Eleven years ago, Shannon and Ben (my sister and brother-in-law) hosted their first Christmas Eve party as newlyweds. The point of the party was to include both sides of their family and a few close friends. They chose to go with Mexican food for the standard party fare. We packed out their little home, ate, played games, had a white elephant gift exchange, and promised to come again next year.
The next year, Shan decided that Italian food sounded awfully tempting. We had lasagna and the works. We stuffed ourselves and had a jolly time. We begged her to invite us again.
Chinese food seemed like the logical progression. This time Shannon and Ben were in the mood to go all out. She sent out Chinese-themed invitations, decorated the tables with skeleton leaves and chopsticks tied with placecards, and served an incredible meal. Serving a sit-down dinner for 25 people in a small duplex is no small feat, but they moved their living room furniture into the garage and made it work.
Once they had seemingly exhausted the expected food themes, Shannon and I sat down for a brain-storm session. We discovered that there were endless possibilities....
Year #4: we arrived ready for camping. Sodas were served from bright red coolers filled with ice. Ben BBQ'd the burgers. Tables were covered with red and white checked table cloths. The favored white elephant gift was a snake-bite kit with rubber snake.
I was hugely pregnant the year we came for a Hawaiian feast featuring pulled pork, umbrella drinks, and Jimmy Buffet Christmas songs blaring. Many of the guest arrived in Hawaiian shirts and Shannon and Ben adorned everyone with leis. Tables were decorated with natural grass skirts. We are talking first class, here!
Apparently everyone was in the mood to dress up the following December. Shannon created amazing invitations, or I should say boarding passes, for a 1940's Paris Dinner Train Murder Mystery. Costumes were incredible. Russ looked handsome as a gangster. Dinner was fabulous. The decor was natural for Shannon--black and white images of Paris, silvery embellishments, old leather suitcases, gorgeous table settings... It was a soiree for the record-book!
Then on to a 40-50s diner. For the first time, we partied earlier in the month rather than on Christmas Eve. Shannon was a rollerskating waitress in a poodle skirt. We sat on red diner chairs at diner tables decorated with old records and black & white photos of James Dean. We drank IBC root beer from the bottle, ate burgers and fries in baskets with black & white checked paper, and played a rousing game of Bingo. Everyone came in appropriate costumes. Russ, Levi, and I arrived in a '46 Ford. Smashing.
Are you getting tired of this narrative? I'm not done yet, but feel free to click away when your eyes get blurry. Hello? Anyone there?...
It was going to be difficult to top the past two or three years, but Shannon and Ben decided to attempt it with a 'Christmas Carol' celebration. We had the Ghost of Christmas Past, Marley, Tiny Tim, Mrs. Cratchit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and more. The table groaned under the weight of an English dinner. Shannon topped it off with a flaming plum pudding.
Year #9: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Only those lucky enough to receive a golden ticket hidden in a hand-delivered candy bar were invited (amazingly the same group of family and friends...). Shannon and Ben made an elaborate 'Rube Goldberg' style candy dispenser in their front room. They removed most of the furniture in their guest room and used a large puppet theater (which they built) to fashion a candy store stocked with an eye-popping assortment of candy. Each door in their hallway sported a striped awning reminiscent of an old-fashioned soda shop. A huge table sported a chocolate fountain and everything a person might want to dip in the chocolate. Do you think we missed that party? Not on your life!
Last year Shannon and Ben did an incredible thing. They decided on a Roy Rogers, 'do a neighborly thing,' work party at our new place. We had just purchased the property and felt daunted by the task of getting everything ready to move in, especially with three little boys (including a very fussy baby) during the Christmas season. They cleaned out the large shop on our property, set up tables, decorated, brought in a huge 'cowboy' meal, and put Roy Rogers on a big screen television for the kids. Everyone stuffed themselves then got to work. How nice was that?! Annie Oakley (aka my sister, Holly) was painting my new bathroom!
This Christmas we are heading to a Moroccan party. You won't want to miss the description and photographs. Stay tuned...
Want to see more pictures of a 'Shannon party'?