If you are hosting a holiday party this year, you know that this role can be so much fun and so stressful! Guests can tell if you are stressed and that is going to impact how much fun everyone has. Here are five tips to make hosting a holiday party simple.
1. Make A Holiday Party Budget and Stick To It
This is the no fun tip, we know. But it is super important that you set a budget and you stick with it! Hosting a party can be very expensive, so if you know what you have to spend it will help take the stress out of planning. There are a couple of ways to still throw a great party while planning on a budget:
- Ask your guests to contribute something – Personally, I love to bring food or my favorite beverage to a party. Asking your guests to bring an appetizer or beverage to share is a great way to watch your own budget. Having guests bring something will also help break the ice as people often ask who brought what.
- Don’t be scared to DIY, but know your limitations – These days, you can head to your local craft store and spend tons of money buying pre-made decor. Or you can have a little fun and make something yourself.
2. Don’t Try to Reinvent The Wheel (Unless You Want To)
If you host a party, chances are pictures of it will end up online. This can add copious amounts of stress to any party host to come up with good food that looks tasty and amazing decor. Don’t stress – you don’t need to come up with the newest and most creative decor on your own. All you need to do is get online and find something that speaks to you.
- FOOD – Even if you are a mediocre cook, you can have delicious food that your guests rave about. Use an old family recipe, or go online to find a highly rated recipe. My secret weapon for finding recipes is AllRecipes – simply jump on their website and search what kind of meal you are looking to make. Find the highest rated meal with the most reviews. I use this website every time I make food for my guests and they are always raving about what a wonderful cook I am…. HA – if only they knew that I can simply follow a recipe! [Extra Tip – Be wary of Pinterest recipes. Unless they are rated by users or you have tested the recipe ahead of time, you cannot guarantee the quality of the recipe. It is much safer to go to a website where people review recipes.]
- DECOR – Pinterest can make anyone a holiday party decor expert. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend you jump on and simply search “Holiday Party Decor DIY” – so many great ideas will pop up! One of my favorites this year is here.
Of course, if you are ready to take on the challenge of creating all your decor and food without the help of the internet – go for it! Just be sure to plan ahead so that you are not stressed come party day.
3. Cook Ahead of Time
I cannot stress this enough!! Pick food that can be made ahead of time and ready for guests whenever they are ready to eat. Nothing will stress you out more than scrambling to finish a meal last minute as guests are arriving or a meal that won’t be as delicious if guests run late. Additionally, you should get to enjoy the party and not be stuck in the kitchen the whole time. Soups and stews make great meals for holiday parties. Appetizers and desserts that can be made ahead of time and set out before guests arrive will make hosting a breeze.
[Extra Tip – Food that looks pretty makes your decorating responsibilities a lot easier! I love this Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Wreath Recipe from Taste of Home.]
4. Set Up A Self-Serve Cocktail Bar
You shouldn’t be trapped in the kitchen all night, but you also shouldn’t be stuck delivering drinks all evening either. By setting up a cocktail bar, guests can help themselves to drinks as they get thirsty. Be sure to have alcoholic and non-alcoholic options.
One of my favorite party planning tricks is to have a signature cocktail. Sometimes, I make it ahead of time in large batches and other times I put out instructions on how to make a drink. Having guests try to make their own signature drink will break the ice and get people having fun. Not sure where to start? We have pinned a few great holiday cocktail on our Holiday Pinterest board. My favorite for the holiday season is Spiced Wine. They serve it at the European Christmas markets, so nothing gets me into the holiday spirit more than a mug of hot spiced wine. Check out my favorite recipe here.
5. Keep Guests Entertained with Some Holiday Fun!
Nothing kills a holiday gathering faster than boredom. Guests finding a cozy spot on the couch – especially after a large meal – is the beginning of the end of your party. You need to encourage people to keep moving and having fun. Have no fear – this does not mean you need to play cheesy games (again, unless you want to). Instead, think of other fun activities that people can do if they want to throughout the party. For example – Design, Dining & Diapers suggests that you have a cookie decorating station at your holiday party. I did this last year for a group of friends, and it was a HUGE hit.
Another fun idea is to have everyone take a few moments to write Christmas cards to our men and women serving in the military. So many of them are not able to make it home for the holidays, so spreading a little cheer is a great way to get in the holiday spirit. Simply head to a store, grab some cards and have your guests write messages in them. Here are the details for where to send the completed cards.
Of course, if you like to play games, there are so many fun ideas for games. Again, check out our Pinterest board for more ideas!