Looking for a way to spread Christmas cheer? One word: caroling. It's a great tradition that, unfortunately, takes a backseat to other holiday activities that require less effort but aren't near as fun.
Maybe it's because people think that it should be a church event, or because there seems to be less interest. Whatever the reason, you'll discover that caroling is one sure-fire way to get everyone into the spirit if you take the initiative and plan a party exclusively for Christmas Caroling.
Before you set your plan in motion, decide on a location. Of course, the weather will need to be considered because you don't want to be out in a storm, blizzard or dangerously low temperatures. If you decide to go door-to-door, check the extended forecast first. You can use that as a guide but you will need to have a backup plan should the weather turn bad. This could be an alternative location, an indoor party, postponement, or cancellation (bah-humbug!)
Christmas is about giving and there's an inner-sense of peace and satisfaction when you spend time with those who will appreciate the attention. Consider caroling at a nursing home, hospital, or homeless shelter. This will allow your group to sing in a warm environment with proper lighting to read the lyrics.
I went caroling at the same nursing home with students in elective choir annually for three years and I can tell you that those folks truly enjoyed our visits. It gave them something to look forward to. If you want to explore any of the above options, check with the staff first to see if this is possible and set up a convenient day and time of arrival.
If you're going caroling in cold weather, you'll need to wear layers to be comfortable. Still, there are choices as to whether to dress in casual or formal attire. Organized church and group choirs may choose to dress formally while families and students prefer casual. The message you're delivering is important but the presentation can be quite lovely if you opt to dress in old-fashioned attire, a la Norman Rockwell or Charles Dickens. Talk about picture-perfect!
You'll need to get the word out and you can do this by hanging flyers or sending out individual invitations. Promote the caroling theme with cut-out ones in the shape of a song book or a picture of one displayed on the front. Besides essential information such as date, time, place, and location, be sure to include other pertinent info. For example, where you will meet, where you will sing, attire, whether children will be included, and any alternative locations in case of adverse weather will answer questions before they're asked and help your guests plan accordingly.
There are many hymnals or song books available that provide Christmas Carols. You can check locally at stores that offer religious items or at online book stores. Party shops may sell them during the holiday season. Look for books that are affordable and somewhat durable. Find the best you can for the money because you will need to buy several or many copies that may be used year after year.
Song books that are sold primarily for caroling are not bulky and are easy to carry. Keep in mind that some books will provide religious songs, some general holiday songs, others will have both. Also, some have just the lyrics and others have both the lyrics and the music -- which is great for a fun time around the piano.
If song books aren't in your budget, you can make your own. There are many websites on the Internet dedicated to Christmas carols that allow you to pick 'n choose the specific songs you wish to sing. All you need to do is print them off and bind them. Make sure that the fonts are large enough to easily read and do not contain mostly background and busy images. Alternatively, you can transfer the lyrics to a word processor where you can change the font sizes and add your own images. While your at it, add page numbers on the top, right-hand corners so that carolers can quickly find specific songs.
Party after caroling with some seasonal refreshments. Serve typical goodies such as Christmas cookies, brownies, candy, and cake. Hot chocolate, coffee, tea, or cappuccino will warm your guests quickly. Don't have time to do all the baking? Lighten the work load by asking guests to bring treats to share with others. This request can be stated on the invitations.
If your carolers will consist primarily of children or school children, reward them afterwards with a goodie bag to take home. Add nutritious food such as apples, oranges, pears, and peanuts (inquire about allergies if you include any type of nuts.) If you want to satisfy a serious sweet-tooth, throw in some candy along with seasonal party favors and the kids be forever grateful.
Sing all verses - If you do this when you're walking, it will reduce the number of songs you will be singing but will keep you from continuously turning the pages or searching for songs.
Props - Battery-operated candles add a nice visual touch and are a safe alternative to real candles that can catch clothing on fire or blow out in the slightest breeze.
Bundle up - Advise your guests to dress appropriately for the weather. Even doing this, there will usually be someone who comes up short. Have extra hats and gloves handy for those in need.
Sing along - Ask your audience to sing along and you'll have a full-fledged choir. Professional entertainers will tell you that participation can be the key to a successful party.
Karaoke - Christmas karaoke? You bet. Imagine the fun you'll have when your guests sing solos to Christmas classics.