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‘Tis the season to gather with family and friends amidst the twinkle of vibrant lights, the warm crackle of a fireplace, and the nostalgia of red or green décor.

But with that hectic pace of the holidays just around the corner, this doesn’t give you much time to plan and execute the perfect seasonal soiree.

So whether you’re hosting an office social for your co-workers or a laid-back evening with your closest friends, these last-minute ideas will ensure a festive party atmosphere that’s both merry and bright—without the added stress.

Backyard Bonfire Roast Party

As the weather cools down and the daylight hours shorten, it’s an ideal time to huddle around a firepit with the people you love.

Host a bonfire in the backyard, complete with outdoor games, torch lights, cosy blankets and seasonal noshes.

For a sweet tooth option, provide the fixings to roast s’mores and simmer a batch of crockpot hot chocolate.

Or if you want to serve an entire meal for the guests, Midwest Living recommends hearty winter staples like fondue or chilli that can be enjoyed around a roaring flame.     

Tacky Christmas Jumper Party

What is the reverse of a swanky gala with a black-tie dress code? The obvious answer is a tacky sweater bash, and for this event, the quirkier your guests deck themselves out, the more hilarity will ensue.

So the choice is yours—either keep it G-rated, or make it adult only with jumpers that scream “naughty list.”

You can even reward the person, whose attire is the most outlandish, with a Christmas-themed mug and Starbucks gift card to savour a holiday drink (while rocking that sweater, of course).   

Around the World Potluck Party

If you’re curious about how other cultures show off their holiday spirit, then a global inspired celebration is an exciting way to find out.

Invite guests to prepare traditional foods which represent Christmastime all over the world and host a potluck where everyone can sample these unique, exotic dishes.

This streamlines the menu planning, so you can focus more efforts on other memorable touches such these decorations from various countries for an ambiance that’s culturally diverse and authentic.

Holiday Cookie Exchange Party

Since just about every person breaks out their oven mitts and dusts off their cookie recipes this time of year, it’s the perfect occasion to gather your loved ones for a cookie exchange.

Bake a few dozen seasonal treats, and request your friends or family do the same. Then invite the whole crew together to nibble on each other’s creations, swap their favourite recipes, and bring home a selection of these holiday desserts.

To pull off the ultimate cookie exchange, Good Housekeeping delivers some hassle-free ideas.

No matter how you decide to celebrate the holidays, these creative and festive themes are sure to enchant your guests and make them feel all the warmth this season has to offer.

Even if you’re short on time, there is no reason you can’t still host a meaningful experience for those you care about—and maintain sanity in the process.

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This man, Gunnar Garfos, visited ALL 198 countries in the world by the time he turned 37-years old, which is a pretty big accomplishment if you ask us. 

So when people ask him to pick his favourite, you can imagine how difficult it is to pick just one.

However, Gunnar made a list for Business Insider and thinks that everyone should visit these 12 countries at least once in their lifetime:

1. Romania

"Transylvania, best known for its castles, mountains, and of course Dracula, will stun you. Not to forget the parties in the capital Bucharest. And Romanians even know how to make great beer."

 

2. Madagascar

"There is no doubt about the French having 'visited.' The gourmet options in Antananarivo are world class, until it comes to the bill. You will think they have forgotten most of what you ordered."

"The coastline, the lemurs, and the baobab trees will gobsmack you."

 

3. Iceland

"You know that big island in the middle of the Atlantic. It's been battered and beaten by winds and waves for a million years, and it is still there!"

"Just bring your swimming gear, and sit in 40 degrees hot natural springs while your hair will freeze and get covered by snow. Unreal."

 

4. Vietnam

"The definition of friendliness can be found here. Just remember not to let the hustle, bustle, and traffic stress you."

"Sit down, order a drink, relax, and watch. And do not forget to check out the Mekong Delta and its floating markets."

 

5. Kyrgyzstan

"Stunning nature, colourful markets, and very friendly people, unless they think you are an American pilot who is likely to run away with one of their beautiful girls. Bring a cup for world-class vodka."

 

6. Kiribati

"Paradise, like it used to be. There isn't much luxury, but the fantastic seafood and the hospitality you are likely to experience by locals make up for it, by far."

 

7. New Zealand

"Enjoy white, black, and golden beaches, any kind of water sports and activities you didn't know existed."

 

8. Nicaragua

"This is a very diverse country between Costa Rica and Honduras. You'll find legendary surf spots, incredible diving opportunities, and stunning nature."

 

9. Sierra Leone

"This paradise is on virtually no one's bucket list, but it should be if you are willing to challenge your comfort zone a tad. Expect amazing beaches, idyllic villages, and smiling people. Don't expect infrastructure."

 

10. Dominica

One of the least known islands of the "Caribbean so deserves to be seen by more people. Of course, that would take away some of the charm of the volcanoes, Boiling Lake, the hidden beaches, and the rainforest."

 

11. Norway

"The wild mountains, the twisting fjords, the unimaginable waterfalls, the magnificent glaciers, the tiny villages, and the midnight sun will leave you speechless."

 

12. Uruguay

"You know that country in between Argentina and Brazil? The second smallest country in South America is still rather undiscovered, although I have no idea why. The memo about the calm and relaxed, yet very exciting people must have gotten lost in the mail."

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