Planning your very first holiday party can cause a wide mixture of emotions, from excitement to trepidation. Whether you volunteered to be the host of your family’s upcoming holiday party or you were selected by friends to plan an annual Christmas get-together, there are many things to plan and do in order to make the event a success. Here are a few tips for hosting a fun and memorable holiday party.
Decide on a Party Type
When it comes to holiday parties, there are many different types that you can plan. From formal dinner parties to casual cocktail parties, it is important for you to decide what type of party you want to host. If you like the idea of sitting down to a nice dinner without any children present, a formal holiday dinner party may be the best option for you.
If, on the other hand, you want to create a more casual and relaxed atmosphere, a casual cocktail party may be a more appropriate choice.
Plan Your Guest List and Invitations
As soon as you decide on a party type, begin planning your guest list and preparing your invitations. In addition to deciding who you want to invite, consider whether or not you want to enforce age restrictions. Do you want to invite entire families to your party, or would you rather exclude children 12 and under from attending? If you decide to place age restrictions on your party attendees, be sure to include the details in your invitations so that your guests know in advance if they will need to make babysitting arrangements.
If possible, try to get your party invitations in the mail at least three weeks in advance. Remember that the holidays are typically very busy for most families, so you may have poor attendance if you send your invitations after everyone’s holiday calendars are already full.
Don’t be afraid to delegate some responsibilities to others. If you have close friends or family members who wouldn’t mind helping you plan your party, take advantage of their willingness. It is easy to underestimate how much work goes into choosing a holiday venue, sending out invitations, cooking food or appetizers, and planning activities for the party.
Asking for help is key to ensuring that you don’t become overwhelmed. Parties also tend to go more smoothly when different people are in charge of very specific tasks.
Incorporate Festive Decorations
Festive holiday decorations can completely transform the atmosphere of your party. You don’t have to go crazy, but if you have a Christmas tree or two that you can set up in advance, do so. You should also have holiday-themed centerpieces on each table if you plan on serving dinner or appetizers.
If you need a little help with your holiday decorations, invite friends and family to help you. You can even involve kids in the process by allowing them to make cute snowflake decorations from colored paper, then hanging the decorations from the walls or ceiling at your party venue.
Choose Age-Appropriate Activities
One of the most important responsibilities you have as a holiday party host is to keep your guests entertained. Be sure to choose age-appropriate activities that are fun and inclusive for all of your guests. If you plan to have kids at your party, set up a craft corner where they can create holiday cards, Christmas ornaments, or homemade gifts for their family members.
Plan white elephant gift exchanges, ugly sweater contests, or talent shows for the adults. If you’re hosting a family party, you might consider collecting pictures from various family members that highlight the fun activities they have participated in over the past year. Then, create a slideshow with all of the pictures and display it during your party.
Another great way to get into the spirit of the holidays is by completing a service project as part of your party. From tying a quilt for a homeless shelter to going on a shopping spree for a family in need, there are practically endless service projects you can do during your party.
No holiday party is complete without something delicious to eat, but that doesn’t mean you need to prepare a complicated 5-course meal. Since cooking food for large groups of people can be very time-consuming, it is important for you to realistically consider what type of food to serve.
If your party is scheduled during normal dinner hours, it is important for you to make sure that your guests don’t go hungry. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you might decide to create the entire meal on your own. However, having a potluck-style meal where everyone brings their own dish can take a lot of stress off your shoulders. You might also consider catering if you have the budgetary flexibility to do so.
If your party is not scheduled during a major mealtime, having some simple finger food appetizers and desserts is all you need to worry about.
Remember that the most important part of hosting a holiday party is enjoying the company of friends and family. If you prepare as much as you can in advance, you will have an easier time relaxing and joining in the party festivities.