From Ho-Hum to Ho Ho Ho!

Forget the itchy sweaters. Here are some ways to celebrate with creativity.

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Brace yourselves: The next few weeks will be a blur of holiday parties. These galas and gatherings, big and small, certainly add to the joy of the season, but sometimes they can run together. After awhile, the identical plates of cut-out cookies, plastic cups of eggnog, and Secret Santa exchanges merge into one sugar-sprinkled morass of itchy sweaters and awkward conversations with co-workers and distant cousins.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way: If you’re a host, local resources are available to create a Christmas party entertaining enough to cheer even the dourest Scrooge. All it takes is a bit of planning (begin thinking about 2019 now), some creativity, and maybe a few Christmas miracles.

If you’re planning a large party for employees, clients, or perhaps a whole community, it’s hard to beat St. Nick’s approach: Nothing says “Christmas” like eight tiny reindeer – or even just one or two of them. In western Wisconsin Noel Productions (715-533-0637) can bring reindeer magic to private or corporate parties, community events, or schools. (Take note that these animals are in high demand this time of year, so it’s best to book them early.) Meanwhile, Fantasy Corral in Woodville (715-698-3079) has got camels, donkeys, and other critters if you’re interested in creating a live Nativity scene.

Exotic animals don’t fit your mood or budget? Don’t worry; you don’t need a magical flying sleigh to enjoy the twinkling Christmas lights that decorate the Chippewa Valley this time of year. Why not rent a limo or party bus and bring the whole gang on a light-sighting adventure? A chauffeured nighttime drive with a hot toddy in your hand makes for a party few will soon forget. (Remember, the locally legendary Christmas Village in Chippewa Falls’ Irvine Park opens Thanksgiving night and runs through Jan. 1.)

Want to record your guests’ ugly sweaters and goofy hats for posterity? Instead of relying on your co-worker’s iPhone, rent a traveling photo booth. They’ve become de rigueur at weddings in recent years and are perfect for holiday parties, too: Snapshots are a zero-calorie treat.

Finally, nothing says Christmas like the jolly old elf himself. We can’t provide you with Santa’s email address (sorry, we promised him we wouldn’t share it), but renting a costume and impersonating Kris Kringle is an inexpensive and easy way to make a party memorable for children (and adults) of all ages.

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