I’ve done quite a bit of holiday hosting in my life, and even when it’s a relatively small gathering, it can still be a lot of work. The key to hosting a fun and stress-free holiday gathering is planning ahead.
Whether it be a chic invitation, delicious food, fun entertainment, and festive cocktails, there are a variety of elements that can help you pull together your very best holiday party. Here are several tips to help you prep for those parties ahead of time.
Set a Date
The holiday season is a very busy time o year. To help narrow down the ideal holiday party date, you’ll want to get the party date on the calendar early.
Put Together a Guest List and Invitations
Put together a list of people to invite and decide how you’re going to get the word out (you can send an invitation via email or post, or you can call guests). We suggest inviting your guests at least three to four weeks in advance if not sooner, as calendars fill up fast around the holiday season.
Now that you know what type of party you’re going to host and you have a guest list, it’s time to pick what you’ll serve. If you’re having a dinner party, or cocktail party choose which recipes you want to use and create your own holiday menu. If you’ve decided to host a cocktail party, put together a list of the appetizers you’d like to serve. We suggest using recipes that can be made in advance such as this Easy Charcuterie Board, which will save you time and energy on the day of the party.
Decide on Decorations
With all the energy you put into planning don’t overlook the importance of taking time to make your home shine with a creative touch. Go festive with holiday-specific decor or keep it classic with timeless decorations placed throughout the home to make it really sparkle.
Set up a separate station (in another room or area if possible) for drinks. Stock it with both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverage choices, ice, cocktail napkins, and appropriate glassware.
Create Music Playlist and Fun Activities
There’s no party without the perfect playlist. A great playlist will set the festive tone and allow your guests to feel at ease. It’s an important element that can either make or break your event. After the dinner and drinks, it’s a good idea to take part in a fun activity that will bring the group together. My family loves classic board games, cards, and dominoes.
Prepare for unexpected
Having a few snacks and bottles of wine on hand at all times means you’ll be ready to handle any and every surprise—including unexpected drop-in guests—the holiday season throws your way. Those impromptu gatherings sometimes are the best ones. I always have an assortment of veggies and some kind of dip (usually hummus), so I can easily throw together a simple crudité. I also almost always have some cheese, like aged Gouda, and a soft cheese, like Brie. Having pretzels, peanuts, and cookie dough on hand is also a great idea. Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh baked cookies, especially during the holidays.
Keep in mind that the holidays are all about spending quality time with your closest friends and family. The evening of the party, remember the number one rule of hosting: relax and enjoy yourself. Now that you’re armed with the best holiday entertaining tips around, it’s time to plan a holiday party of your own!