Host a Winter Solstice Party

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Host a Winter Solstice Party

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Gather family and friends for a winter solstice party. Photo Credit: RelaxFoto.de/E+/Getty Images

Yule is coming, and that means that for many of us, it’s a time to get together with family and friends! Even if your whole friend and family circle isn’t Pagan, you can still invite everyone to join you for a winter solstice party. After all, the return of the sun is a pretty significant event, no matter what religion people may follow.

Where and When?

The first thing you need to do – obviously – is pick your date. Now, if you’re in the northern hemisphere, the solstice, or Yule, is going to be some time around December 20 – 22, and it’s near June 20 – 22 if you’re one of our readers below the equator. But the fact is, not all of us are available to celebrate right on the exact date of the solstice. Think about your friends’ work schedules, babysitting and parenting needs, and so forth. It’s perfectly acceptable to schedule your party for a Friday or Saturday night before or after the solstice, if that’s what works best for you – it’s also okay to plan it for first thing in the morning!

Tadgh is a Celtic Pagan who lives in Wisconsin, near a lake. He says, “I always host a huge solstice party on the Saturday morning nearest to Yule. My friends think it’s a bit ridiculous, but it’s become a tradition to meet at my house about an hour before sunrise on that Saturday morning. We all hike out to the lake – usually I’ve got snow by then – and I have a bonfire waiting to be lit that I’ve stacked and prepped the night before. We light the bonfire to stay warm, and when the sun finally peeks over the edge of the lake, we yell and cheer and shout and generally cause a huge scene and it’s awesome. Afterwards, we all go back to my house and I make a huge breakfast and we all get warmed back up, and then everyone’s gone by nine and I take a nap.”

After you’ve picked your time and date – whether it’s morning or evening – be sure to send out invitations! The holiday season is a busy time for most of us – get those invites out early. If you wait too long, people will have made other plans. If you don’t have time to address a bunch of invitations – or you want to be eco-friendly and not waste paper – digital invites are perfectly fine. If you do decide to send actual cards as invitations, go with something seasonally appropriate, like images of the sun, candles, or fire!

Also, keep in mind who you want to have as guests. Will your party be family friendly, or adults only? If you're asking people not to bring their children, be sure to let them know, so they can make alternate arrangements for child care.

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Host a Winter Solstice Party

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Organize activities and fun things to do at your party!. Photo Credit: Imgorthand/E+/Getty Images

Deck Your Halls and Walls

There are a lot of ways you can decorate your house for a winter solstice party, and you don’t have to break the bank to do it. Candles, lights, wreaths and boughs of greenery, and solar symbols are all seasonally appropriate. Be sure to read about Five Easy Yule Decorations for some ideas.

Activities Galore!

Depending on whether your party is in the evening, or in the morning like Tadgh and his friends, you may want to come up with some activities for your guests. Try one of these Yule rituals for your Pagan guests:

Yule rituals seem like a logical addition to a winter solstice party – but if your friends and family members aren’t all Pagan, they may want to sit that out. Make them feel welcome by coming up with ideas that everyone can enjoy. Try one of these ideas for fun:

  • Singalongs: Got a friend who has a guitar? Invite them to lead the group in singing traditional holiday songs. Did you know that modern Christmas caroling evolved from the early English custom of going wassailing?
  • Storytelling: If you’re all sitting around nice and cozy by a fire, why not tell stories? Share myths and legends, fairy tales, or even start a round robin style tale, where each person tells a piece of a story, and the next person continues where the previous one left off.
  • Write a Play and Act it Out: In centuries gone by, holiday celebrations were often marked with impromptu performances. Have a box of items like hats, capes, or even old sheets for people to use as costumes. If you don’t have time to write one of your own, stop by your local bookstore and pick up a collection of short skits.

Not a fan of organized activities? That's okay - you can still have fun! Consider picking a theme for your party that's a little more informal: ugly holiday sweaters or a white elephant gift exchange can be great ideas. If you'd like your party to be a bit more altruistic, ask each guest to bring a donation to help a needy family or local charitable organization.

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Host a Winter Solstice Party

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Celebrate with a big dinner or a casual potluck. Photo Credit: Romilly Lockyer/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Food and Feasting

No celebration is complete without a meal, so plan ahead of time what you’re going to serve. If you’re working on a budget – and most of us are – invite your guests to bring their favorite dish so you can celebrate potluck style. If you’re doing a sunrise celebration that’s going to involve breakfast, do as much of the prep work as possible the night before. Not sure what to feed your friends? Check out some of our most popular recipes for ideas!

If you’re feeling really fancy, you can even do a special wine pairing, based on the foods you are serving. The folks over at Wine for Normal People have a great podcast on which wines to select, including German Riesling, the white wines of Alsace and Rhône, and Bordeaux.

Party Favors

Lots of people feel obligated to send their guests home with favors after a party. If this is something you enjoy doing, go for it – but don’t feel like you need to spend a fortune one goodies for your guests. After all, they’re getting the gift of your time as a host or hostess. If you want to put together some inexpensive and Yule themed favors, try one of these ideas:

  • Ornaments that celebrate the season
  • Potpourri or pomanders, or even a bag of incense blend
  • Burn a mix CD of your favorite seasonal songs, and send a copy home with everyone
  • Winter-scented candles – bonus points if you’re crafty enough to make them yourself!