The Last Noel started when Steve and I were newlyweds and hosted an open house in our tiny neo-Victorian townhouse in Reston, Virginia. It was before Christmas then. A few years later we lived in Colorado, had a baby and traveled over Christmas, so the party was moved to the general vicinity of New Year's. But there are always competing events on New Year's, so it made sense to move it back a little more to the week after. When we moved out here 11 years ago, we had 3 kids and found it utterly impossible to get a party together before Christmas OR New Year's. The Last Noel was born to use up the leftover Christmas cookies and candy, but it's also an excuse to enjoy all the Christmas things we never had a chance to sit and enjoy during the "official" season, and to get our overlapping circles of friends together at least once a year.
We had plenty of food, enough for leftovers. About 70 people came, most of them kids. Apparently playing hide-and-seek in the dark in our muddy backyard is the best game ever. Numerous pairs of shoes were ruined in the process, including two that I had just bought the day before. (The pink-and-white ones were successfully laundered; the owner of the black ones insisted he prefers them filthy).
It's a good time, but it's also good to take the day after and do nothing, just to recover.