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Planning a caroling party ... lighting, safety, sustenance, the route, the music.

Planning a caroling party . . . lighting, safety, sustenance, the route, the music

For spreading holiday cheer door to door, there's nothing like an old-fashioned caroling party. Over the years, we've heard from readers who've joined voices with family and friends to celebrate the season. Here we share their tips for making the event a success for all.

Set a date and invite your guests as soon as possible--the week or two 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 foods that don't require more than napkins or paper plates, making clean-up easy. Have something warm and more substantial waiting when you return, but limit main dishes to ones you can leave warming while your're out. Ask guests to bring thermoses to carry while caroling; before you set out, fill them with cocoa, spiced cider, or another hot drink to ward off the evening's chill.

Plan a route. Decide where you're going before you hit the street. It's often a good idea to alert neighbors that they might be visited (or to find out if they're even going to be home). If there's nearby convalescent home or children's hospital, call ahead to see if you'd be welcome.

Pick a leader who can keep a group of adults and children organized both musically and geographically. Choose someone who has a loud voice and a sense of humor. The leader decides what song to sing, which house to visit, and which child can ring the next doorbell.

Before you leave, take a few minutes to practice--you'll warm up your voice, overcome any jitters, and leave with a feeling of modest self-confidence.

Have music in hand. Songbooks are a must. Few people remember the words to the third verse of "O Come, all ye Faithful' or other famous carols. For large groups, you could type out the lyrics and have copies made for each singer. To find songbooks, check music stores, bookstores, and libraries. Some churches will loan books to parishioners.

Encourage anyone with a musical instrument to bring it along. Off-key notes commonly occur, and an instrument can help unsure voices get back on track. You can also buy or borrow a few cassette tapes of favorite carols to plug into a portable player as a sing-along cue.

Light up. Ask guests to bring flashlights or candles. Candles have 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 by taping lengths of bright-colored tissue around the lens end. When the flashlight shines, the translucent tissue gives off a warm glow.

Or make a highly visible "sandwich board' by applying patterns of reflective tape on pieces of lightweight white cardboard. The tape reflects direct light brilliantly. You can find it at many automotive supply stores and bicycle shops; a yard of inch-wide tape costs about $2.

A band of reflective material for joggers makes a ready-to-wear item. It's sold in bicycle shops and running supply stores.

As carolers wander from house to house, they invariably overflow from sidewalks and stroll on the street. Think about asking people with flashlights to stay on the perimeter; light can define the edges of your group 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 follow the leader to warm up their voices. Jackets in light, bright colors will keep them warm and more visible outside at night

Photo: For safety in the dark, one caroler wears a white sandwich board with reflective tape (far left), another wears a jogger's chest band. Colored tissue paper glows at end of flashlight
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Dec 1, 1984
Words:648
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