This has to be one of the coolest holiday traditions I know about. My in-laws (ex) host a huge neighborhood caroling party on the 23rd of December each year. It started out as an actual house-to-house caroling party but quickly evolved to a party at their home with a hundred folks gathered around the two beautiful Steinway concert grand pianos in the music room. (She's a classically trained pianist and has played at Carnegie Hall, twice!)
All of the neighbors come and bring a dish, many of them have become almost as much of a tradition as the party itself. The college kids always make it home from school in time for this party... everyone arrives early and stays late. Certain songs are sung each year and people wrangle for the best parts. The Twelve Days of Christmas parts are handed out and some of the youngest kids have a chance to perform, too. Many of the neighbors are also talented musicians and singers; many are involved in local theater and very respected church choirs. In other words... the music is good. Now, I am sure you are wondering how I am involved and why I still get to go even though it is the ex-in-laws... well, I bring all of the fresh cut greenery from the farm and help do all of the decorations. And I'm fun :)
This is a party for all generations and a wonderful tradition you should start in your own neighborhood.
Like I said, everyone pitches in and the host provides the beverages and a couple of the most requested dishes. Amy's Egg-Nog is also one of the highlights... in both high-test (spiked with bourbon) and regular versions. Sam's famous Erma Bombeck Dip has been a Christmas tradition as long as I can remember. But it doesn't last long!
Since the house is already decorated for the holidays, decorating is easy. Vases of fresh greenery, Poinsettias, and candles (where the kids cannot knock them over) are all you need. Snip the ends of greenery and keep it outside in buckets of water until party day. Put your arrangements together the morning of the party and they should stay fresh through the holidays.
Print copies of your favorite Christmas carols and staple them together so guests can have the words in front of them. If you are not lucky enough to have a concert pianist in your group, call the local college music department or a nearby church... and if you don't have a piano, get someone who can bring a keyboard. If all else fails, there are plenty of sing-along CD's or Karaoke tracks available. Have a well-rounded mix of carols to sing... include classics like Oh Holy Night to popular hits like Santa Baby and Rocking Around the Christmas Tree. One of the highlights of this party is when the men sing "Walking 'Round in Women's Underwear" to the tune of Walking in a Winter Wonderland. It is hysterical to see bankers and lawyers and even cops singing that one.
Here's to the holidays... create some memories with those you love. And your neighbors, too!
Photos: Arden Photography