Saving The Christmas Party: Turning Disaster into Fun

flooded kitchen

When things don’t go as planned it’s HOW you handle the situation that counts. Here’s how one couple saved their Christmas party after disaster struck!


Many years ago I was invited to a gathering at a friend’s ginormous home about a week before Christmas. This was their Christmas, and the last chance to see their friends, as they were leaving for a six-month trip the following afternoon. Several people were on their way into town from elsewhere, and most of us had already cooked and baked for the potluck part of the gathering. About an hour before the party was to start, disaster happened.

I think Murphy’s Law states that if you are expecting guests in one hour and everything is going very smoothly, it suddenly won’t. And that’s exactly what happened. A pipe burst open in their home! Water. Everywhere. Upstairs, downstairs – it was a HUGE cleanup.

Christmas party disaster requires improvising

So what did they do? Friends were moments away, food was prepared, this was it. So, they moved the entire gathering to their small apartment above their garage on the other side of their property, which luckily wasn’t currently being used. Did I mention it was a SMALL apartment, now tasked for entertaining 30 people? But our hosts made it work, and made the evening great!

Upon our arrival we were directed by a fun looking handmade cardboard sign to continue past the house to the party’s new location above the garage where they had moved their Christmas tree to greet us as we walked up the stairs. Wooden boards, covered with tablecloths, were set up on the bed in the sleeping nook so we could place our food in an organized buffet line.

Cozy, but fantastic

The closet door was taken off and presents for our ‘Dirty Santa’* game happening later in the evening were stored in there. Some decorations they had grabbed from the house were hung up to make the room festive.

Yes, it was a little ‘cozy’ for us, but we had a fantastic evening. The small space heaters they placed on the patio worked well enough to allow some of the party to extend outside without freezing. Most of us had to sit on the floor – but that was just fine with us.

christmas party dinner friends

Taking care of guests when parties go south

The only problem that remained was that a few of the out-of-town guests had planned to spend the night, not an easy thing to do in a space that simply had a sleeping nook with one futon-type bed. The friends insisted on finding hotels, or calling other friends nearby, but our hosts wouldn’t hear of it! They headed (waded!) back into their home and found blankets and pillows for

everyone, as well as a few sleeping bags and air mattresses which were in the garage, and set up a giant sleeping surface, thus creating a huge sleepover party! I only wish I had been an out of town guest so I could have stayed too, because I heard they had a blast.

When things go wrong, it’s about how you handle it

If it had have been any of the rest of us with that burst pipe, we would have likely cancelled the party and cried. But not our hosts! They made the best of a situation and gave us all a great night. I think of this story often and it reminds me that things can – and do – go wrong and it’s HOW you handle it that counts!

So if something happens that threatens to damage your holidays – take a deep breath and make it work!

Merry Christmas – may it go as smooth as possible!


*I mentioned ‘dirty Santa’ above – if you have never played this game make sure this is the year!

Everyone comes to the party with one wrapped gift and anonymously places it on a table. The game starts with everyone choosing a number – so if there are 15 people, there will be numbers from 1 to 15.

The person who drew # 1 opens any present. Number 2 goes next and they can either steal the already opened present from # 1 or choose to open another gift. If #2 steals the first person’s gift, then first person gets to unwrap another gift. The game goes on, with stealing and opening, until everyone has a gift. When I have played we usually make a ‘steal limit’ of 2 times per round.

Have fun!

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