Put your party-planning skills into practice at the one time of year that everyone’s in the mood for merriment. Sure, you’re busy bustling gifts around and trimming the tree, but sharing the spirit of the season with your friends and family is a joyful way to remember the holidays. So pick your people, make a menu and be gracious with your group. Here are our holiday party hostess tips to ensure that your party will be on people’s minds long after the holiday lights turn off.
Managing the Menu
Set a cooking timeline and prep your meal the night before. Knowing when to put the food in the oven enables you to make a seamless transition from guest-greeter to chef. Put out a cheese plate, fresh crudites and some bruschetta before your guests arrive, and set several platters around so guests feel comfortable eating while chatting. Present a simple festive dessert on unusual dessert plates, in vintage-inspired cupcake wrappers or atop a holiday cake plate.
Keep the Drinks Flowing
Highlight one signature drink the entire evening. If your party is Christmas themed, offer a candy cane cocktail or eggnog martini. Have plenty of red and white wine on hand, along with soft drinks and water. When dessert rolls around, bring out the decaf coffee and tea so your guests have a better chance of seeing sugar plums dance in their heads all night.
Treat Your Guests to Tunes
Create a playlist of classic holiday music from your mobile phone and put the playlist through speakers in your living room. If you want the music minus the holiday merriment, select tunes that your guests as a group would enjoy. Keep the music upbeat, catchy and eclectic, and weave a few new artists and songs into the mix. Listen to your entire repertoire beforehand so you’re not caught off guard with inappropriate lyrics or a deafening guitar solo during dinner.
Grace Goes a Long Way
There’s always one guest who insists on helping you in the kitchen — so let her. If you plan a job beforehand for her to do, such as empty the dishwasher, refresh drinks or set the table, she’ll likely help you pave the way to a good party instead of being in the way of one. Remain calm if the crust burns, be appreciative that your friends showed up and keep flexibility at the forefront when a guest brings an additional person. Also, remember to thank anyone who brings a gift and walk your guests to the door when they leave.
References & Resources
Martha Stewart: Christmas Drinks
Emily Post: Party Etiquette Tips for Hosts and Guests
Every Day With Rachel Ray: Easy Tips for Hosting a Great Party
Lauren Conrad: Party Planning: How to Host the Perfect Dinner Party
MPLS St. Paul: 8 Tips for Making the Perfect Party Playlist