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A bit of a diversion from tech…

When we first moved into our current neighborhood, my wife and I wanted to really change how we interacted with neighbors from our previous neighborhood (which was your typical, drive in the garage, close it before anyone sees you).  We lucked out with a great neighborhood and quickly made friends for both us and our kids.  My wife was even able to really form a tighter knit community around things for stay-at-home moms and a babysitting co-op.  It’s been real fun.

We decided the first year to host a holiday party.  Trying to navigate around people’s thoughts of holidays, company parties, and the general lameness that usually is holiday parties, we tried to be different.  Fans of Seinfeld, I liked the ‘Festivus’ idea and we latched on to that.  We decided the first Saturday in December would be our holiday party – if you could make it, great, if you can’t…sucks to be you.

Each year we basically did a reverse white-elephant (or yankee swap) party.  We also had a chili cook-off.  Each participant in the cook-off had a chance at the coveted golden ladle (which is a plastic cheap ladle spray painted gold of course).  We have 10 contestants, each voted on by the attendees to determine winners in each category.  It’s a lot of fun.  We also have prizes for ‘best dressed’ which actually means worst dressed (some classic examples here and here).  Heck even crazy Santa with his escort for the evening might show up after a rough night.  We also have historically made a party favor…here’s some shirts we’ve made (click on image for better picture):

FestivusShirt  fstv20061front Festivus 2008 Shirt design

Each person gets a raffle ticket which then becomes a game of ‘what’s behind bag number XXX’ – which can be anything from a portable urinal for traveling to a Nintendo Wii – there’s crap with the good.  Every couple leaves with *something* though.  The winner of the chili cook-off can steal any prize as well. 

Some people don’t like these types of parties based on themes.  That’s cool, whatever – people like different things.  We really just pick the name and don’t really do much of the Seinfeld-esque things anymore (we used to)…it’s our tradition, so phooey on you for not liking it.

This year we wanted to do something different (and were late planning).  We decided to create family experiences (Festivus is usually an adult-only party), so we decided ice skating in the desert!  Festivus on Ice was created and we invited our friends and their entire families if they chose.  No cook-off this year, no shirts, and no prizes for everyone.  We did still ask folks to dress in their ‘best’ – and some figured since it was a skate rink, they would dress the part.  The winners of the top three prizes did not disappoint:

The Winners for the Night

It was awesome.  And really great fun for the family (yes, my friend covered himself up after a while :-)).  We had no injuries and only one reported child crying.  After the microphone in the rink failed, the I am T-Pain application on my phone saved the day and added some Auto-Tune humor for my master-of-ceremonies commentaries throughout the night.  Here’s a summary of the evening:

We really love our friends and neighbors and have a great time being a part of our community.  Hopefully this might inspire some of you garage-closers to get to know your neighbors better and create experiences that you’ll remember for a long time.  We certainly do.  Thanks to all our friends for coming and celebrating Festivus with us.

Happy holidays to you…whatever holiday you may celebrate, religious or not.

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