The last two months of the year — with the rapid fire of military holiday parties — are the Mandatory Fun Olympics. You don’t need to look it up; it’s a legit thing, trust us. Thank goodness we’re able to ride the sugar high from our kids’ Halloween candy into Thanksgiving and the December ho-ho-holidays. Otherwise, we would require an I.V. of black coffee — to go, obviously, because we need to be in 12 places at once.
Ever reach a point around the second week in December when you’re like, “What am I even doing right now? All I want to do is wrap presents and watch Christmas Vacation in my festive pajamas — without a bra, thank you very much — and drink cocoa (read: wine) without having to make small talk about holiday plans and what that mystery flavor is in that potluck crockpot dish.”
This rant isn’t you. You freaking love the holidays; you’re just a victim of quantity over quality military holiday parties. If you’ve got a say in the holiday planning for your unit, it’s time to flip the switch. We love each other, but we don’t need to get together every weekend during the holidays — family time is sometimes fun too, just saying. We just need to get selective about what kinds of military holiday parties we host. And, if you’re the new kid on the block and you don’t have a say in your unit’s party planning, never fear — you just get to be selective in what you attend.
We’ve got two military holiday parties you need to adopt in your unit — consider it our gift to you. In the first one, everyone gets a gift and the dress code is jammies. And, the second one doesn’t even happen until after the holidays when your schedule is wide open.
Party One: Favorite Things Party
PJs and presents and gorging on cookies — “these are a few of my favorite things.” You’ve probably heard of the Favorite Things Party; you may have even attended one. But, when you attend one in December, you take it to the next level.
This military holiday party should be cozy and kid-free. Who in your unit has the biggest living room? See if she’s willing to host. Is your installation’s TLF of this decade? Rent a couple adjoining rooms. The dress code is pajamas, and, no, that is not negotiable.
Everyone should bring one of their favorite things, new and wrapped, within a previously determined price point. Don’t be the person who brings a $50 gift to a $10 party. Sure, it will be a hit, but you blow a hole in the party premise. Play by the rules. Here are a few of our favorite things:
- Cavallini & Co. paper — Their poster-sized, vintage decorative wrapping paper sheets look beautiful framed, and starting around $8, they’re the perfect way to fill your home with art on the cheap each and every time you move. Cavallini & Co. also offers desk and wall calendars, notebooks, tea towels, tote bags, and more.
- A book that you absolutely loved — Read something this year that really spoke to you? Reese Witherspoon’s Whiskey in a Teacup is a fun Southern cookbook and coffee table book in one, and the hardcover retails right at $20. With the right crowd, you might also find success with The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (for those of us who need to stop caring everything so darn much before we lose it), The Roads to Sata (for all our friends stationed in Japan), or The Art of Gathering (for the hostess in us all).
- A pair of fun, cozy socks
- An insulated wine tumbler — Keep that mulled wine warm in the winter and that sauvignon blanc chilled in the summer. Since most varieties come with a lid, for around $10, you’ll be able to invite your clumsy friend over again for a glass of cab.
- A bottle of your favorite wine
- Reusable wine shopping bag — Sensing a theme? You can’t go wrong with wine or any of its fabulous accessories. This bag holds six bottles, so — you know — you can get that 10 percent off for buying a six-pack.
- Something unique made by your favorite military spouse entrepreneur
In addition to the gift, everyone brings either an appetizer or dessert and a drink to share. Maybe you break it down by last name (A-L brings an app, M-Z brings a dessert) or by birthday month (January-June are the apps, and July-December are the desserts).
The party agenda looks like this:
- Watch Christmas movies
- Eat, drink, and be merry
- Dole out the gifts in a white-elephant style (draw numbers and select or steal gifts in that order)
Party Two: Post-Holiday Pass
We are nothing but grateful for every gift we receive, but — y’all — sometimes they just aren’t us. Other times, they’re so us that we already owned one. And then, of course, there are the Christmases right before a move year and everything must go! Wrap up something you need out of your house, or — if you really get into the gag gift — you can purchase something for this party. Whatever the case, wrap one thing (or a bag full of treasures), and bring it to this Post-Holiday Pass party.
The gift exchange here is, again, white-elephant style, but you’ll see the claws come out as people vie for the token good gift. Pro tip: The more outrageous the gift, the more fun the party — don’t hold back!
This will be — without fail — the hit of your Post-Holiday Pass party and will likely return to be regifted next year. The silicone skin is durable enough to stand up to years of picking and squeezing, and — when that little bottle of pus runs dry, you can order a new one to include with the regift next year (as a surprise perk, it makes for a great hand moisturizer for those dry winter hands).
And, we already hear your question, “Can I get the pus in fun colors, or maybe with some glitter in it?” Of course you can! Call it gross, but you know you’re dying to try it. And, if you’re on the fence, here’s the closer: A portion of all Pop It Pal sales are donated to charities that support kindness and the anti-bullying movement. Pop some pimples, put a little good back into the world, and be the hit of the party.
If you’re looking for something you already have lying around the house for your Post-Holiday Pass gift, we have suggestions for you too. Why not wrap up:
- That loud-ass toy or gigantic stuffed animal your favorite brother sent your kids for Christmas
- A puzzle you already completed (or never want to complete)
- Anything that one family member who just doesn’t get your taste gave you for Christmas
- The ugly sweater you wore to another holiday party
- Your husband’s XBox (hey, there’s no price cap on this party — a girl can dream)
- Coffee someone gave you that doesn’t fit your model of coffee maker (K-cups, ground, beans, etc.)
- A book you loved (or hated)
- A movie you don’t watch anymore
- Home decor stashed in your closet that you haven’t used since you moved in
- That mystery box you still haven’t unpacked yet (oh, the suspense)
- Stuff you’re trying to clean out of the pantry ahead of a PCS
- The most ridiculous thing from last year’s Post-Holiday Pass party
The whole point of this is to make it fun or to unload the crap in the back of your closet — bonus points if your gift ticks both boxes.
Photo Credits: Kristi Stolzenberg | Unsplash