12 Days of Christmas Party Ideas:
Christianity had taken root in Europe during the Dark Ages. Only Monks and some Aristocrats had the ability to read and write and only those of the Noble & Aristocratic Classes were allowed education. With the onset of the Reformation [appx. 1550- 1600], the invention of the printing press, and the determination of the Protestant groups popping up all over Northern Europe, printing information became the modern social network.
The protestors who fought against the teachings of both the Catholic [Roman] and Anglican [Henry VIII English] churches taught people to read in order that each person could decipher the meanings in the Bible for themselves.
These protestors were considered Enemies of the State and for European nations that meant the Church, as well. The Church dictated the laws that the citizens of a nation would follow, determined the punishments for breaking those laws, and directed the Head of State in the implementation of trade, economic, and foreign policy. [When the U.S. was formed, the constitutional provision for “separation of Church and State” was the response to the authoritarianism created when the two were joined at the hip.]
None-the-less, in Europe, reading remained a skill reserved for the elites. As a result, the celebrations of the Church surrounding the Birth of the Infant were taught through memorization of rhymes and songs.
There are 2 prevalent theories given to the meaning of the song.
One suggests that each gift was a symbol of each month of the year. This seems unlikely, however, since the Gregorian calendar did not take effect when such symbolism, which would have been used during the transition period of Pagan worship, was replaced with Christian traditions.
The second states that the song became popular among Catholics when Henry VIII criminalized practicing the religion – 1558 – 1829. As a result, those who remained true to the Catholic faith, created secret meanings to each “gift” so that they would remember the 12 days from December 25th to January 6th and focus on that teaching.
Planning the Parties – ideas:
For recipes, décor, and craft ideas, see here.
Since there are 12 days, try to arrange for 12 different locations and hosts for each party. This could be 12 shops in the mall, in the village, or 12 different departments in the office as well as 12 different family members and/or friends.
Decide if you want to celebrate the traditional days [Dec. 25th to Epiphany] or the U.S. Christmas season- Dec. 12th – ending on Dec. 24th. Another option is to have 12 different parties, in 12 areas, by 12 hosts, where each party lasts only 30 minutes or 1 hour.
Regardless, gifts should be limited by some measure – size, cost, color, type, ect. Simply because it is more fun, gifts that are purchased could be from the dollar stores around the country; otherwise, they should be made by the giver.
Each invitee should be asked to bring one small dish in a specified category, which could include the recipe.
For example, for day one the category should be “partridge”, “pear” and “tree”.
Using the symbolism [or not]:
On the First Day of Christmas – It is said that the “partridge in the pear tree” represents the birth of baby Jesus lying in a manger.
If you are interested in the religious aspect, ask that items are presented in nests, in cradles or in treasure chest type containers.
If you are more interested in the secular aspects, suggest presentations in nests, utilizing tree branches in some way or pear shaped configurations.
Choose tones that emulate the colors of the bird – greys, browns and soft blue-grays; the pear – creamy white, yellow, and lime green; and/or evergreen trees – snow covered, pinecone laden, and evergreen.
Partridges are unknown in the U.S. but chicken is a close relative. So chicken and pear dishes are desirable. Remember, the dishes should be small – normally serving a maximum of 8 people regardless of the number invited. Serve bite sized portions.
Decorations should follow with the same colors and styles and should all be hand crafted. If you feel that you lack craft talent, convince a group of kids to make them!
It’s not about how beautiful or elegant the décor is, it’s about the spirit of sharing with others for a day, evening or hour.
Traditional Christmas Music or you could select a program including the old European folk music [from the era.] Or try to find music that has any of the three words in the lyrics – even if they are not Christmas sounding.
Here are a couple of “pear” songs on youtube.
Find the Partridge in the Pear Tree –
Hide the bird [stuffed toy is best]; find the pear [make it either larger than life or teeny tiny; find the tree. The tree should have something unique about it –a branch with an odd color, a star sticker on the trunk, an unusual tree variety, a stuffed tree, a tree made of paper bags, ect.
Hide each item in a difficult location to spot – where they blend in or are not seen from a distance.
Randomly split the guests into three teams and give each team one copy of the hints as to the location of the item.
The hints should be vague, funny, nonsensical, or mysterious in some way. Just as in the song, the location could be “symbolic” of the actual place and the teams have to deduce the symbolism on their own.
The team that returns with the majority of the parts in hand each receives a “blue” ribbon made of construction paper.
Variation on the game:
Since Partridges were game birds and hunted for a holiday food source, you could provide each team with suction cup arrows and a bow. Place the partridge on the pear using glue or wire and make sure the pear is swinging from a branch of the tree.
Let each team try to be the one to knock the partridge off the pear.
Create a Paper Bag Tree Blindfolded -
For this craft game, randomly pair off all guests except for 3 ensuring that mates or couples are not on the same team.
Have one person in each pair put on a blindfold.
Give the other member a stack of 5 sandwich size paper bags, glue, pictures cut from magazines, trinkets from a cheap store or thrift shops, 3 crayons of different colors, cheap ribbon, glitter and partridge made of paper or printed on paper.
The seeing person is not allowed to touch the items except for the first paper bag. Their job is only to give direction and instruction to their partner who is blindfolded.
The challenge is for each blindfolded person to make a tree out of the paper bags and place the partridge in the tree.
Every item must be usedcompletely except for the crayons which must be used at least once.
Once a team has completed their masterpiece, they can remove the blindfold to see their creation.
Do not set a time limit for finishing.
The 3 guests that did not create anything become the “judges” and award the top 3 creations with awards or ribbons. If you want, blindfold the judges and have them “feel” their way to the winners.
Find the symbolic representation here for each of the gifts.