What exactly is Boxing Day? Despite the lively images suggested by the name, it has nothing to do with family members who have buckled under the stress of the season and resorted to fisticuffs. Nor does it gain its name from a necessity to rid the house of mountains of now useless cardboard boxes the day after St. Nick’s visit turned your orderly home into a maelstrom of discarded wrappings.
Boxing Day is the first of the twelve days of Christmas, and is primarily observed in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada — no partridges or pear trees required. Its origins are masked by centuries of folklore, but it is essentially a day historically “celebrated” by giving boxed money and gifts to those less fortunate than oneself. In the last century or so it has been recognized as a day to engage in all sorts of silliness with one’s family and friends and, more recently, shop huge sales similar to those held on “Black Friday.”
I suggest you ignore any such advertisements, stay out of stores, and instead throw a party. I mean, you still have all your holiday decorations in place, and I suspect you have an abundance of already-prepared food…
Keep Preparations to a Minimum
Make preparations easy on yourself. Everybody knows a tornado hit your living room yesterday so they’ll understand if your place isn’t pristine. A quick scan of the Plum Deluxe guide to hosting a party will tell you which rooms need to be made presentable.
As for food, I mentioned above the stock of leftovers, but why stop there when you know your guests are at a loss for how to unload their own stock of tasties. If you worry about an incomplete menu, peruse Sarena Regazzoni’s tips for potluck bliss.
When the food starts showing up, spread out the spread: one table for appetizers, one for mains and sides, another spot for desserts, and a beverage station. To supplement the heavier fare, set plates of cheese, crackers, chips, and popcorn on side tables throughout the party space. Just be sure to leave room for guests to set down their groaning plates and drinks.
Enforce a Strict Dress Code
Nobody gets in unless they are dressed in a suitable manner for lounging on the couch. Go full on sleepover mode, footie pajamas and all. Okay, if your party will also include time outdoors I guess you can offer a little slack. Just make it clear that this is a come-as-you are sort of affair.
Entertain with Ease
Many people need the day to recover from the harried holiday haze, so give them an excuse to take it easy. Have everyone throw a favorite flick or board game into the mix. Video games work, too.
You might find some of your guests crave something more active to work off their holiday stress — or holiday pounds — so add some sport to the day’s plan, weather permitting. Mimic the British with an improvised fox hunt, rubber ducky races, or a few rounds of soccer…err…football. For the couch jockeys, tune into traditional European favorites such as soccer or horse races. Sit in front of a roaring fire and gawk at people taking a winter swim in rivers and oceans.
So long as the weather outside isn’t frightful, a bonfire would be delightful. It may, in fact, be the easiest sort of party to throw together. String up a few extra light strands, build a fire, and pull up a seat. Bonfires are also the source of the most powerful party tool ever: s’mores!
Don’t groan; this gift swap involves getting rid of the presents that aren’t quite your taste. (Some great aunts never get it right despite their good intentions.) Instead of taking yet another trip to a packed department store, sit back with an Irish coffee and make a switch. Who knows what treasures your friends want to unload from this year or holidays past! Just make sure you only barter with presents from loved ones who are out of town.
Build a Fort
It is Boxing Day, after all. You have boxes of all shapes and sizes. You have bows, you have tape, you have scissors for cutting windows and doors. Build a fort or a city or a yacht! Take cover from the enemy during a wadded-up-paper fight. Then, grab some refreshments and smash your creations like an oversized lizard on a sugar high. Trust me, kids and inner children will love this plan! At the end, make the friend with the biggest vehicle haul away the recycling.
Whether you choose to make silly activities or no activities the focus of your Boxing Day party, you are only obligated to do one thing: unwind.
Photo Credits: Instructables, CatchMyParty, François Philipp, atfruth, and branditressler.