A mixed-faith holiday party is possible

Putting the focus on the people can make everyone feel welcome.By Mindy Baxter

Don’t let planning a holiday event leave you paralyzed with fear at offending a guest. Instead, think outside the box to be inclusive.

Andrea Lyons, CEO of All About Presentation, an event-planning company in Richmond, Va., says planning an event for people from a variety of backgrounds can be more fun with fewer rules to follow.

Go neutral

For Lyons, the first place to start is the look of the party. Choose to decorate in a neutral, but not boring, theme. Think sparkles, glitter and golden, Lyons says. And skip Christmas’ red and green, Hannakuh’s blue and white and Kwanzaa’s red, black and green.

“This is not vanilla, though” Lyons said. “Go nuts and make it beautiful, but not in a color palette that makes people think of a certain holiday.”

Plan your menu

Variety is key when you’re planning a menu for a variety of people.

“Always try to have things that will fit a variety of diets,” Lyons says. “Take care and think through your menu. Your goal should be no one leaving hungry.”

For vegans, offer crudites for appetizers and berries for dessert. For vegetarians, have plenty of vegetable dishes, and have at least two options for others.

Think of your message

No matter the religion or faith, the holidays can be a time to focus on what different religions have in common.

“One thing we all feel is gratitude,” Lyons said. “We’re grateful for what we have, not what we don’t have.”

Gift giving

Think of the person, not the holiday, when gift-giving. A gift from the heart is always appreciated, Lyons said.

“Some people have a great sense of humor and would appreciate a gag gift,” she said. “Others might enjoy a bottle of wine.”

But by taking the emphasis off the holiday and putting it on the person, all should feel welcome.

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