December can be a joyful time of peace and celebration, but too often “getting through the holidays” seems like more of a burden than a blessing. The push to have it all go perfectly is an impossible dream that undermines the true spirit of the season. Yet entertaining friends and family and decorating our homes, however simply or elaborately we choose to do these things, is something most of us truly want to do.
Let your library be your guide to wonderful resources on decoration, party planning, and gifting, along with a selection of holiday movies to keep you and your guests entertained, whether you’re trimming the tree or sipping cider.
Ultimately, you decide how much time (or how little) you want to put into your celebrations. Let’s get started.
There’s no single right answer on the best way to entertain. You may want to host a house party, an elegant dinner for a few, a potluck, or simply a special night with a good friend. But if it’s more than two or three of you gathering, invitations are probably in order. They serve several purposes. They act as a heads-up to save the date. They usually hint at the kind of party it’s to be. And, you can use the invitation, particularly the online ones, to keep track of what’s going on. Need to send a message to your guests? You can do that. Want to have a sign-up for food to bring and share? You can do that, too.
Check out our Wonderful Invitations list for suggestions on writing (and crafting) the right invitation for your party. Not into paper and stamps or out of time for a post office run? You’ll also find links to some of the most useful free online invitation services that will get your invitations out in seconds.
But what sort of party –are- you having? What will you serve? Wine or tea and dessert? A full-course meal? Cocktails and nibbles? Once you have a rough idea of what you’re doing, consult one or more of our books on Planning a Winter Party for fresh ideas on food, beverages, and special themes and getting the whole thing organized and set for success. One of these volumes also addresses how to help your guests with sensory issues feel more comfortable in what can be an overwhelming atmosphere.
For many, the cooking that happens around the holidays, whether there’s a formal party or not, is the stuff that memories are made of. Over the years, favorite recipes develop, but there’s always room for a guest star on your menu. Whether you’re planning the same kind of feast your grandparents hosted, follow a radically different diet, or are on the lookout for something to suit a sophisticated palate, our Cooking Up a (Snow) Storm list has you covered, from side dishes to sweets. You’ll find cookies to swap and gift, vegan and gluten-free choices, and signature takes on the holidays from Williams-Sonoma, Bon Appetit, Southern Living, and, yes, the venerable Betty Crocker.
There is a kind of yin-yang principle to having your home ready for the holidays. Part of it is the décor, yes, and for creative, crafty types, that is certainly one of the most enjoyable aspects of the season. Will your home be a slew of small things happily crafted by big and small hands? Will you go with a totally natural look, which can be perfect for older houses or homes set back in the countryside? Or, is sophisticated shine your thing, the more modern, the better?
How about some reasonable mix of styles? We certainly have many books that will help you put together a particular holiday look and have chosen some of the most outstanding, along with a few fun websites, on our list, Decking the Halls.
So, what’s the yang? Well, you can have the loveliest decorations on display, but if your house isn’t at least somewhat clean, that’s going to spoil the effect. If you already have a system for housecleaning, well and good, but, if you’re new at this or could really do with some practical advice (Home Economics was a highly underrated course, wasn’t it?), our Clean Sweep list can help you handle everything from your last-minute, last-ditch cleaning efforts to really getting in touch with your inner cleaning maven.
Ready for a break from the cooking, cleaning, decorating, and crafting, or want to have something to divert guests at your get-together? We have gathered movies to watch that are appropriate for a range of audiences.
Holly-Jolly Movie Classics are those animated films loved by kids and their adults. Grab some hot cocoa, and get reacquainted with Rudolph, Frosty, and The Grinch, along with many others.
Fireside Classic Films feature live action and are as evergreen as a juniper tree. There's music (George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, Meet Me in St. Louis, Scrooge, and White Christmas) and mischief (A Christmas Story, Elf, Little Women), along with other beloved films from Hollywood's Golden Age.
And, don’t miss out on Christmas films from our new Kanopy streaming service. Although perhaps not as well-known as the “classic” movies, you’ll likely find a new favorite among these spirited productions.
Young ones love to give gifts as well as receive them, and some of the most meaningful ones to share are homemade. Of course, there’s the practical side to this as well. Crafting gifts is a wonderful activity that ties in beautifully with the holidays, encouraging kind habits while nurturing creativity. Check out our Crafty Gifts list for books to get your children started.
If your gift budget is tighter than Santa’s belt, consider giving the gift of gently loved books. Our Friends of the Library bookshops have many books in like-new condition for the book lovers on your list.
Rather hit the online sales than face big box stores and shopping malls? You’re not alone, and your online shopping through Amazon’s special program can help support your library this season and all year round at no additional cost to you.
Out and About: Plan a Winter Holiday Visit to Your Library
Of course, you want to get out of the house over winter break, but going anywhere commercial day after day can be an expensive proposition. Why not bring your family to the library? We have holiday fun scheduled at every branch. Check out our calendar of classes and events. We’ve got something for everyone, plus, even more books, music, and movies to keep your spirits bright all winter long.
- A Clean Sweep
- Cooking Up a (Snow) Storm
- Crafty Gifts
- Decking the Halls
- Fireside Classic Films
- Holly Jolly Movie Classics
- Planning a Winter Party
- Wonderful Invitations