Add Winter Solstice celebrations to your holiday entertaining – and you’ll be experiencing a fun-filled, relaxed and stress-free party.
Here, you’ll be celebrating the longest night of the year…
…December 21 or 22.
From then onwards, the days will then grow longer, the nights shorter, up ’til June 21 – the Summer Solstice.
Bonfires, dancing to light (like this woman is doing) and wild feasts also offer a down-to-earth alternative to the commercialism of Christmas.
Let’s get you started.
Step 1, decide time/place for your Winter Solstice celebrations
Best Time to Celebrate? — This is up to you.
- Twilight, late evening, early evening – these are all good times. You can party through the night too, staying up ’til sunrise.
Celebrate Indoors or Outdoors?
This is the part about the bonfire.
Since Nature and sunlight are key parts of Winter Solstice rituals, decide early on if you’ll have one.
You’ll need to think about location, fire safety and where to buy wood for burning.
- If you do opt for a bonfire – hold your party indoors, so guests can hop between
- Prefer to stay indoors? Then an open fireplace is a good alternative
- Don’t have a bonfire or fireplace? Don’t worry. Displaying candles of different heights in a corner of your room is cool.
Step 2, plan your invites for your Winter Solstice celebrations
Since the Winter Solstice is all about the sun, light up your party with these simple invitations.
Cards with Candle Photos
- Pre-buy, or make your own, by gluing images of candles to white card
- Add your party details to the blank side – and get a double-sided invite made at your local print shop
Handmade Sun-shaped Cards
- Buy a stack of yellow-colored cardstock, drawing an outline of the sun to each. Cut them out, adding party details to one side.
Solstice Party Details — Include party time, date, location and contact info. Friends got special dietary needs (like dairy allergy)? Let them know to ring you.
- If you’re using a bonfire, ask guests to bring warm clothes.
Step 3, plan the decor for your Winter Solstice celebrations
Lighting plays an important part in Solstice decorations, as it evokes the “return of the sun” idea.
Candles are the easiest way of doing this.
- Display in candle holders or jam jars placed outside, spaced apart
- Place a few along window sills. Float tea lights in a large glass bowl
- Be careful with candles, if serving alcohol at your party. Not just in case people get drunk and knock them over. Mix in houselights and lamps instead.
Hang up twinkling fairy lights around your door and window frames.
Create wreaths using natural materials from nearby woods or a flower shop.
Display a large homemade image of the sun on your main wall.
- This can be made out of yellow construction paper with glitter
- Invite friends to write their feelings about the Solstice in marker pens.
Step 4, plan activities for your Winter Solstice celebrations
In a way, a Winter Solstice party takes a “back to basics” approach to its fun – relying just on you and the fun you’ll create on the spot, with whatever is to hand.
So, to get involved, lock away your iPads, Wii’s and smartphones.
Group Reflection by Candlelight
This is one of the central Winter Solstice rituals.
- Gather everyone in a circle
- Invite each person to share something they’re grateful for and why
- Then, give everyone the chance to write down what they want to leave behind
- Gather up their notes after, for burning in an urn or at the bonfire later.
A Sunny Singalong
Break out the guitar for to tunes that celebrate the light – like ‘Here Comes the Sun’ or ‘You Are My Sunshine’.
- Take your guitar out into the woods, for a late night sing-up
- Or snuggle up to the songs by the fireplace.
Write a Play Together
And perform it. Have a trunk of spare clothes at the ready, for costumes.
- Write poems or songs and share them as a group
- Paint together. Face paint each other.
Throw a Trivia Night
Test what you know about the longest night of the year, with a Winter Solstice symbols quiz.
Or mix up these questions with other trivia games on Partycurrent.
Hold a Storytelling Session
Get everyone on the circle for a round of Winter storytelling. The types of stories you choose to tell can vary. Try:
- Try old Winter folk tales
- Or stories about fun experiences you’ve done this year
- Scary winter stories
- Intimate personal stories
- Or throw a group story-writing session.
Play Pictionary, Chess or Scrabble
Board games to keep you up until sunrise. Jigsaw puzzles are also cool.
Step 5, decide the food for your Winter Solstice celebrations
We’re going for a “back to Nature” feel with the food.
Lots of roasting, stewing and baking here. Scatter your tables with walnuts, chestnuts, berries and oranges.
The sun theme still rules. To get everyone feeling hot, add spices, even chilli. Here are a few menu ideas:
- Roast meats, stews and homemade pies
- Roasted parsnips, swedes, marrow
- Homemade chicken or beef soup
- Crumbled goat’s cheese with crackers
- Big loaves of bread, served whole, so people can tear chunks
- Jacket potatoes, roasted in foil on your bonfire
- Chillies and mustard as garnish
For drinks, Schnapps, mulled wine, whiskey and hot toddies rule the tastebuds.
Add hot cocoa and tea of all types.
Step 6, party favors for your Winter Solstice celebrations
Send guests back to the light with nature-themed party favors.
- Pine cones, potpourri, drawstring bags filled with walnuts, oranges, scented candles and candle holders are a few sweet examples
- Add a little thank you poem for each guest, tailored to that person
- Create a mix CD of your sunlight-related songs, to hand out post-party.