Finding good Winter Solstice party ideas can be a bit of challenge, when so much of the Winter Solstice and how it’s celebrated is still not known.
Falling on the longest night of the year, Winter Solstice celebrations are usually held on December 21st or 22nd. The date celebrates the return of the sun, where nights will now grow shorter and days longer all the way to the Summer Solstice on June 21st.
I’ve been celebrating the Winter Solstice for more than 10 years now. I still loved Christmas for its season of goodwill and present-giving. But the Winter Solstice reminded me how to celebrate the season in a more human and intimate way, and giving back to nature.
Here are my favourite Winter Solstice party ideas to get you started.
Winter Solstice party ideas for your party set up
Decide the best time/place for your Solstice party
Whether you choose twilight, late evening, early evening, these are all good times and it’s totally up to you. You can party through the night too, staying up until sunrise.
Do you celebrate indoors or outdoors? Nature, light and sunlight play key roles in the meanings that relate to the Winter Solstice. If you’ve got a backyard space, decide early on if you’ll have a bonfire. 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 food and fresh air.
But if you prefer to stay indoors, an open fireplace can be a good alternative. Better yet, you can display candles of different heights in a corner of your room.
Plan your party invitations
Since the Winter Solstice is all about the sun, light up your party with these invitations that feature photos of candles, the sun and the stars.
You can make these yourself by printing images from the web and gluing each one to a piece of white postcard. On the back, make sure you include party time, date, location and contact info, and ask you friends to ring you with any dietary needs
If you are using a bonfire, ask guests to bring warm clothes.
Decide on the decor for your Solstice party
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, especially tea lights along window sills and candles displayed in candle holders or inside jam jars that are placed, spaced apart.
Be careful with candles, if serving alcohol at your party; you don’t want anyone getting drunk and knocking them over.
You can add extra lighting by mixing in houselights and lamps instead: swap out the bulbs for dimmer lights to give your room a cosier feel. Hang twinkling fairy lights around your door and window frames. Add a few wreaths made of natural materials from nearby woods or bought from a flower shop. Display a large homemade image of the sun on your main wall, which you can make out of yellow construction paper.
Winter Solstice party ideas for entertainment
In many ways, what sets the Winter Solstice apart from other holiday events is its ‘stripped back to basics’ approach to fun. It’s just you and your friends improvising fun, with whatever is to hand.
So it goes without saying: lock away your iPads, your smartphones and all that. Go digital-free.
Hold a Group Reflection by Candlelight session
This is one of the central Winter Solstice rituals. Sit everyone together in a circle on the floor. 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
Time for a group song! Break out the guitar for tunes that celebrate the light such as ‘Here Comes the Sun’ or ‘You Are My Sunshine’. In the past, my friends and me went into woods with the guitar for more singing, or even the streets. If you don’t fancy that, you can snuggle up to the songs by the fireplace.
Write a Play Together
And perform it! I love activities like this. Make sure to have a trunk of spare clothes at the ready, for makeshift costumes.
You can also write poems or songs and share them as a group Paint together. Face paint each other.
Hold a Storytelling Session
This is another personal favourite. Get everyone sitting in a circle on the floor for a round of Winter storytelling. Everyone gets a good telling a story.
The types of stories you could try could include old Winter folk tales, stories about fun experiences you’ve done this year, scary winter stories, intimate personal stories. If you’re in the mood for it, band together for a group story-writing session and perform the results.
Play Pictionary, Chess or Scrabble
Board games will keep you up until sunrise, that’s for sure. Jigsaw puzzles are also cool.
Winter Solstice party ideas for the food
We’re going ‘back to Nature’ with the feel of the food here. There’s a lot of roasting, stewing and baking involved. To give your tables a woodland feel, scatter the table tops with walnuts, chestnuts, berries and oranges.
Some menu ideas might include: roast meats, stews and homemade pies; roasted parsnips, swedes and marrow; homemade soups; loads of salads; 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
The sun theme should be reflected in the food. So, try and get everyone feeling hot by adding in a few spices, with chilli and mustard for garnish.
For drinks, consider Schnapps, mulled wine, whiskey and hot toddies, cocoa and lots of herbal teas.
Winter Solstice party favor ideas
When your celebrations are over, why not send guests back to the light with nature-themed party favors, such as pine cones, potpourri, drawstring bags filled with walnuts, oranges, scented candles and candle holders. You could throw in 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.
If you follow any of the Winter Solstice party ideas above, you will create the perfect celebration, no matter what kind of budget you have.