The Best New Tradition - Holiday Wrapping Party

Years ago I hated wrapping presents. Not single presents for lovely friends but the sheer amount of gifts to be wrapped at Christmas. I would be begrudgingly wrapping gifts at late on Christmas Eve and feeling anything but MERRY. By the 3rd paper cut and 4th glass of mulled wine I would be tipsy and frustrated.

Until I began a festive and fun tradition with my best gal pal Meghan: A holiday wrapping party!

A little backstory: Meghan and I have been friends since we were teenagers, and one of the things we bonded over was our love of all things holiday (hello eggnog lattes! YUM!). We would swoon over Christmas decorations & music, and have the time of our lives watching every cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie.

I can't remember what the impetus was for us to start this tradition but we haven't missed a single year since we began.

So what exactly is it?

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The Holiday Wrapping Party takes wrapping from holiday task to holiday celebration! It's the chance to celebrate friendship while marking off another line on your to-do list. It's fun, festive, AND useful! 

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1. The most important piece of your wrapping party is the person/people you wrap with!

A wrapping party can be as many or as few people as you like - the important piece here is to celebrate with those you love.

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2. Wrapping Supplies & Gifts!

Obviously you'll need wrapping supplies: wrapping paper, scissors, tape, boxes, gift bags, ribbon, - and don't forget the gift tags! 

This year I caved in and bought from the Sugar Paper for Target gift wrap collection. Polka dots, stripes, and gold foil *sigh* 

It doesn't matter where you get your wrapping supplies, but I would suggest buying at least two kinds of wrapping paper that compliment each other. It is an easy way to make your wrapping look a little fancier without have to do much extra work! 

And, of course, you'll need gifts. If you're struggling to find the perfect gift check out these awesome gift guides:

 The Everygirl's Gift Guide - this one has something for everyone & is easy on your budget

Rising Tide Society Gift Guide - this is extra special because Earl Grey & Polka Dots is featured this year along with other amazing artists and companies that are all small businesses & part of the creative economy.

3. Holiday Beverages & Snacks

Let's be honest here for a second: what is the point of a party if you can't eat & drink your favorite holiday themed beverages & foods?! Can I get an amen?

Let's start with beverages:

Poinsettia Cocktail 

1 part champagne

1 part cranberry juice

1 part vodka (this is optional - if you want to keep it a bit sweeter then leave the vodka out!).

Combine all parts into a pretty cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange peel or a few cranberries!

Eggnog

Eggnog is one of my favorite holiday drinks! I love mine with a shot of spiced rum or whisky, and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top! You can drink it spiked or not. Either way, serve it in an adorable tumbler to make it a bit fancier!

Drink your spiced cider out of our adorable new mugs! Shop here!

Drink your spiced cider out of our adorable new mugs! Shop here!

Spiced Hot Cider

Spiced cider is one of my favorite drinks to sip on all winter long. My secret is to warm it in a crockpot so I can have hot cider anytime I like. Plus, making it in the crockpot allows the spices to really blend with the cider. 

Ingredients:

Apple Cider - there are always lots of options with cider. I love to get a couple of gallons from my local farm as they often press their own cider, and it's incredibly fresh! You can also just get apple juice from the store. Once it cooks up in the crock pot no one will even know *wink*

Cranberry juice - I like to add a cup or two of cranberry juice to my cider as it adds a bit of tart to the sweet apple flavor. 

Cinnamon sticks - for every large crockpot full I use 5-7 cinnamon sticks

Cloves & Oranges - Push a handful of cloves into 2 oranges and allow them to steep in your cider. You'll get the tangy orange flavor from the peel, and the spice from the cloves!

How To Cook:

Put all of the ingredients into a large crockpot. Cook on the high setting for 2-3 hours or until the liquid is at drinking temperature. Leave on low for 2-3 more hours to really get the spices mingling. 

Or make this night before and leave it on low all night. You'll wake up to delicious spiced hot cider!


Now onto the food:

Sweet treats: this year I bought a couple of bags of Pepperidge Farms cookies. I also love the white chocolate and peppermint covered pretzels! Whatever sweets your heart desires will be a lovely addition to your holiday wrapping party.

Chex Mix

No holiday season would be complete without Chex Mix. It may seem a bit silly but truly it doesn't feel like the holidays until I bake my first batch of Chex Mix. And we ALWAYS have Chex Mix at our parties. Over the years I have honed my recipe, based on the recipe on the back of the Chex boxes about 10 years ago (their recipes have changed in that time). I have never shared this recipe publicly - so enjoy! Forewarning: this version is extra flavorful & intense. P.S. Use the powder version of the garlic & onion salt if you are watching your salt intake!

Ingredients:

1 stick of butter

4 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon garlic salt or powder

1 teaspoon onion salt or powder

3 cups Corn Chex

3 cups Rice Chex

3 Cups Wheat Chex

1 cup pretzels

1 cup mixed nuts

How To:

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees

Combine all chex, pretzels, and mixed nuts into a large mixing bowl with a lid.

Melt the butter in the microwave. I usually use a mug for this as it makes pouring so much easier!

Once the butter is melted add the Worcestershire Sauce, celery salt, onion salt/powder, garlic salt/powder to the butter. Mix thoroughly. Pour the wet mixture evenly over the chex, pretzels, and nuts. Place the lid firmly on the mixing bowl and shake the bowl until all of the ingredients are evenly covered with the wet mixture.

Pour the chex mix out onto a baking sheet. Bake at 250 degree for an hour, turning & mixing the mixture every 15 minutes.

Serve in a cute bowl or in individual cups for the perfect salty snack at your wrapping party!

4. Wrap those gifts!

And, of course, commence with the wrapping! Find a spot on the floor, or on a large table and wrap away! 

We like to listen to Christmas music or watch Hallmark Christmas movies while we wrap. Netflix now has quite the collection of holiday movies AND The Holiday (one of my FAVE Christmas movies) is on Hulu right now!

Here are a few of my favorite Christmas albums:

1. Luther Vandross: This Is Christmas. Favorite song: "The Mistletoe Jam (Everybody Kiss Somebody)"

2. Michael Buble: Christmas. Favorite song: "Cold December Night"

3. Harry Connick Jr: When My Heart Finds Christmas. Favorite song: "Sleigh Ride"

4. Nat King Cole: The Magic of Christmas. Favorite song: "Caroling, Caroling"

5. Josh Groban: NoëlFavorite song: "Angels We Have Heard On High" Featuring Brian McKnight

6. Celine Dion: These Are Special Times. Favorite song: O Holy Night.

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Wrapping parties help take the stress out of wrapping and make it festive & fun instead. And it gives you the opportunity create holiday memories.

Happy Holidays from Earl Grey & Polka Dots! If you plan a wrapping party please let me know either over on Instagram: @earlgreyandpolkadots, or through email: sara@earlgreyandpolkadots.com.

I would love to know what things you chose to make your wrapping party special!

With love & tea & holiday magic,

Sara (& Meghan!)