Planning a caroling party … lighting, safety, sustenance, the route, the music Essay

Planning a caroling party . .

. lighting, safety, sustenance, theroute, the music For spreading holiday cheer door to door, there’s nothing likean old-fashioned caroling party. Over the years, we’ve heard fromreaders who’ve joined voices with family and friends to celebratethe season. Here we share their tips for making the event a success forall. Set a date and invite your guests as soon as possible–the week ortwo before Christmas is usually a busy time. In case of wet weather,you might also schedule a rain date. Serve a two-part menu.

As guests gather, offer light finger foodsthat don’t require more than napkins or paper plates, makingclean-up easy. Have something warm and more substantial waiting whenyou return, but limit main dishes to ones you can leave warming whileyour’re out. Ask guests to bring thermoses to carry whilecaroling; before you set out, fill them with cocoa, spiced cider, oranother hot drink to ward off the evening’s chill. Plan a route. Decide where you’re going before you hit thestreet. It’s often a good idea to alert neighbors that they mightbe visited (or to find out if they’re even going to be home).

Ifthere’s nearby convalescent home or children’s hospital, callahead to see if you’d be welcome. Pick a leader who can keep a group of adults and children organizedboth musically and geographically. Choose someone who has a loud voiceand a sense of humor.

The leader decides what song to sing, which houseto visit, and which child can ring the next doorbell. Before you leave, take a few minutes to practice–you’ll warmup your voice, overcome any jitters, and leave with a feeling of modestself-confidence. Have music in hand.

Songbooks are a must. Few people remember thewords to the third verse of “O Come, all ye Faithful’ or otherfamous carols. For large groups, you could type out the lyrics and havecopies made for each singer. To find songbooks, check music stores,bookstores, and libraries. Some churches will loan books toparishioners. Encourage anyone with a musical instrument to bring it along.

Off-key notes commonly occur, and an instrument can help unsure voicesget back on track. You can also buy or borrow a few cassette tapes offavorite carols to plug into a portable player as a sing-along cue. Light up. Ask guests to bring flashlights or candles.

Candleshave a romantic charm and also aid in visibility. Choose the dripless kind and put them in glass holders or fluted foil baking cups. As an alternative to candles, you can decorate flashlights bytaping lengths of bright-colored tissue around the lens end. When theflashlight shines, the translucent tissue gives off a warm glow. Or make a highly visible “sandwich board’ by applyingpatterns of reflective tape on pieces of lightweight white cardboard.

The tape reflects direct light brilliantly. You can find it at manyautomotive supply stores and bicycle shops; a yard of inch-wide tapecosts about $2. A band of reflective material for joggers makes a ready-to-wearitem. It’s sold in bicycle shops and running supply stores. As carolers wander from house to house, they invariably overflowfrom sidewalks and stroll on the street.

Think about asking people withflashlights to stay on the perimeter; light can define the edges of yourgroup and pick up hazards such as uneven pavement. Photo: Candle-lit carolers share songbooks borrowed from a church.For windier nights, they’d need flashlights Photo: Before heading our, carolers enjoy light snacks, then followthe leader to warm up their voices.

Jackets in light, bright colorswill keep them warm and more visible outside at night Photo: For safety in the dark, one caroler wears a white sandwichboard with reflective tape (far left), another wears a jogger’schest band. Colored tissue paper glows at end of flashlight

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