Something we’ve added to our Christmas parties that has been a big hit is playing handbells. My mother-in-law started doing this years ago, and we loved it. We wished for our own set, but they were too expensive. Then I happened upon them one year at Hobby Lobby. It is only a basic set (one octave, no accidentals), but along with the 40% off coupon they regularly email out every other week (sign up here), they were quite inexpensive.
Of course, it helps if you have some musical training, but really, not much is required. If just one person understands a little music, about 1 minute of training will suffice to have your group ringing out carols and begging to try it again.
Not only have we used them at our own Christmas parties, but I’ve used them at my December piano recitals to get the parents and siblings of my piano students involved, and we take them with us to visit an elderly home bound relative who can not longer walk or remember our names but loves playing carols with us on the bells. She’s pretty good, too.
The hard part is having music to play. I have taken a poster size pad of paper and written several carols out in color coded notes which match the bell that is to play them. Someone is the director and points to the note that is to be played next. Not all carols can be played on this simple set of bells, but here are a few if you would like to copy them.
The First Noel is two pages:
as is Joy to the World:
“We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas . . .”