Games Are Always a Good Idea
“I am always a fan of a smaller, intimate dinner party,” says Serena Merriman, founder of event planning and design firm Merriman Events, who loves the tradition of participatory games in the vein of Secret Santa. Merriman hosts an annual White Elephant dinner party for which guests are asked to bring one wrapped present each, under $25, to contribute to the pool. “People draw numbers to determine who opens a present first and then players can choose an unwrapped gift from the pool or steal someone else’s,” she says. “It’s always fun to see how creative people can be and everyone goes home with a gift.”
For Merriman, there are three essentials for a successful party: candlelight, games and humor. “If the lighting is good, you have one game in your back pocket if the conversation lulls and there is a funny and/or surprising element (nutcrackers, scratch and win lottery tickets on every place setting, a surprise mariachi band), you really can’t go wrong,” she says.