It always seems like such a great idea to gather all your friends together for a big holiday party this time of year… but once you’ve actually sent out the invitations and you have to start planning and getting ready for your guests to arrive, the stress kicks in and many hosts start to second guess their joyous holiday gesture! So, here are my Top 10 ideas that will make throwing your holiday party a lot more enjoyable.
1) Send an evite or digital invitation through www.paperlesspost.com or cocdot.com. With all the running around that we do during the holidays, forget about dropping invitations in the mail and handwriting them (save that for your thank you notes!). Instead, with a few strokes of your keyboard, you will have a holiday inspired invitation ready for the masses to help you celebrate.
2) Create a theme for your party. You could throw a ‘Desserts Only Party’ that starts later in the evening so your bash is the last stop on the party schedule and all you have is a decadent display of holiday desserts for your guests to enjoy after they’ve eaten their way to your house! Or maybe you decide to host a ‘Wine and Cheese Party’, where you provide the wine and your guests are asked to bring their favorite cheese and crackers (or vise versa!). Maybe it’s even as simple as the always funny ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater Party’, where everyone wears the worst holiday sweater they can find and then votes on who’s outfit is the ugliest! Whatever you do, decide on a theme early, this will help to bring all the rest of the elements into play with time to spare.
3) Shop around your house first, then the holiday section at stores! The best place to shop is your house for various items you can easily re-purpose and use as holiday decor with a few minor tweaks. (CLICK HERE FOR A POST ALL ABOUT DOING JUST THIS!) After you have taken inventory of what you currently have, make a list, check it twice, and hit a local discount store to finish off your party shopping list!
4) Get organized right from the get-go, gather everything you need to set-up your party in one place. Storing all of your party supplies in the spare bedroom, a closet or even on the dining room table, will help you ensure that you have everything ready for the day of the party so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute to find what you need.
5) Use the food as decor and also a party favor! Be creative with the food you are serving and how you serve it because it can easily be used as decor and will allow for faster clean up at the end of the night, since everyone will have devoured all of the delicious treats you were serving. One year, I threw a holiday party for my friends and baked banana bread in holiday bread pans, wrapped them with cellophane and tied them with a bright colored bow! Then, I had them placed around the house, on the mantle, the coffee table, the buffet, and at the end of the night, each guest took one home and I killed two birds with one stone, decor and gifts all in one!
6) Create ambiance with lighting and music! Again, shop around your house, pull out all the cables, some twinkle lights, dim the lights and utilize your iPod to create the perfect playlist. You can also use Pandora or Spotify on your computer or the music stations that stream through your cable television. A little background music always helps to make for a festive holiday celebration.
7) Make your menu manageable! As the host, when you start to create the perfect holiday menu, remember that you should also be able to enjoy the evening as well. Don’t create a menu that will keep you cooped up in the kitchen, cooking and constantly replenishing food for the buffet. Finger foods and one-bite appetizers are always best to serve. Try to create a menu that requires minimal maintenance and if you need help, hire someone to lend a hand so that you can feel like a guest as well.
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8) What do you want to drink? When I throw a party at my house, I let my guests be their own bartender. For a small gathering of your friends, set up a table that acts as the bar, stock it with plenty of wine, soft drinks, alcohol, mixers or whatever you want to serve. If you really want to make it easy, choose to serve only wine and beer, or kick it up a notch by creating a festive holiday mixed drink with the recipe posted and ingredients labeled for use. Also, be sure to have soft drinks and water for those who are driving or just would rather not have alcohol. Hot cider and hot chocolate are also great to serve and will go a long way if you keep it in an insulated serving container.
9) Make clean up a snap! After all of your guests have gone home, the host is left with a memory and a mess! So, serve food items on recyclable festive plates, use paper napkins and throw the glasses in the dishwasher so that your clean up time is minimal. I think it is perfectly acceptable to use paper or plastic plates for this type of occasion, however, it is always nice to provide real glassware for the drinks. I went out and bought a couple dozen wine glasses and all purpose glasses that I keep stored in the box they came in, then, when I want to entertain, I pull them out and I am ready to party. Try IKEA or Target for budget-friendly glassware.
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10) Be MERRY! It is the holidays and you have worked hard all year long, so make sure that you get to have fun and enjoy yourself at your own party. It can be difficult to do, but if you plan head and are organized and not afraid to ask for help, there is no reason that you, as the host, should not be able to have a merry old time!