When I was younger, there was nothing more exciting to me than Christmas Day. It was something that I looked forward to as soon as school started. But now, the day has lost much of its luster, and I’m just happy to be done with exams and have some time off from school.

Paul Wong
Jeff Phillips

Of course, there is one thing that I looked forward to during the holiday season in college: The Christmas party. Fit snugly between the end of the semester and the exam period, a party before the holiday break can cure the depressing I-didn’t-go-to-class-and-now-I’m-goosed blues.

If you have never thrown a Christmas party or just looking for improvement, here is some helpful advice to guide you over the next two weeks.

Alcoholic Secret Santa: It works a lot like any other Secret Santa, except with more alcohol – and with exams staring everyone in the face, it will be a welcome depressant. Tell everyone coming to go to Campus Corner or your local neighborhood liquor store and get a gift set. You will be surprised by how partygoers go wild for a plastic mock-martini glass.

If you are hosting a Christmas party, you should require this. It gets everybody into the Christmas spirits (pun intended) of giving and sharing. Plus, not only is most of the cost alleviated, but also everyone at your place will be having fun before they know it. If you are a scavenger, there will be plenty of leftovers along with enough crappy glasses to last you the rest of the semester.

But if you would rather pay for everything yourself, you might want to look into champagne and eggnog. The inclusion of bubbly is obvious. Not everyone is a fan of the nog, but it is just because they haven’t tried it yet. The best way to go is to make it yourself – avoid the premade stuff at all costs. A good nog is a fresh nog.

A great Christmas playlist: This is perhaps the most critical element. A carefully crafted playlist is essential to any party, but especially a theme party. Nobody goes to a beach party to hear Ja Rule or Metallica. No! They want to hear “Kokomo” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” Or maybe even “Sloop John B.” The same thing goes for Christmas parties.

Nothing gets the holidays in swing like the music. Most of the best stuff was made decades ago and this should be the meat of selections. This means that you should include Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas,” Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock,” and some Bing Crosby. Don’t be afraid to include some childhood favorites like “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” and “The Chipmunk Song.” If there is something that everyone loves, it’s nostalgia.

In conjunction with the Alcoholic Secret Santa, Dean Martin’s “Let It Snow” and Frank Sinatra’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” fit well with the cocktails. There will definitely be people telling you to play Nelly, but don’t listen to them. Stick to your guns and you will be pleasantly surprised by the response to Mannheim Steamroller’s “Deck the Halls.”

For offbeat songs, I recommend Beck’s “Little Drum Machine Boy” and Harry Connick Jr.’s “(It Must Have Been Ol’) Santa Claus.”

Mistletoe: Mistletoe alert! In at least one doorway, you must have mistletoe, if for no other reason than the awkwardness that it creates between people early in the night. But at the end of the night, the real fun begins as awkwardness is not as funny as too much comfort under the mistletoe.

A word of warning: You will need to do an occasional freak sweep to make sure that the randoms are not just sitting in the doorway all night. You don’t want anyone getting scared. It’s just bad business.

Santa hats: Like any theme party, dressing up can a clincher. Santa hats are a bit less tacky than reindeer antlers, but the antlers do have some fun Grinch potential. Another thing to consider is convincing your jolliest of friends to dress up as Santa Claus.

These suggestions will give you a good start to holiday fun. You will need to make sure that your house is fully decorated in cheap lights, because you will be lucky if the strands make it through the night.

Good luck and happy holidays!

– Jeff Phillips can be reached at jpphilli@umich.edu.

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