‘Tis the season for holiday parties! From family gatherings and office shindigs to celebrations at your kids’ school and cocktails with friends, there’s an occasion for every group in your social circle. But even though your calendar is probably filling up fast, consider adding one more date and hosting a get-together for your running buddies. Not only is it a fun way to spend time with your pals off the track and out of your workout clothes, but it can also be a welcomed break from all the heavy food and drinks of all the other parties (although if you want to pop the champagne and put out some pigs in a blanket, go for it!). Here are a few ways you can celebrate the season with your favorite fellow runners:
You know the drill—everyone draws the name of someone in your group and shops for a special gift. Think about something they really need or have admired on someone else, or chat with other people in your group to figure out what your runner would really love. Let everyone try and guess who gave what; instead of signing your name on the tag, jot down a fake name with something you’re infamous for in your group, like “Love, Tiny Bladder Tina” or “Seasons Greetings from Neon Nancy.”
Try one of these spins on the traditional cookie swap. Instead of bringing a couple dozen of your famous snickerdoodles, pick up enough of your favorite little pieces of running gear for everyone at the party. Think: fun shoelaces, your go-to granola bar, travel-size face wipes, or no-slip headbands. Hand them out during the party and everyone will go home with some tried-and-true products. Or if you’d rather go the homemade food route, have everyone else make a batch of their favorite protein bar or energy balls and let everyone make up a plate to take home and snack on all week.
Also known as a white elephant exchange, the idea is to have everyone wrap a small running-related gift and bring it to the party. Set a spending limit and keep the gifts in that price range; you can suggest spending 20 bucks or less and have plenty of options, like headphones, hats, or socks. Then follow the usual rules of a Yankee swap and take turns choosing gifts and fighting it out for the best one.
If you have gift-buying burnout, consider putting your cash towards a local race registration instead. This time of year, there are countless themed races to participate in. From hot cocoa 5ks to reindeer runs, if you have a favorite holiday fixture, chances are there’s a race for you. Sign up for a race with your best workout buddy or running group and make plans to celebrate with peppermint lattes (or seasonal beers if it’s not too inappropriately early) afterwards.