Is it your turn to host a Christmas party this year? Here are some tips on how to host a stress-free holiday party — especially if this is your first time doing it.
#1: Have a theme
I find this is a simple, but overlooked aspect of planning a Christmas party. Having a theme actually allows the whole party to fall into place without causing confusion and headache later. For example, will you be planning a sit-down dinner or a buffet-style atmosphere? Having this crossed off your checklist first will determine how casual or fancy you wish to go.
Do you want to use silverware, or plastic forks, knives and spoons?
Do you want to make a turkey or a crock pot favourite?
Do you dress up, or dress down?
Will you prepare all the food yourself, or ask everyone to bring along a dish or baked goods?
Having a theme will also determine the mood of the party. Obviously an “ugly sweater” Christmas party will be a casual, fun, laid-back atmosphere. So have an idea on Christmas games to play afterwards (i.e. see these awesome “Minute to Win it” game ideas for Christmas).
Party theme ideas:
#2: Know how to properly set a table
If you are planning a casual buffet, who cares? — just have the cutlery on hand, but if you are doing a traditional dinner and you are unsure on how to “properly” set a table, check out the graph below:
When you are sure that you have this part figured out, be sure to know how to creatively decorate the table to make it appealing to the eye and holiday festive. See our Pinterest board: Christmas Gift Ideas/Decorations for some great holiday table decorating ideas!
#3: Prepare a menu ahead of time based on your guests likes/dislikes
This isn’t so important if you are asking each guest to bring along a dish to the party — there will then be enough variety to go around, plus you will already know that they like based on that they brought it along themselves. However, if you plan on going fancy, there is nothing wrong with asking your guests their likes/dislikes/allergies and sensitivities in advance. Whether this be a section on an invitation to send back, or via a phone call or quick email. For example, be sure to have some vegetarian options or (if you can) prepare more than just one type of meat.
Also, save yourself some cooking stress by preparing appetizers well in advance. This will save you time and energy the day of the Christmas party. Here are some suggestions of some great freezable appetizers:
Cheese and crackers. Click here for a great Christmas cheeseball recipe.
Crab Cakes. Click here for Martha Stewart’s recipe.
Ravioli Bites, Sausage Balls, Crab Wedges. Click here for information on preparing all three of these.
Spinach Artichoke Dip. Click here for the recipe.
On foods that you can, try to have most of it prepped ahead of time. Any foods that you have to make the day of the party, have the food prep done the evening before (i.e. onions diced).
#4: Clean your house!
Another reason to do as much food preparing the day before is because you will need to set aside time to tidy-up. Unless you can delegate certain tasks to your spouse or kids for assistance, you will definitely need adequate time to vacuum, mop up and organize and pick up toys (if you have kids). Make sure your bathroom is spic and span and the seats are pet hair free!
#5: Gift exchange
What’s Christmas without giving — and of course receiving something special? If you decide to have a gift exchange, it’s a good idea to set aside a budget for everyone to follow. This will avoid any uncomfortable issues or embarrassment if you feel your gift doesn’t compare to the extravagance of another. After you have established that, there are many different “types” of gift exchanges that you can take part in:
Probably the most popular method of gift exchanging, you draw each other’s names out of a hat. Without revealing who drew whom, each must get their assigned giftee a present and give it to them “secretly.”
White Elephant Gift Swap:
You will need approximately 4-6 people. This is meant to be a laugh. Each brings something completely useless you had lying around at home. All gifts are placed in a central area where all participants can see them. Then, everyone draws a number to decide the order in which they’ll select gifts. The lucky individual who draws number one chooses the first gift and opens it. Number Two can choose either to open another gift, or steal Number One’s gift. Number Three gets to open anew or steal from Two or One, and so forth. The game ends after the last gift is opened.
Yarn is attached to presents around the room — the yarn is weaved in and out of furniture etc. You pick an end to the yarn and follow it until you reach the gift its attached to.
#6: Decorate the house
Get into the holiday spirit and create the mood by decorating your house for your event. Add your own special touch by personalizing it, or decorating based on your “theme”. Deck the bannister, have on display holiday lanterns and candles, deck out your fireplace mantle, add holiday colours to napkins, seat covers and centerpieces, and don’t forget the exterior of the house! Have out your wreath, Christmas lights on, and even decorate a bird bath if you have one. Obviously, have your tree visible and nicely decorated.
Check out this video for some Christmas party decorating ideas:
Lastly, relax and have fun with your Christmas party! Play some Christmas music and take a breather. When you are relaxed, your guests will naturally enjoy themselves a lot more.
Check out our two boards on our Clifton Hill Pinterest account for any further information on anything I mentioned, plus many more additional Christmas-inspired posts: Holiday Recipes & Christmas Gift Ideas/Decorations.
Have a very Merry Christmas!