Loveys, it's already December 8th. Doesn't this month seem to fly by? One week down, only a little more than three to go. Last night I had my annual ornament-exchange party. Success! This was my fifth year doing it, and I just enjoy it so much every time. The month gets so crazy that I'm happy to get one night just chatting with girlfriends over food and wine (in my case, sparkling cranberry juice).
Let me tell you what we did in case you're looking for party ideas. Before I forgot, I tried to snap a few pictures. I don't have any pictures of the first two years I hosted this kind of party. Tragic! I want to remember these fun times and who came. I had an empty portrait frame for the girls and I to use for pictures. So we started with chatting and eating, and I had everyone fill out MadLib pages. Then we took pictures.
The past couple of years, we've shared traditions and stories during the ornament exchange. There was some of that last night too, which is always fun and wonderful. But we started with sharing some of the history of the traditions of Christmas. I searched the Internet for the history of things like Christmas trees, stockings, gingerbread, poinsettias, the novel A Christmas Carol, the songs O Holy Night and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the movie It's a Wonderful Life. Then I printed off what I found and placed one page each in a Christmas card. We went around the room and each girl opened her card and read the story of the tradition to us. I love this type of thing because it involves all of us. Mingling and catching up or getting to know someone new is fun. But I love for there to be some point in the evening where we all engage together. After the "history of Christmas," we did our ornament exchange. Then we read the MadLibs that the girls had filled out earlier. MadLibs are always funny and fun.
To me, the best part of the evening is just having a houseful of friends. You guys know I'm six months pregnant at the moment. So I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself. I ordered a platter of sandwiches from the grocery store and picked up some pasta salad. I did make peanut-butter balls and cheesecake squares because those are easy, and besides, Christmas baking is so fun! (Jeff was thrilled that I made peanut-butter balls.) Friends brought bottles of wine. I threw together a veggie tray and put some lil smokies in the crockpot and voila! You've got a party. I love hosting these parties because we're carving out a little time during this busy season to make memories together. It was a warm and cheery night in the Bruce house!
The Jeffster helped me so much to prepare for this party. Last night, after the girls left, he came down (had some leftovers!) and then helped me clean up. I told him how grateful I was for all he did for me, and he told me that he's really glad I do things like host these parties. That touched my heart because it reminded me that he appreciates those things that make up who I am, that he loves me for who I am. And being loved just as we are is such a gift.
So last night was special to me. I love that Alyssa's ornament is now hanging on my tree (and Tracy's is on there from years past). I loved hearing about Nancy's extra-special Christmases and Jodi's favorite things about Christmas (and gasping when I heard that Myseesha is not a fan of Christmas music!). I loved giggling with everyone and sharing pregnancy stories (and grocery-shopping stories!). I loved hearing about Tara's father-in-law's special eggnog. The glow of the fireplace and the twinkle of Christmas lights and wine glasses all around--it's just a little Christmas magic with friends, loveys.