Don’t stress out about hosting a holiday party. With some organization and a few tricks/tips, you can have a party that everyone can enjoy…even you!
- Cocktail party or a sit-down dinner? The first thing to think about when planning a party is the format. A sit-down dinner is more formal, but intimate and usually much smaller. A cocktail party generally serves appetizers and cocktails, and is perceived as less formal but allows you to accommodate many more people.
- Set a theme. If you’ve already decorated your home for the holidays, then you are already 90% done. If you haven’t decorated, choose a simple gold or silver theme that could translate into other parties/holidays throughout the year. Something like a gold table runner can be paired with ornaments during the holiday season, whites at Easter and oranges and browns at Thanksgiving. Versatile decoration choices create less storage issues, are more cost effective and can simplify your party planning.
- Give a warm welcome. Clear off any coat racks or closets for guests’ coats and purses. If you don’t have a space large enough, plan to have a space like a bed ready for guests’ belongings.
- Make simple, yet impressive food ahead of time. Some of the most impressive meals I’ve ever served at dinner parties have been some of the simplest; like crab legs, shrimp or ham. Try to plan as much as you can to made ahead of time. And don’t discount the simple elegance of a nice cheese plate with a variety of crackers.
- Keep organized with a list and a plan. I like to make a menu and a shopping list. Then, I plan what I’ll make the day before and what needs to wait until before the party. I even set out my table the day before so I know exactly what will fit on the table (and hopefully ensure I won’t forget to set anything out…again).
- Don’t forget the music. With streaming audio choices like Spotify, YouTube or iTunes, you don’t even need to make a playlist. While you’re getting the house ready for the party skim through a couple stations and find one that fits the vibe of your party. Then set it as a favorite and simply press the button before your company arrives.
- Create a signature cocktail in a batch. This is one of my favorite tricks because making cocktails one at a time can mean that you’re stuck behind the bar the entire party. I like to find a cocktail that I can make in a large batch and guests can serve themselves. I especially like making sangria because it’s better if you make it a day ahead – just add the soda water before serving.
- Create or fill your bar cart. If you already have a bar cart, then just make sure it is fully stocked with nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages, napkins, glasses, straws and ice. If you don’t have a bar or bar cart, then set aside a space like an island, kitchen table or side table that becomes your separate bar station.
- Have extra seating ready. While people will want to mingle, having extra seating on hand and perhaps set up against walls or strategically positioned around gathering spots will help to make your guests more comfortable.
- Slow down and have fun. Often times the host is so wrapped up in preparing and making sure guests are cared for that they forget to have fun. That’s why preparation is so important, if you want to have fun…have things prepped or finished by the time guests arrive and you’ll be able to enjoy yourself.
What are your holiday party planning tips?