December is in full swing and with less than two weeks until Christmas, I’m sure everyone’s preparations for various Christmassy events and activities are well on their way to being complete. One big Christmas event that many people love to do is host a holiday or Christmas party because what is the festive season without celebrating with the ones you love?
That being said, hosting a holiday party isn’t exactly an easy thing. There are so many things to consider and arrange. There is food to worry about, the theme and decorations, whether or not you have enough chairs for all the guests that have been invited. The list goes on and on. In fact, the more parties I attend and organise, the more I acknowledge how much of an art form it is. I mean just look at Martha Stewart, as one example. From the decor to the food, the drinks, the table centres and general ambience. The only way to describe it is magical. How are us mortals meant to compete with standards like that?
You might be asking what the secret is. Just a checklist? An excellent caterer? A million dollars? An army of elves? The truth is that all of those things can be a huge help, but most of us can only really make use of the first one (or two) because who knows of an army of elves willing to work on a party this close to Christmas? At the end of the day, though, the best place to start is by having a good checklist. The rest will follow naturally, and I will go over a few more aspects. You see, for some, it doesn’t matter whether or not they have a party, or whether everything looks okay, but for others (especially me) the holidays are a time of wonder and magic. You deserve to be able to convey that feeling into your holiday party without almost killing yourself in the process.
I’ve always loved hosting holiday parties, and it has been something I’ve done with my family for many years. There is really nothing better than a good get-together during the holiday season. Which is kind of the inspiration for my post today. I know how overwhelming even the thought of hosting a party can be before you’ve even gotten to the different parts of it but by the end of this post, all you should feel prepped and ready to host the ultimate holiday party!
Do you remember that checklist I mentioned earlier? You might want to start on those first, and you won’t just need one when you are planning a Christmas party. You’re actually going to need quite a few, and these little lists are going to be your saviour from now until the party is over. You will need a list of guests, and update it with who is coming and who is bringing what (if it is that kind of party). You’ll need a list of decor, a list of food and drink, a list of things you need to buy, any companies you are outsourcing if using any and a list of general to-dos. Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry this stage can be the most overwhelming, but once it’s complete, it will be your anchor.
The first thing you really need to figure out is who you are inviting to your party, and thus how many guests will be attending because everything relies on those numbers. Food, drinks, seating and more. It also determines how much work you’re going to need to do for your party. Think about everyone you want to invite, make a list and ensure to send out invitations with plenty of notice (two weeks is usually a good amount). You must also remember to keep track of RSVPs because this will determine how much food and drink needs to be bought/made (RSVPS are especially vital if you are getting a caterer but more on that in the food section). Knowing how many guests will also help you figure out your furniture arrangements and if you need to get extra seating, so make sure you tackle this part first in your Christmas party planning.
Some of you may be wondering why I have put theme here because surely the theme is evident. Christmas. Well I hate to break it to you, but Christmas is just the overarching umbrella – there are so many different Christmas themes to choose from that go beyond just putting up a Christmas tree and hosting a party in December. So, the second thing you will need to do is decide if you are going to have a theme. It is perfectly acceptable to just decorate your house how you usually would for Christmas and then invite people over for a Christmas party, but if you want to go a bit more festive than that, go for it! I’d highly recommend checking out Pinterest for inspiration, but once you know your theme, you’ll need to get cracking on finding any decor that needs to be bought/found/borrowed and decorating your house according to your theme.
Once you know the size and theme of your party, you can start figuring out what types of food you want. Do you need to plan a menu? Is this going to be a potluck? Or are you just going to say you’ve had enough cooking for the year and arrange a caterer?
In most cases, the food is the main event of the party. I mean think about any holiday event throughout the year. I’m betting the first thing you’ll think of is what kind of food they usually serve. If you are doing a proper Christmas feast, where you are doing most of the cooking, then that means a lot more planning and preparation, and I’d highly recommend getting one or two people to help out. Or if you are having a potluck, you just need to remember to arrange some scrumptious appetisers and drinks. On the drinks note, though, make sure to have some non-alcoholic options as well as alcoholic options. Kids will never say no to a hot chocolate station, and people who are driving might prefer to sip on fruit juice or a soft drink rather than wine.
For our Christmas parties, we’ve done a mix over the years. There have been some years where we have outsourced a caterer because there just isn’t enough time to cook. Most years we usually end up cooking everything ourselves (which is fun I won’t lie, but can be pretty chaotic if you don’t plan things out properly) but sometimes make it a bit like a potluck where we ask people to bring something. Starters, desserts and drinks are usually the best things to ask people to bring. Just remember though that when thinking about the food you will have to consider people’s dietary needs. For example, if you have one or two vegetarians coming, make sure that you aren’t just serving meat-centred entrees. You should also take note if anyone has allergies and just make people aware on the day if any dish could be a concern to allergens.
Do the inviting, buying and organising
This is the halfway point in my head. Most of the planning should be done so now it is time to translate what is sitting on paper into a Christmas Party. Make sure you have sent out all of your invitations (leaving enough time for RSVPs). Go out and buy any decor that you still need and start decking your halls. Arrange with any vendors/caterers/other companies to ensure that you won’t be stuck at the last minute having to scramble for a solution because something wasn’t confirmed. A little closer to your party date, go out and buy any food or ingredients you’ll be needing to create your wondrous feast. I’d suggest splitting shopping for food over two days because that way you can hunt for anything you didn’t find in round one on your second day. This is a great stage to start ticking a lot of things off those to-do lists you made, so try to get as many checked off as you can. Trust me, the more stuff you get done ahead of time, the fewer things you will be worrying about on the day.
The prep stage (part one)
The prep stage involves more than just cooking your party food and putting the drinks on ice. It includes cleaning your house, arranging your furniture, making sure you have enough chairs and tables and even enough cutlery and crockery.
Having a clean house is always a good idea when you have guests over, but you shouldn’t kill yourself to make sure everything is spotless, and you can eat off your floors. Clear all the clutter off the surfaces (you can put those things away properly after the party if you want) and wipe them down. Tidy up any bathrooms that guests might use. Give your floors a light sweep and a vacuum to pick up any extraneous crumbs/pet hair etc. to give your space an extra clean look. Now your house is ready to welcome everyone in for your Christmas celebrations.
For food preparation, I’d suggest either trying to get some stuff made the day before but otherwise starting early before your party. There is nothing more flustering than having all your guests arrive, and you are still struggling to finish all the cooking. Plan your cooking so that you can finish in time to welcome your guests, which also means you don’t have too many things to focus on.
Think through the basics (the prep stage part two)
If you have furniture that needs to be rearranged to accommodate your guests, now is the time to do that arranging. This is also the time to think about whether your basics are covered. Is there enough table space for everyone? Are there enough chairs? Or, here is a big one, do you have enough cutlery and crockery for all the people you have invited? For our parties, we’ve started outsourcing extra tables, chairs and crockery because while we have space, we just don’t have enough chairs or tables for all the people who come. It’s a good idea to figure out this stuff ahead of time just in case you need to beg, borrow or steal (no, don’t do that last one) or arrange with a company. Also make sure to note whether you need to pick up any of these things, or if they will be dropped off.
Being the hostess with the mostest
Now your party is here, and the last thing you have to do is be the host (or hostess) that you were meant to be. For any guests that haven’t been to your house before, I’d suggest giving them a quick tour so that they know where things are. Show them where the bathroom is, where they can leave any jackets and most importantly, where the food is. If you have a particular spot where kids are playing, you can show people where that is, and introduce new guests to everyone else, so people don’t stand about awkwardly without speaking.
Last but not least, all you need to do is make sure people know where they can find glasses, refill their drinks and get some food. Then, just mingle and enjoy. You want your guests to feel welcome, relaxed and to have a good time and the best way to do that is to lead by example. If you have a good time and enjoy your own party, everyone else will follow!
And so there you have it! I hope that you all enjoyed today’s blog post. If you are hosting a Christmas party soon, I hope that this was helpful to you and otherwise, I just hope you enjoyed the read. Let me hear how your Christmas parties went or are going, if I missed any tips or if you need any more advice in the comments section! I’d love to hear. As always, though, thank you for reading. Please don’t forget to hit that little like button, SHARE this post and subscribe so that you don’t miss out on my overload of holiday posts this month. Enjoy your parties, everyone!
P.S. Click the link above for a more in-depth guide when it comes to party planning 🙂
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx
Love this…thank you for a very interesting blog 😊
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Of course and thank you so much for reading 🙂
Ok Blondey, Yes wonderful tips and I think your family outdo Martha Stewart, BUT what about the cleaning up part, think that is the most work?
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Haha thank you so much Wendy! The cleaning up part isn’t usually so bad if you break it up and have a helping hand or two. I personally find it less work because is isn’t as stressful as the ‘before’ part of the party and if you just spend thirty minutes doing it properly it usually goes by pretty quickly