Family eating Christmas dinner

How to Host the Best Holiday Party

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How to Host the Best Holiday Party

The holiday season brings many joys, such as time away from work, gift shopping, cheerful decorations, jolly parties, and delightful dinners with your friends and family members. If you already love hosting or want to host your first holiday gathering, the holidays are also a grand opportunity to get people together and showcase your party-planning skills.

Not sure where to start or what’s involved in planning the perfect holiday party? Let us help by taking you through some clever hosting tips and strategies.

1.  Start with seasonal invitations

No one will attend your holiday party, no matter how much you plan and sweat, unless they receive invitations well ahead of time. Any experienced party host will recommend that you send out invitations a month in advance, then send reminders (in-person, over text, or over email) a week ahead.

If you want to get as many people interested in your holiday festivities as possible, spruce up your invitations with holiday decorations, like taped candy canes, red paper, and a holiday photo of your family. Good-looking invitations are hints that your holiday party will also be stellar.

2.  Pick a holiday party theme

The best holiday parties are themed around specific things, like ugly holiday sweaters, popular holiday movie characters, or gingerbread houses. Pick a holiday theme – it can even be something simple like a color scheme – and your party will feel that much more thought-out and special to your guests.

Depending on the holiday party theme you choose to host, you can even recommend that your guests wear certain colors or costumes. Who doesn’t love a holiday party where everyone dresses up?

Once you pick your theme, make sure your décor matches it. You can purchase extra holiday décor if needed or take a look at the decorations you already have hanging around your house to see what you can use for the upcoming bash.

Woman basting turkey

3.  Don’t skimp on the feast

People go to holiday parties to eat, drink, and be merry. So, if you want to be the best holiday party host or hostess, don’t plan on making just enough bites for people to quiet their appetites. Go all out and provide an abundance of food and delicious beverages, plus ingredients for cocktails.  It’s smart to have a mix of small appetizers guests can enjoy while mingling and more substantial items for the main meal.

4.   Choose to host a potluck or chef’s surprise

Speaking of food, you should decide early whether you’re hosting a potluck dinner or if you’ll be handling all the cooking for the holiday feast. Holiday potlucks can be fun, and they take a lot of stress off your shoulders – all you have to do is make sure you have enough table and counter space for the things your guests decide to bring. Potlucks are also a great way to save money as the party host because you aren’t obligated to purchase all of the food yourself.

5.  If you do cook, start early

Decided to roll up your sleeves and show off your skills in the kitchen? If so, be sure to start your cooking a few hours before your guests arrive. Many holiday party staples, like roasted ham, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole, take several hours to cook, and if you want to be a good holiday party host, you don’t want your guests getting hungry or diving too deep into the snack candy before dinner.

If needed, enlist an assistant like a friend, family member, or one of the earliest guests to make sure the cooking goes smoothly while everyone else settles in and starts to socialize.

6.  Place food in social spots

When the food starts coming out, you can be sure people will tuck in! But don’t just arrange food and plates on your kitchen countertops. If you put all the food in the kitchen, the kitchen is where your guests will congregate (and hover in anticipation of delicious seconds).

Instead, put your delicious holiday delights in social areas like your living room on the coffee table, a small bar cart or table in the great room, or elsewhere. Not only does this holiday hosting tip keep people out of the kitchen while you work, but it also creates natural “water cooler” spots for chatting – your work friends will find it easy to converse just like they do at the office.

7.  Think of music beforehand

Are you sick of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You? Then you need to figure out your holiday music situation fast if you want to host the perfect holiday party! You can be sure that someone will fill the silence with over-played holiday songs if given a chance.

Set up or find a Spotify playlist with songs that match the vibe of your soiree. Stream the music to your television or hook up to your computer speakers. That way, you can control the music throughout the party, plus take suggestions from your guests with the best holiday music taste.

8.  Set up plenty of trash cans

Any party generates a ton of garbage, but holiday and holiday parties always seem to make even more. Keep paper plates, disposable cups, and napkins from piling up around your home by setting up several trash cans in strategic locations, like in your bathroom, in your hallways, and in the living room. As a bonus benefit, setting up plenty of trash cans will make cleaning up after the party much easier.

Just hosting a small holiday party? Be more environmentally friendly and use reusable plastic plates or regular dishes instead of paper ones. Then once guests are finished eating, just pop them in the dishwasher, and the cleanup is done!

Friends playing games at christmas dinner table.

9.  Plan some holiday party games!

Eating, drinking, and socializing might make up the lion’s share of time spent at your holiday party. But at a certain point, especially after dinner, your guests might want to switch things up and do something fun.

As the party host, offer a few fun holiday games, like board games, holiday-themed charades, or Monopoly (if you’re feeling a little mischievous, that is…). Party games bring people together and allow your guests to loosen up and enjoy even more time in your warm, welcoming home after they’ve run out of things to chat about.

10. Slow things down to signal the party’s over

All good things must come to an end, including your holiday party. But not every guest keeps an eye on the clock, especially when they’re having a good time.

One of the best holiday hosting tips is to signal the party’s over by slowing things down. Turn off a few lights, start playing slower songs and lower the volume of the music in the background, and begin packing up the food. Most guests will get the picture after a few minutes and politely excuse themselves.

Once everyone’s gone, you can take a deep breath, sink into your couch, and congratulate yourself – you’ve just hosted a successful holiday party. Give yourself a little break before you start thinking of what you’ll do next year!

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