One of the highlights of the holidays for me is an ornament swap that began over 10 years ago.
Crista Burson began the swap as a brunch at her home in Forest Park. The first event was such fun guests suggested other friends who would enjoy the event the following year, and thus the ornament swap grew to over 40 attendees and a production in its own right.
When Crista and her family moved to Anchorage years later, her guests took over the swap and began taking turns hosting at other houses. Crista sent video greetings and even showed up as a surprise guest over the years, with many attendees at the swap having never before met the girl who started it all.
Read the secrets to Crista’s success in creating an event that is in its 13th year…
How did Crista create an event that was such a smash her guests kept it going?
1. Daffodil punch. If you’d like the recipe, !
2. Standardize the menu. As the swap grew, it was clear friends would need to pitch in and help host. The hostesses bring the same dishes each year, and when a hostess moves away or is unable to make the commitment, another person can easily step into her place.
3. Always invite new people. Half of the fun is connecting with a new person and broadening friendships. Besides the regulars, the hostesses ask for any other guests attendees would like to include on the invitation list. It is understood that sisters-in-law, moms, and other guests in town for the holidays are welcome to join in.
4. Dirty Santa rules. The ornaments are swapped according to classic Dirty Santa guidelines, with a limit of three swaps per ornament. This is entertaining but can get brutal, and new guests get no special coddling. The ornaments range from collectible brands to handmade, and there is never any predicting which one will be the biggest hit. Regulars know to keep an eye out during the year for a choice ornament and that the wrapping is an essential component of the covet potential.
5. Get help. Our beloved Doll has been keeping the kitchen humming and the punch bowl filled for years now, and this allows everyone to enjoy the party. She warms the food, replenishes supplies, and washes the utensils so there is no massive kitchen clean up at the end. The hostesses pitch in to cover Doll’s services (knowing, by the way, that she could out cook all of us).