Tammy's Tips: Here are entertainment tips for holiday fun

By Tammy Macias, Columnist, The Friday Flyer


This is my absolute favorite time of year. I enjoy all the get-togethers to stretch out the holiday spirit. For many years I have been a party coordinator and have always enjoyed preparing parties and events, with a goal to make each event a memorable one.

My goal is to make each event fun for the guests and to provide different games with great prizes so they want to keep playing. I want to share my party tips so that your holiday parties and events are extra special! Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be so traditional. Add a few table games while everyone is at the table enjoying the meal.

? Guess How Many Items in the Jar ? One of my guests' favorite games that I do at most of my parties is the ”Guess How Many Items Are in the Jar” game. Simply grab any container and fill it with candies and little toys, lottery tickets and cash. Have each guests write their guess on a piece of paper and the one who guesses correctly, or comes closest without going over, wins the jar of goodies. In case of a tie, have a drawing.

? Sticker Surprise ? Place a happy face sticker under a few plates (or chairs) and at the right moment announce, ”Everyone please look under your plate (or seat). If you find a happy face, you, too, will be smiling because you just won a prize! So who’s smiling?” For Thanksgiving you can use turkey stickers, etc. Prizes can be $5 gift cards or lottery tickets or little wrapped prizes. Guests will wonder what’s next!

? How Many Words Can You Make? ? This game is fun for all, especially the older kids and adults, because, from the moment your guests walk in the door until the time the party is about to end, they are busy playing this challenging game.

Guests are unscrambling the letters trying to create the most words from a phrase such as, “Happy Thanksgiving Wilson Family.” Guests can use all the letters to create and unscramble letters to form words. Tell them words must be four letters or more and in English only. Twenty minutes before the event ends, have all guests stop and count their words and then see who has the most. The individual with the most words gets a great prize.

Tip: you can also give a prize to the individual who created the longest word. Also, since a lot of your guests tried so hard and put a lot of effort into this game, offer a second chance by everyone writing their name on their paper and turning it in; then do a drawing for another one to win a second place prize. You’ll see adults be real competitive with this game!

? The ABCs of . . . ? This is a simple game where the imagination of your guests come in to play. Simply write on the top of a paper,"The ABC’s of Thanksgiving” (or Christmas or the birthday person's name) and write the letters A-Z down the paper. Tell the guests to stick to the theme and write the words starting with each letter of the alphabet. The one who shows the most imagination will win a prize. (Tip: always give them the option to play ? some will think they don’t want to play but will end up being the most involved in the game.) Announce, “Just for playing, write your name on the paper and there will be a drawing for a runner-up. This makes a nice filler for bored guests.

? A Coloring Book Page ? Find a coloring book page (from a coloring book or off the internet) that goes with your theme and make several copies of it. Have on a counter or on a coffee table the coloring pages and crayons so guests can color. Adults enjoy this, too, especially if you make it a coloring contest! As guests are done, display them at the event and vote for the winning coloring page or place them all in a drawing for the winner. Provide a nice prize (a new box of crayons and a coloring book would be fun). It keeps guests entertained!

? Unscramble the Words Race ? This can be a very fun personal game. Simply write 20 words that go with the theme of your party. If it’s a birthday party, choose the birthday person’s name, things they are into, school they go to, etc. If it’s for Thanksgiving, write words like blessings, dinner, turkey, etc. and always include some of your guests' names. Sometimes they can’t even unscramble their own name ? it’s funny!

After you have the 20 words, scramble them as best as you can and type your list out and make copies. When it’s time to play this game, pass out the game page, face down, and tell guests not to flip it over until you say “Go!” Announce, “The first individual to unscramble all the words correctly wins a prize.” Wait to you see how the room gets quiet. You will have cheaters, so have guests keep their answers covered. Have a nice prize for this game because, after this game is over, they will have deserved a nice reward because it exhausts them. Tip: I can’t stress enough the nicer the prizes, the better results you will have in their interest to participate in your games!

? Have a craft table ? To entertain all guests, provide a table where anyone can stop and create something fun. For the holidays, provide a Magical Reindeer Food station. You’ll need glitter, oatmeal and bags. Simply mix the glitter with the oatmeal and place mixture in a bag. Give them pre-made tags that have instructions for Christmas Eve.

They can make a friendship bag that consist of several items from a list they put together in a bag to form a cute little gift for a friend. Provide the tags and all the items.

? Santa Letters ? Have kids write their letters to Santa at Thanksgiving so they are ready to mail or to give to Santa when they visit him at the mall!

? Other fun games ? From the internet you can find a lot of great printable games to make copies of for your parties. A Holiday Word Search, which you can use as a race game with your guests, a Holiday Trivia game, Name That Cake game, Christmas Song Picture game, the Points Game (guests receive points if they were on time, have blue eyes, wearing red, etc.)

Tip: I have master copies of tons of games ? a lot I have created myself ? I will be more than happy to share with you. simply e-mail me with your requests and I can e-mail you my number, too!

? Have A Theme ? How about an Ugly Christmas Sweater theme? Have your guests wear their ugliest Christmas sweater. It's a good idea to give them as much notice as possible so they have time to find one or create one. Tip: Target has ribbons for Ugliest Sweater; eBay sells ugly Christmas sweaters. Another theme is have all guests come in their pajamas.

? Cookie Exchange ? Having a cookie exchange is so fun. Have guests bring two dozen cookies of any recipe and they will go home with two dozen variety of cookies. Fun Fun Fun. Tip: provide packaging so the guests have a gift ready to give!

The holidays are so much fun, I couldn’t wait to share these ideas for you to enjoy. I also recommend that your guests create Snowman Soup near your coffee station, and provide candy cane seeds so that your small guests can grow their very own candy canes from the magic of Christmas Eve. (E-mail me at tammystips@hotmail.com for details).

Here is one last idea that has been one of the best ideas I’ve had and I get a lot of compliments for it! Have a caricature done of your family and take it to Staples or any office supply store and they will shrink it to size and have it made into a rubber stamp. Wow, now the ideas are unlimited! Use this fun stamp of your family on your envelopes when you mail your Christmas cards, stamp them on paper napkins that you serve at your party or make gift tags.

I made a return address stamp with mine and everyone loves it! Tip: copy the original first so your original can go in a frame on your wall and then you work with the copy version. Tip: make 5x7 color copies and frame and give as gifts to family members ? very original!

Tammy’s Tips on saving money this holiday season? Stores are competing for your dollar. For Kohls, JCP and Macy's, I find the best quality items for 75 percent off when shopping on their special discounted days!

Costco is always a favorite. Remember they do mark items down; they just do not advertise it in red. You will notice the last two digits of the price is .00 or .77 ? that is the discount. Don’t forget to pick up the free cookbook; it’s usually available as one per guest after Thanksgiving. Sometimes I am lucky enough to receive two and I use one as a prize for one of my games!

Happy holidays, have fun, save money and stretch out the holiday spirit by filling up your calendars with all the fun stuff to do around town. Remember $aving money makes cent$! Making time together makes memories to cherish. Keep in touch at tammystips@hotmail.com.