ve kept hidden in a drawer nearby.)  And of course, you as the hostess should then read through the entire list of items, announcing the person’s name at the end of each one.  It’s a chance to let your guests “shine” for a moment, thus making the party even more fun for them.  It’s also a good idea to award some kind of really goofy prize to the winner.  After that, you can let the conversation just flow, since you’ve already given everyone plenty of conversation starters!

Another good game to play is the White Elephant gift exchange.  Prior to the party, ask everyone to bring a Christmas ornament in the $12-$18 range.  And here are the instructions to play this fun, holiday favorite. 

Keep in mind, these games work well for small to mid-sized groups.  They’re probably not a good option if you’re hosting a gigantic party.  But either way, they’re a great way to get a party rolling, help people meet each other, and have a lot of fun.  I hope you get a chance to try out both of these.  Happy entertaining, and a very Merry Christmas to you!


As the top salesperson for Pfunn Party Supplies, Carol Frost doesn’t exactly know how to have fun herself these days. Though she wasn’t always such a humbug. Once upon a time, she was famous for hosting Christmas parties that were filled with everything from laughing guests and luscious hors d’oeuvres, to artfully iced sugar cookies and creatively decorated Christmas trees. To top it off, she even wrote a bestselling book that became the authoritative tome on Christmas party entertaining at the time—The Complete, Total, Ultimate, Everything-You-Might-Possibly-Want-to-Know Guide to Hosting the Best Christmas Parties Ever.

Yet that was long ago, before her life changed and she stashed her tinsel and twinkle lights away once and for all. And while Carol soon learned to settle for her boring but comfortable existence, an old friend knows that Carol isn’t really living up to her potential. An old friend who . . . well . . . now enjoys her eggnog in the afterlife, you might say. To goad Carol into going back to her former party-hosting ways, said friend sends three of her specter pals to pester Carol. Then, much to Carol’s annoyance, she is visited by the Ghost Hosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future on a plane filled with plenty of holiday revelers. And though Carol only wants to be left alone, the Ghost Hosts have other plans. Instead, they take her on an adventure that wasn’t exactly on her itinerary . . . or printed on her ticket stub. From that moment on, Carol’s life will never be the same. Provided, of course, she survives the jingle-bell rollercoaster of a ride and makes it home in time for Christmas . . .

About the Author

CINDY VINCENT, M.A. Ed., was born in Calgary, Alberta, and has lived all around the US and Canada. She is the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls. She is also the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Caper novels and the Daisy Diamond Detective series. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and an assortment of fantastic felines.

Website | Amazon | Goodreads


Put together your own best-ever Christmas party with this fun “party in a box” giveaway! Enter for a chance to win a package with the following prizes: a signed copy of Yes, Carol…It’s Christmas! by Cindy Vincent, two Betty Crocker sugar cookie mixes, two cookie cutters, a four-pack of sprinkles, a strand of Christmas lights, and two glass ornaments. Due to shipping costs and varying international laws, this giveaway is open to US residents (age 18 or older) only. Void where prohibited. Good luck!

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