Why We Have a Christmas Party

Ever since my husband and I bought our home three years ago, we have had an annual Christmas party for friends and family. This past weekend was our Christmas party and it was a blast as usual.

So many people ask why we have a Christmas party and why we do it the way we do (it’s not potluck), so I thought I would shed some light on our philosophy.

One, I love party planning.  I love finding cute decorating ideas and interesting recipes to share with everyone…which leads to reason number two

I love to cook. It’s my second passion (just check out my recently neglected Clayton Family Kitchen blog…I promise to get back on track once The Hurricane Effect’s 1st draft is done).

Three, my husband is a very social creature. He loves talking and mingling. I always say he could talk to a wall and convince it to do anything he wanted.

All of those reasons are what started our desire to have a Christmas party, but over the years more important reasons have come to outshine them.

We get asked why we provide all the food, when we could have guests bring food.

This started out because I wanted a reason to cook, but now its because we want to provide a place for friends and family to come enjoy themselves without the pressure of having to bring something. This is our opportunity to serve the people in our lives and show them how much we appreciate them. We also don’t know the private lives of everyone who might attend. This meal could be the highlight of their Christmas season. Too often we take for granted that everyone has a huge family waiting for them on Christmas Day. How easy it is to forget that this is really the saddest season of the year for a lot of people (reminders of lost loved ones, or the absence of family). We hope that our party provides an uplifting experience that can bring some joy back into this time of year.

We get asked about the stress of trying to pull off a party for anywhere from 30-50 people.

I’ll admit its very stressful, especially in the hour leading up to the arrival of guests. Things start just getting thrown into the nearest closet or drawer. My mother-in-law comes the night before and we start cooking. This year my parents were able to help and my husband’s sister joins us the day of the party. We have so much fun, even when we can feel the tension in the room. Memories are made in the crazy moments.

This year, I loved watching my husband and his mother trying to make “Frosty hats” from Oreo’s and marshmallows dipped in chocolate. It was comical to watch them try to dip them in the chocolate and get them out successfully.Partyprep

Then there was that moment when three magnums of champagne burst in my freezer, because I didn’t know you couldn’t put champagne in the there. I opened the freezer to see it covered in champagne snow and my heart just sunk. My husband and his sister took spoons and scooped some of the champagne snow declaring that it was awesome, which brought a smile to my face.

I also remember making my mother shell pistachios, and her asking if I thought people couldn’t shell their nuts. It was for a recipe…that I didn’t even have time to finish…sorry Mom. But now, I’ve got a ton of pistachios all ready to eat! Thanks again! 🙂

Or my Dad washing dishes for hours on end, each of us dumping dishes in front of him and he replying he already washed that one…he’s a professional after this party!

Oh and I can’t forget my husband going crazy with the sprinkles on the cake and blowing them all over the kitchen, including onto a plate of grilled cheeses his sister was making. They both burst out in giggles.

There are countless other moments throughout the day that were made into family memories. I got pure joy out of watching my husband interact with his mother, sister and my parents.

We also get asked how we afford to provide the food, etc.

We aren’t rich, but in lieu of buying each other gifts we buy the food and other things for the party. Over the few short years we’ve been doing this we realize how much more we get out of this party than we ever would some material gifts. We are blessed by this party in so many ways. The joy of our family together, the happy faces of our friends who say they look forward to it every year, the ability to bring people together and the chance to get to know them better. We love the opportunity to serve others in our home. We’ve truly learned that it’s better to give than to receive. Our hearts have never been fuller.

And that, my dear friends, is why we have a Christmas party. Wishing everyone a safe and happy Christmas!


The Tale of Two Sisters

When I started writing The Hurricane Effect, my mind was flooded with the thoughts and memories of my husband and the extraordinary way we met. But the more I’ve delved into this story, the more I’ve realized this story is about so much more.

As I go back through the details, I’m reminded not just a love story between two people, but a story of friendships and other relationships.

I’ve felt a wave of nostalgia going through all the memories of the first moments with my husband. I can still remember the first time I heard his voice and how much I loved his deep Southern accent. Unfortunately, after many years of being in the deep South myself, I can no longer hear it. But the memory is with me forever.

But the deeper I go with this whole story, the more memories of others surface and I’ve reveled in their importance.

I grew up an only child, even though I’m technically not. I have two older half-siblings, but they were quite a bit older than I and so we didn’t have shared childhoods. In all respects, I was raised an only child.

So, many times people tell me that I missed out on a wonderful experience because I didn’t share my childhood with any siblings.

But I beg to differ. I didn’t miss anything.

Not because there wasn’t anything to miss, but because they didn’t realize I had “siblings”. I met my first “sister” at the tender age of seven and then later another “sister” in college.

Going through the past, I’ve seen just how little I missed out on. When I’m writing the hard parts of this story, I’m reminded of how my “sisters” have always been there for me.

In my childhood, I had a friend come into my life when I was seven and she’s still with me today. She’s the protective sister, who nowadays gives the best advice and who I automatically think of in a crisis. She’s the calm in the middle of a storm.

But as kids we were each other’s partners in crime (some secrets are still kept between us). Countless hours were spent playing Nintendo, board games, swimming in the pool or sleepovers. We lived down the street from each other, so we were constantly at one another’s homes. Our lives easily intertwined.

I still remember the heartache I felt when she left for college (she was a couple years ahead of me in school). It was like losing a part of myself. I looked forward to the few weekends I got to spend with her at college and when she was home on breaks.

In college, I gained another sister in the most unlikely of ways. But once she was in my life that was it. I spent countless nights sleeping in her dorm when her roommate was gone (I promise I didn’t slobber on the pillows…haha). There’s lots of memories with her, but one sticks out more than others. She’s probably long forgotten, but I still remember just falling apart one day in front of her. She gave me a hug and just let me cry it out. I’m terrible at showing emotion, but it was nice to know I could share that with her and feel comfortable doing it.

So, no I didn’t miss anything. I didn’t miss the good times that come from having siblings or the terrible moments of fights and arguments. We’ve been there, done that and we’re still going strong, despite the distance. And there’s moments, that I get sad and wish they were here. Those times when a phone call just doesn’t feel like enough. I don’t get to talk to them nearly enough (both parties at fault…life gets so busy!), but the moment I talk to them or see them its as if time has stood still. We pick up right where we left off.

Writing The Hurricane Effect, has gave me a new appreciation for my husband, but also the friends…the sisters… who’ve been with me all these years.

No, they aren’t blood family, but some of the strongest bonds are with those who choose to be in your life.


My three sisters (one gained by marriage) and an unhappy flower girl 🙂