Christmas A story

Three ideas for an untraditional Christmas party Are you planning a Christmas party this year but finding it hard to get excited about throwing the same old bash? Shake things up with one of these un- conventional holiday party themes. 1. Sushi party Order a take out platter of sushi, or bet- ter yet, make your own. Set up a sushi making station complete with bamboo roll- ing mats, cooked Japanese rice, sheets of nori (dried seaweed used to wrap sushi rolls) and a variety of sliced fish, veggies and even fruit. Be sure to serve strawberry

How to stop trying to do it all and actually relax over the holiday For many people, the pressure of trying to create the “perfect” Christmas can make the season seem daunting and stressful. If you want to relax and enjoy the holiday as much as your family this year, you need to resist some of the pressure. Here’s how to do it: • Say no. Around the holidays, it can feel like all your free moments are booked. Instead of accepting every invitation you get, stay home on occasion. Use such evenings to make cookies and watch Christmas movies in your pyja- mas, or order take out and eat in the li- ving room.

with plain masks and everything you can think of to decorate them, including glitter, feathers and markers. Be sure to snap photos of everyone in their fancy outfits and masks. 3. Twelve courses of Christmas This party is all about the food. Create — or have your caterer make — a twelve- course menu, complete with wine pairings. To avoid getting too stuffed, take care to have each course be small. Of course there are other possibilities for your uniquely themed Christmas bash. Motifs involving another era, a particular colour or a specific location are all feasible. Simply invoke your creativity and your Christmas shindig is sure to be the most unforgettable event of the season.

yourself, ask your guests to bring some of the dishes. Or better yet, have your entire event catered. You’ll enjoy your party that much more if you’re not in the kitchen the whole evening. Your guests will also be happy to spend more time with you. • Think quality not quantity. To relieve the stress of needing to buy the perfect gift for everybody on your list, organize the type of exchange with your family or group of friends in which everyone only buys for one other person. Picking names from a hat tends to be the best way to arrange these types of gift exchanges. • At home with your kids and spouse, consider buying only one bigger gift the whole family can enjoy instead of a bunch of smaller presents. It’ll save you the time and effort normally in- volved with buying multiple presents. This year, make a pact with yourself and your loved ones to keep Christmas simple. A lighter, more carefree holiday is the best way to ensure that everyone gets to relax and enjoy the spirit of the season.

shortcake for dessert — it’s the trad- itional Japanese Christmas cake.

2. Masquerade party Leave your jeans and ugly Christ- mas sweaters in your closet and have your guests come dressed in their finest formal wear for a masquerade ball. Encourage everyone to wear a mask, or have a mask making station

• Outsource. If you’re hosting dinner, ins- tead of cooking a multi-course meal

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