There's nothing MacPharlain loves more than spending the holidays with friends and family, especially when music is involved!
Spread Holiday Cheer In Your Neighborhood
Organizing or hosting a Christmas caroling party is a fun and festive way to celebrate Christmas. Your caroling party can be casual or fancy as long as you have fun. There is no need to dress up in fancy Victorian costumes like these folks (but it might be fun). Grab a glass of eggnog and read on for tips to plan your first Christmas caroling party!
Christmas Caroling Party Basics
There are three basic parts to most Christmas caroling parties:
- Everyone meets up to get organized. This is usually at the host's house but could be anywhere.
- Go caroling!
- The carolers (and anyone who joined along the way) head back to the host's house for desserts, hot drinks, and more fun.
Now let's look at each part in more detail.
Tips for Party Planning
Everyone's calendars fill up quickly, right before Christmas. So pick a date and get your invites out early. A month in advance should do it.
Pick a Date and Time
Choose a good date to go caroling. Anything before Thanksgiving is too early; you won't get many carolers, and your neighbors will call the cops on the crazy person singing on their lawn. After Christmas is probably too late; everyone will assume you've had way too much eggnog.
That leaves about four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas to choose from. Fridays and Saturdays are good since your carolers likely won't have to get up for work or school the next morning. Pick a reasonable time to go caroling, somewhere between dinner time and before people put their kids to bed. Plan on 1/2 hour for everyone to arrive and get organized then an hour or so of caroling.
Send out Party Invites
Along with the standard invite stuff (date, time, location), consider including these extras in your invites.
- Ask everyone to bring a dessert (cookies are always popular) or drink items to share for the party.
- Request an RSVP, so you know how many people to expect. Also helps if they tell you whether they're bringing a dessert or drink.
- Recommend that they dress warmly and bring a flashlight or headlamp.
- Ask carolers to bring jingle bells or wear Christmas caroling costumes if they have them.
Build Your Caroling Song List
Caroling is easiest if everyone has the same list of carols. You'll know they have the song lyrics and can simply shout out "page 7" as you walk to the next house. One song list for every 2-3 carolers is plenty.
To build your song list, you can type and print your own sheets, copy pages from a songbook or get enough copies of a songbook for everyone to share.
Below is a book you can try.
Plan Your Christmas Caroling Route
Before everyone arrives at the party, take a few minutes to plan out where you're going to carol and how you'll get around. If you're starting and ending at the same place, then plan out a circular route that gets you back with minimal backtracking.
Remember that you want to spend most of your time singing carols, not walking.
Get Ready to Go Caroling!
After everyone has arrived, take care of a few logistical items before setting out.
- Distribute the song lists.
- Specify how many verses of each song. You might want to sing the first three verses of all songs or change the number for each. I find that the 1st verse is nearly completed by the time most folks get to their door so sing at least 2-3 verses.
- Go over the route you plan to take and how you'll communicate which song to sing next. You could cover the latter by printing out a list of the songs you'll sing in order.
To keep things organized and to be a good neighbor, it's helpful to give your carolers a few tips before setting out.
- Use sidewalks where possible. Avoid trampling through lawns and yard decorations. This keeps you on good terms with the neighbors. It also reduces the chance of someone stepping in mud or doggie landmines and tracking that into your house later.
- Gather the group before singing. Make sure your carolers have all gotten to the next house before knocking on the door and starting to sing.
- Include the children! Kids will have a blast going around in a big group, knocking on doors and singing carols. It helps if they have a special task like going ahead to knock on the door of the house while the rest of the group assembles to start singing.
People May Join Your Group
You'll be amazed at how excited some people get when carolers visit their homes. There may even be a few that want to join in the celebration and go caroling with you. The more, the merrier!
If someone joins your group, get their name and contact info so you can invite them next year.
Caroling Variations You Can Try
Here are a few more ideas for your caroling party:
- Go caroling outside your neighborhood. Consider caroling at a nursing home, another neighborhood or anywhere else you think would enjoy some Christmas cheer.
- Dress up! Really get in the spirit by dressing up in formal wear or something Victorian for that nostalgic Christmas feel.
The Party Starts After the Caroling
After your merry band of Christmas carolers has finished singing around the neighborhood, it's time to come back to a nice warm house for dessert and drinks.
Taisha Dejesus on November 19, 2018:
Im from the greater boston area and would love to go Christmas caroling, but i dont know many people that would go. hoping to find team to be able to join this year!!
Emily on December 03, 2017:
As a teenager, a group of us went caroling two different years. Both nights were warm by Iowa standards. Best of all, big snow flakes fell gently around us. We returned home to enjoy hot cocoa by the fireplace. They are two of the sweetest memories I have.
Felecia on December 16, 2015:
We have done carolling parties for two years...this year its this weekend...i am excited and looking for new options for light for kids and adults alike. Love xoming back to my house for hot cocoa, cookies and games by the fire! Such a blessing for all who participate.
Kevin on October 25, 2014:
We began a party very similar to this several years ago. We invite all of our friends to carol with us. Choir practice begins at 5:00 and we hit the neighborhood at 6:00. Our route takes through the neighborhoods adjacent to our home. As we sing, each neighbor is invited to join us and we end back at our house for a night of food, drink and more singing around the piano.
anonymous on November 15, 2013:
You know, as much as I love Christmas, this is something I've never done. What a great way to bring people together. I've seen carolers in holiday movies and it just brings a big smile to my face.
I lived in the urban areas of the city all my life and recently moved to a more rural environment so I don't know many people. Sometimes when I'm out for my walks they'll see me and say, "I neighbor!". They don't know my name but they acknowledge me anyway - that's a good feeling,
This might just be a great way to get to know them better.
Thanks for sharing and I love your sense of humor.
clouda9 lm on December 22, 2012:
Loved joining in for caroling on Christmas' past. Now that we live in the middle of nowhere it is hard to get together with folks...shoot!
Ann Hinds from So Cal on December 20, 2012:
We did this for years and I miss it more each year. Thanks for the reminder.
Mishael A Witty on December 18, 2012:
I haven't been caroling in a very long time, but I would love to do it again. I might just have to organize my own caroling party!
anonymous on January 03, 2012:
Our choir (very small) usually carols and goes through the same neighborhood near Church. There is one neighbor whose kids I went to school with, who is in her 90's. She loves when we go to her house. She always invites us in to see her ceramic Nativity, that a priest made for her back in the 70's. He had also made one for my mother and one for me, so I still have it. We always act like we've never seen one like that before and it seems to make her so happy to be able to share hers. We also, always walk away with a cookie or two.
cwkerns lm on December 19, 2011:
Great idea. Thanks so much for posting. I am going to use this next year.
MacPharlain (author) on December 16, 2011:
@athena2011: Go for it!
athena2011 on December 16, 2011:
Very nice lens. Made me feel warm and Christmassy inside. I wish people would do Christmas caroling in my neighborhood. Maybe I'll have to look into forming a group myself.
Beverly Lemley from Raleigh, NC on November 19, 2011:
An elderly member of our church gave every caroler a hand painted ceramic angel, right there, at her doorstep. It is still a treasured keepsake and memory, soo many years later! B : )
MacPharlain (author) on February 05, 2011:
VarietyWriter2 on February 05, 2011:
Nicely done. Blessed by a SquidAngel.
AuthorNormaBudden on December 05, 2010:
I live in Nunavut, Canada and, much to my chagrin, it's too cold to stand outside and sing Christmas carols. Also - even if I took a chance and planned to host such an event - because the weather is unpredictable, sending an invitation would always have to be extended with a weather-permitting announcement with Plan B and C included, just in case.
I would love the opportunity to join in such a festivity, though. Perhaps in a couple of years when I live in a southern province and can really enjoy the experience without suffering from a major case of frostbite.
I thoroughly enjoyed your lens...
oztoo lm on December 02, 2009:
Nice lens with good advice for being organised. Party afterwards sounds good too.