FORT RILEY, Kan. -- The evening was merry, jolly and bright during the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Holiday Party Dec. 21 at the Warrior Zone. The party was the first in a few years for BOSS to celebrate the holiday season with Soldiers not traveling or returning home.

"In the past few years, BOSS hasn't done a lot for single Soldiers who are staying here for the holidays either because they can't or something is stopping them from going home, so we've reinvigorated the program to allow for this to happen and what this really is, is a chance for camaraderie, fellowship and to have a good time," said Spc. Delano Vankuren, president of BOSS.

Vankuren, who did not return home for the holidays himself, said the party was about getting the Soldiers out of the barracks to enjoy the holiday season and show them a festive, fun time could still be found.

"It's important to remember that we do have individuals who would like to go home but can't go home, so therefore (we need to) get them out of their room and around friends to see that this isn't so bad," he said.

Pfc. Kody Seiler, member of BOSS and a Soldier in the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, agreed with this idea, adding he wished something had been done like this in past years too.

"It's nice for the Soldiers who aren't going home for Christmas like myself," he said. "It's just so they have somewhere to go so they experience holiday fun and all that Christmas stuff."

The party featured contests including gingerbread house building, ugly sweaters and several trivia games. Karaoke, movies, 30 door prizes, a candy cane estimate game and video gaming tournament were also available. Free food, like candy, cookies and a nacho and hot chocolate bar rounded out the treats.

Seiler said the turnout was great, but most who participated weren't there for the party itself, they had come to use the facility and found it as an early holiday gift.

"I think it's a nice surprise," he said. "If you come here enough, you walk in, it's just the Warrior Zone again and it's the same old stuff, but if you walk in and there's Christmas activities going on, there's more fun stuff to do that's holiday related and it's fun, a nice surprise."

Vankuren said the party would not have been possible without the support of and planning by fellow BOSS members.

"A lot of the information was given to me by my team," he said. "I got a lot of the energy from them to put this on. They are really the masterminds and energy holders behind it."

As for where the team came up with ideas, Seiler said they pulled from a little of everything, including family traditions.

"We were thinking about like what people would find fun in regards to something like this," he said. "Some of them we took from a holiday get together that we had with our garrison, the trivia game, we got that from our first sergeant and I got the candy cane thing from my own family because that's what we do. It's really just what would be something they would like and appreciate."