The greatest aspect of your holiday open house – its relaxed schedule – can also be its biggest detraction if you don’t find a way to focus the merriment. The key is coming up with ways to make every guest – no matter the arrival/departure time – feel as if he or she has been present for the peak of the party. Here are few ways:

Give Back

On your invitations, instruct guests to bring a toy to donate to a local organization that gathers gifts for less fortunate children. Have a table set up with wrapping paper, tape and ribbons. Whether they’re on the early side or they arrive later, guests will love watching a pile of gifts grow. Frame a hand-written note on the table that tells guests where the gifts will be donated, and remind them to leave part of the original package exposed so social workers can direct gifts to the right kids.

Get Creative

Set up a craft table with butcher paper and newsprint, scissors, hole punch and twine. Print out directions for cutting out giant snowflakes (see below)and have guests – young and old – hang them around your home. Place red and green markers along with metallic pens so guests can make their snowflakes unique with a message.

Go Green

Set up a craft table with newsprint, markers and holiday-themed stencils and rubber stamps. Kids can make their own wrapping paper. They’ll be proud to wrap homemade gifts in paper of their own creation – it’s environmentally friendly, and saves money, too.


The basics of the snowflake garland are what we all learned in grammar school: start with a paper square of any size and fold it in half twice to produce a smaller square. Then, folding from the corner that is formed only of folded edges, fold twice again diagonally, so that the corner formed only of folded edges is the tip, or base, of a cone-like shape. That tip or base will be the center of the snowflake when it’s unfolded.

From there, it’s a matter of making cuts in the edges of the “cone” – and, the more cuts you make, the more intricate and dazzling your snowflake will be.

It’s important to note that lighter-weight paper is best; newspaper works best of all to add personality to your snowflakes.

After you’ve cut out lots of snowflakes, choose the best to create a garland. Use a simple hole-punch, using simple reinforcers found at an office-supply store to support your lightweight paper.

Loop twine between your snowflakes, and hang!