Now that the Halloween decorations are taken down and the pumpkins composted, it’s time to start planning your annual holiday party! Whether you’re inviting your friends and family to a gathering or you’re planning an office party for your coworkers, you want it to be something different and fun that people will remember in the year to come. It’s hard to change things up every time. Here are five ideas—plus a bonus idea!—to help make your party the star of the season.

Look for Venues in Plain Sight

What’s your favorite restaurant, bookstore, or wine shop? Is there a place near your home that you’ve always wanted to try out? Sometimes businesses have an extra conference space that they rent out for special events, or they can close during evening or weekend hours for a private party. This way, you can introduce your guests to one of your favorite places while supporting them at the same time!

Plus, if they’ve hosted parties before, they’ll have a good idea of what vendors you can contact for food, drinks, decorations, and entertainment. And if they haven’t hosted parties before, you can blaze your own trail. Be sure to ask for their recommendations on bringing in food and drinks and visit the space ahead of time to make sure it’ll hold the number of guests you’re inviting, your décor, and your entertainment.

Bullwinkle’s Entertainment

Whether you’re looking for fun and games, food and drinks, or just a space where you can celebrate, Bullwinkle’s has you covered. Select our Holiday Party Package and receive a holiday buffet with decorations in a private room, three hours of unlimited outside attractions (weather permitting), unlimited bowling, unlimited LazerXTreme laser tag, unlimited blue card swiper arcade games, unlimited XD Dark Ride, and $5 in arcade credit.

We’re especially proud of our arcade, with over 100 video and redemption games where you can challenge yourself and others. Your guests will all certainly find something they’ll love and remember. Check out more of our group rates and ideas—we can handle any party, any time of the year.

Activities to Host at Your Home

If you’d prefer to stay close to home for your celebration, maybe you can come up with a theme while you rock out with your friends. There are tried-and-true traditional activities:

  • White elephant gift exchange: Everyone brings a wrapped and unmarked present. Each present is given a number and each guest receives one present. Guest #1 opens their present, and guest #2 gets to choose to either steal #1’s present or select their own present. There are lots of variations on this game—don’t be afraid to add your own twist!
  • Ugly sweater contest: You can decorate your own or go on a shopping spree. Who can find the best worst sweater? Guests can vote for their favorite and vie for door prizes.
  • Throw your own karaoke party: Music never goes out of style. You can even add your own twist: try Elvis night, and whoever sings gets double cookies!

You can also decorate cookies or create a theme around an era (the ’90s are back in style these days—we’ve still got some scrunchies and jean jackets floating around, just saying). You can take a gamble on casino night (see what we did there?) and even up the ante by providing prizes.

If you don’t feel like cooking, you can hire a food truck to park outside. Your guests will get a kick out of it—and you won’t have to clean up! If you have a favorite restaurant, maybe start there to see if they have a truck you can rent out for events. Foodies know that Portland is rife with food truck opportunities.

Check Out Your Neighborhood Game Store

Game stores are on the rise everywhere, and often it’s because they’re becoming a place not just to buy games, but a place to gather, perhaps enjoy a drink and some nibbles, and try out the games before you buy them. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it will definitely be memorable!

Some stores provide spaces where you can join sessions of roleplaying games and offer short sessions where you can learn about creating a character or how to play before going on a quest. Some also have conference spaces where you and your guests can spread out with a few different games, both traditional and new.

Volunteer Opportunities

For many, the holidays are a time to meditate upon gratitude within their lives, and a volunteer opportunity is a good way to spread that good energy around. You and your guests can meet for dinner and then go out to volunteer at a food bank, a soup kitchen, or a shelter. How often have we heard, “I want to help, but I don’t know how?” (The answer: lots!) Here’s a great way to champion a cause that’s close to your heart and to do good while helping out. If you don’t have a favorite charity (or need help choosing one), check out, which ranks charities that improve lives the most per dollar.

Bonus: Feeling crafty?

Get your guests into the holiday spirit by holding an ornament-decorating party. Check out your nearest hobby shop for construction paper, markers and paints, and your other favorite ornament and craft supplies. Maybe lead your friends in teaching them how to make an origami creation (or find an expert who can do it).

Or maybe you’d prefer to go the cookie route—did you know that you can buy gingerbread house kits? Add some other essentials—gumdrops, licorice, colored icing—split your guests into teams and let them compete for the most original gingerbread creation! (You can also just enjoy making the house and then eat it. We don’t judge.)

The sky’s the limit when deciding how you want to celebrate the holidays with your friends and family. We’d love if you spent it with us at Bullwinkle’s too! Visit our website or give us a call for more information on how we can make your holiday shine.