When I look back on my favorite memories in my life, I realize that parties bring me the most joy. There is something about people getting together, eating, laughing and making memories that sends my heart aflutter. I love creating a magical setting for guests to enjoy.

In December 2014, I was fortunate enough to head up the Christmas party for my ward. I selected the theme of “The Polar Express” and put together a wonderful committee to help me make the vision come to life! I was blessed to be surrounded by amazing woman that helped me create, organize, and execute our plan.

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The theme of the evening was “Believe”. Believe in Christ- Believe in the true meaning of Christmas- Believe in the magic of the season.

Let’s start with the overall decor in the cultural hall. We draped the ceiling with white lights and snowflakes and created several other focal points around the room.

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Guests were greeted with a polar express photo backdrop. Families and individuals were photographed upon arrival, and the digital images were made available to them after the party.

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We built a ticket booth using a sub-zero refrigerator box covered with red brick paper.

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Our awesome Bishop played the role of “Train Conductor” all evening. He stood in the ticket booth when guest arrived.

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Using a wide variety of cardboard boxes, we created a Polar Express train that was crashing through the wall between the food tables.

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For centerpieces, we spray painted #10 cans red and filled them with pine tree remnants that we picked up for free from the local Christmas tree lot. We embellished the can with ribbon to look like Santa’s belt. To finish the look, we placed the centerpieces on small squares of chevron wrapping paper.

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Cardboard was our best friend when it came to decorations….we cut out the facade of a train engine and placed it at the front of each row of tables.

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Several of the guest arrived in pajamas. ADORABLE!

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We put together a “Humanitarian Depot” where we collected bags of canned goods. Large paper bags were handed out 3 weeks prior to the event. We received over 50 bags of food at the party, which was promptly delivered to the local homeless shelter. The young women helped run the depot through the night.

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A table was set up in the back with large Christmas cards personalized for each missionary out in the field. Guests were able to write notes to the missionaries throughout the night.

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We served breakfast for dinner. We offered biscuits and gravy, country potatoes, breakfast casseroles, sausage, french toast sticks, and orange wedges. We served dinner to over 350 people at the party.

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Two things were important to me when it came to entertainment: 1. Have as many people involved as possible. 2. End on a spiritual note.  I edited the Polar Express book in order to make it more condensed for our performance. The program included the narrator telling part of the story and several performances to songs from the Polar Express soundtrack. The young men and young women performed a swing dance, the Jr. primary boys marched in with their own personal cardboard train, the activity day girls danced to hot chocolate, select ward members sang Silver Bells with an acoustic guitar, an amazing concert pianist played Oh Holy Night, our Bishop said a few words about Christ and the true meaning of Christmas, and lastly, the entire congregation sang Silent Night.

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The youth had a blast during the performance!

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We finished the evening off with a hot chocolate bar!

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We dipped spoons into chocolate and candy that the guests could use as stirring sticks.

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We can’t forget the dessert bar.