By Kelsey Cassel

During the month of December, we attend holiday party after holiday party. Make your festive fete stand apart from the rest with an unexpected theme that kicks the merriment up a notch.

Vintage holiday

So much of the holiday spirit focuses on reflecting the traditions and memories of the past. Pay homage to the holidays of yore with a vintage-themed party.

Décor: Scour consignment shops, antique stores, neighbors’ attics, even thrift stores to find vintage holiday decorations. Bonus points if you find Shiny Brite ornaments, a type of decoration popular during the mid-20th century.

Menu: Serve a variety of canapés, a type of hors d’ouerve that has a cracker, toast, or puff pastry based and is topped with a “canopy” of savory foods, such as salmon mousse or crab. Popular in the 1950s, canapés are making a comeback—they were served at the Royal Wedding in April.

Signature Cocktails: Research popular cocktails from the 1950s and ’60s. Try a Sidecar (Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice), an apple cider sidecar (brandy, triple sec, and apple cider), or Sparkling Gin Punch (orange juice, lemon juice, gin, grenadine, orange bitters, and soda water).

Glitz & Glamour

Focus on the finer things in life at this adults-only evening affair.

Décor: Consider a dark red, white, and silver color scheme, and look for Christmas decorations that are glitzy without being over-the-top or tacky. Hire tuxedo-clad waiters to pass hors d’ouerves and glasses of Champagne to your guests.

Menu: Plan the menu much like you would plan any other classy dinner party you might host—using upscale, seasonal, delicious ingredients, and serving luxurious, indulgent desserts.

Cocktails: It’s all about the bubbles here—A Flirtini is a must (vodka, champagne, and pineapple juice—make it pink by adding Chambord), as is the traditional Champagne cocktail (Angostura bitters, champagne, brandy, and a sugar cube).

Three Fun Holiday Theme Parties

Menu: A mid-afternoon holiday party doesn’t require as much food as an evening affair. Think about what you would typically pair chocolate with: Fruit and cheese are two great options. Set out Hot Chocolate Cupcakes (recipe below) for a sweet ending to a fun party.

Cocktails: Offer a hot cocoa bar that children and adults can indulge in. Start with carafes of two to three types of hot chocolate (regular and peppermint is a good starting point). Set out bowls of add-ins, such as various types of marshmallows, peppermint sticks, cinnamon, whipped cream, and candies, and let guests build their own mug of cocoa. Don’t forget peppermint schnapps, Kahlua, and Chambord for adults to add a little zing to their cocoa!

Christmas Cocoa

This theme is perfect for an afternoon affair that invites both kids and kids at heart who can’t resist a steaming mug of hot cocoa while the snow is falling outside.

 Décor: Create a red, green, and chocolate brown color scheme, featuring fun, whimsical designs such as polka dots or swirls. If you have a collection of holiday mugs shaped like Santa Claus or dotted with snowflakes, group them in displays. If you don’t have a mug collection, holiday mugs can be found cheaply online and at secondhand stores.

The District at Tustin Legacy