Once Upon a Time Holiday Party

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For the past few years I’ve been asked to serve on the holiday planning committee for our division at work. We usually plan for 100-120 people with food, decor, and entertainment.

This year our theme was inspired by our VP who is retiring in a couple of months. Since she loves books we decided to have a literature themed party. This morphed into “Once Upon a Time” and we took cues from the ABC drama mixing royal hues with woodsy elements.

Instead of the traditional and often heavy holiday meal, we asked our caterers to come up with an amazing soup and salad bar. They truly did a stupendous job. They had so many fixings, mixed greens, delicious salad dressings (soy plum, my fav!) along with a variety of soups and rustic bread. At the beverage station they had build your own hot cocoa, mixed soft drinks, coffee, tea, and apple cider. The biggest surprise was they brought in tree branches and pine cones and used braided burlap throughout the set-up without us even asking! The service was seriously top notch.




food display

braided burlap

For decor we used a lot of books with woodland elements. Each book I spray-painted in our color scheme and used a metallic sharpie to write the names of classic books on the spines. I made satin flowers and paper medallions to scatter around the table. In the center of the table we used book pages glued to contact paper. On top of the books we stacked a simple vase with a gold ribbon tied around it filed with carnations and red hypericum berries. This was all really inexpensive but made a huge impact!


center pieces


For the dessert buffet we chose our favorite candies and treats. Catering provided a variety of cookies with some rice crispy treats. For the candy we chose gummy bears, peanut and plain m&ms, andes mints and peppermints along with a large bowl of pretzels. We got the takeout style boxes from Oriental Trading that fit the woodsy theme. For the background we used a sheer piece of fabric with twinkle lights behind. Then we hung paper medallions and satin flowers from the sheer. Notice the table runner? Also made out of book pages!


side dessert

We gave mini hot cocoa jars away as favors. I used an old dresser and suitcases to store the goodies to be given out as guests left the event. I was obsessed with the little woodland creatures I found!
hot cocoa

favor area


woodland creatures




The last area we had was called “The Giving Tree”. Guests were asked to bring non-perishable items for our food pantry. We flanked the table with trees we purhased at a local lot and gave them away to a couple of folks who hadn’t put up a tree yet for the holiday season.
giving tree

mercury owl

We kept the entertainment very simple. We had a mad lib at each table that was a part of the “Twas the night before Christmas” story. Once all of the tables were finished we put the story together and had our Vice PResident read it aloud. Honestly, is there anything funnier than a VP reading the word fart? I don’t think so! The leadership team also sang a “Twelve Days of Christmas” type song for our VP, which was hilarious.

Next year we’ll probably do something really zany and loud since we kept it simple and subdued this year. I can’t wait!

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