11 Free Fonts for Clever Holiday Entertaining

Greetings, December party season! This year we welcome your festive embrace even as we endure the drunken antics of crazy coworkers, the blow-up decorations of loony neighbors, the sour smirks of sullen store clerks, and the unpredictable demands of visiting in-laws. How can we stay cheerful with those barbarians at our gate? Simple: By boldly entertaining our way through the holiday whirl, creating invitations and miscellaneous printed items for 11 distinct types of parties, each using a different stylish-but-free font to set the mood and dial up the charm.

(For links to all of these free font downloads in one convenient place, see our Eleven Free Fonts for Holiday Entertaining collection.)

Party 1: Face the Music and Dance

First up, a waltz party for friends who have remained light on their feet even as the economy bounced like a Super Ball. Their grace under fire inspires us to create party goods laced with Chopin Script, the swirling design by Canadian Claude Pelletier. His creation will bring the delicacy of Copperplate penmanship to our invitations and souvenir dance cards. Watch with awe, messieurs and madames, as we type 'Holiday Mixtape 2010' in a style that makes homemade party favors look like a million.

Download Chopin Script

Party 2: Two Thumbs Up for Local Heroes

A thumb-wrestling smackdown followed by a chili feast is perfect for the crew that made our dogs howl all year long. For the siren-blowing, fire-fighting folks of SFFD Mission Station Five, we turn to Mister Pablo, a Mexican Blackletter font by Australian designer Nicholas Gross. Our invitation to these lucky luchadores will look sizzling in Gross's beautifully graphic font, and we'll warm our guests' hearts with classy paper certificates that honor the iron-digited victors.

Download Mister Pablo

Party 3: Send in the Clowns

How to celebrate a band of riotous coworkers who filled our year with practical jokes? Time for an awe-inspiring circus shebang in our cubicle! We'll invite everyone using Teatral, the Big Top font by designer Tobias Sommer. In fact, we'll print the invitation on business-size envelopes, fill them with custom-made drink tickets, and leave one on each invitee's chair. Yeah, and when the merry pranksters turn in those tickets, we'll reward them with a classic shot of seltzer. Hmm, perhaps there should also be pie...

Download Teatral

Party 4: A Valhalla Buffet

Growing teenagers appreciate a bountiful touch at the holidays. For the horde next door (and their parents), we'll serve up a smorgasbord of sandwich fixin's, which we'll announce using PR Viking, Peter Rempel's ode to the sons of Odin. This download includes an alternative font set with a range of runic symbols that will play well as mysteriously great souvenir buttons. We'll pin each guest with a fine example of Nordic party gear and even throw in a set of Valkyrie-themed sandwich picks if they promise to turn their cell phones off at the door.

Download PR Viking

Party 5: Vintage Chic

The retro crowd is easy to please with Black Jack, Ronna Penner's sophisticated brush script. Penner mates Mad Men advertising moxie with 21st-century technology to make us look hip, indeed. We'll invite the gang over for cocktails and gift each one with a custom set of ad-trivia cards. The slogan "He's got Go-Power!" is associated with what '60s brand? Nope, not Ex-lax! We're talking about General Mills' Cheerios (specifically, its cartoon spokesfigure, the Cheerios Kid). Our guests will sip and sigh as they coolly kiss 2010 goodbye.

Download Black Jack

Party 6: Caroling in the Dark Garden

Here we are in bleak December, and that rap-rap-rapping at our door signals the arrival of the all-in-black entourage. Snuff the nightbird! Pass the absinthe! They must have received our Poe- perfect invitations set in Romance Fatal Serif, a bouncy yet sinister font by Juan Casco. This ironically happy font will also add gravitas to the "Welcome Winter Solstice" banner we plan to hang in the foyer and to the party favors we'll be handing out as midnight draws nigh. This year we're giving our melancholy pals new calling cards set in Mr. Casco's delicious concoction. Will our friends our fête deplore? Quoth the (font) maven, "Nevermore!"

Download Romance Fatal Serif

Party 7: Naysayers Welcome Here

The humbugs (and humbug helpers) among us won't be able to evade the spirit of the season after a cartoon viewing party headlined by Mickey's Christmas Carol. We'll invite everyone to gather round with cheer-inducing invitations set in Justin Callaghan's Waltograph, an iconic font loosely based on Uncle Walt's signature. The designer is dizzy for Disney, and from the bottom of our goofy hearts we thank him for helping us make our event special with nametags for everyone. "Hello, my name is Scrooge McDuck" will look especially brilliant in this iconic brush script.

Download Waltograph

Party 8: Making New Friends

A party for party crashers? Sure, why not! We'll just put a big sign on the front door spelling out "Welcome, Stranger" with Predatoric 2, the alien movie font by Gene Buban. Anyone seriously hunting for a good time deserves a big howdy set in Buban's larger-than-life style--and when it's time for our new buddies to go home, we'll just type the self-destruct code hidden in the characters []{}.

Download Predatoric 2

Party 9: A Royal Vision Through a Royal Pane...

This year we'll treat the in-laws regally with an invitation to a small dinner party, where we'll serve up courses fit for a monarch and where everyone can take home a souvenir menu set in RM New Albion. Ray Meadows' font will be instantly recognizable as the classic choice of their majesties' scribes. If all goes well, our guests will murmur "We are amused," and peace will prevail in the realm at least until the annual summer reunion.

Download RM New Albion

Party 10: Glue Guns Loaded and Ready for Action

For our crafty comrades, we must hold a make-it and take-it gathering with plenty of glitter choices. Nothing says handmade half as well as En Origami, a display font by Naveen Chandru. We'll use his design to create the invitation as a staple-bound DIY zine full of projects. En Origami's characters fold all over themselves and still manage to remain playfully legible, not unlike our by-hand buddies.

Download En Origami

Party 11: Everyone Is Welcome Under Our Table

Quite a few lovers of the vine reside in our neck of the woods. They'll be quite pleased when we uncork a holiday blind-tasting party. We'll announce this gathering using Bat Country, a truly gonzo font by British designer Laurie Jackson. Before the guests arrive, we'll disguise the bottles--in brown bags, of course--and set out the glasses along with screamingly perfect souvenir rating cards. Then we'll stand aside and let our guests sniff, swirl, and swallow (sorry: no spitting in the sink at this soirée) until the last drop is gone.

Download Bat Country

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