So You’re Hosting a Holiday Party–Now What?

You can deck your halls and rock around the Christmas tree with this party planning guide.

Is it your turn to host the infamous holiday party? Be it with family, friends, co-workers or classmates, you want to create long-lasting memories. But where do you start? This ‘how to throw a Christmas party’ guide takes the guess work out of everything yuletide and shares ideas to eliminate stress on you and your budget by thinking strategically and planning ahead.

1. Decide on a theme

It doesn’t matter if you’re hosting one or 100, set a tone that will achieve maximum holiday feel-good status. A great place to start is thinking what everyone has in common:

Celebrating with girlfriends? Try a cocktail tasting party where guests bring their own cocktails (with and without alcohol).

Getting together with a large group? Try a movie theme and show holiday favorites while serving a smorgasbord of popcorn. Or if your group is smaller, try a progressive dinner party.

Inviting kids? Try a winter wonderland cookie decorating party with any of these holiday cutout cookie recipes.

2. Create to-do lists

Creating a legendary holiday party means being prepared and creating a to-do list. Rather than get overwhelmed, break down and answer these questions:

Where should I hold the party? This is possibly the most important part when learning how to throw a Christmas party. Home is where the heart is, but sometimes you need more space. If you’re inviting groups from school or work, it may make sense to utilize an on-site community space or hold your gathering at a larger hall or restaurant.

Whom should I invite? And how do I invite them? Go back to your theme to identify your guest list. With vast methods of communication readily available, be sure to determine if printed or electronic invites are best to reach your attendees, and send invitations at least three weeks ahead of time.

What is the best day and time to have the party? The holidays are busy for everyone, but planning ahead increases the chances for more guests to attend. Here are some stress-free ideas if you’re thinking of a brunch theme.

Should I serve food? If so, how much? Check out our helpful guide to know how much food to prepare for your guests.

Should I offer party games? Games and activities can liven up any party. Here’s a fun idea to create gingerbread houses for all the Hansels and Gretels at your party.

How do I keep my home smelling nice? When you’re hosting a lot of people at your house, sometimes you need to a little odor control to keep guests focused on the fun and not the foul. From the bathroom to other main areas of your house, there are lots of great natural air fresheners you can use to keep your home smelling “ah” instead of “ew”.

Do I give guests a gift? This is the age old questions when you’re figuring out how to throw a Christmas party. If you are one to offer tokens of appreciation, a tasty option is offering any of these delicious cookies to give guests in cute to-go boxes. If gifts are a theme, and you don’t have a lot of cash, you may want to think about a fun white elephant gift exchange party.

Using these questions as a guide will help you pull off the perfect holiday party, done your way with all your personal touches!

3. Stick to the budget and take inventory

Don’t know how to throw a Christmas party without blowing your budget? Because the best parties aren’t necessarily the most expensive, you don’t need to break the bank. Before buying anything, take stock of what you already have and create an inventory and budget. If you plan ahead, and trust your skills, you can wow everyone and feel good knowing you took the time to make your party special. Here are some thoughts on sticking to your budget:

Create a spreadsheet. Itemize decorations and ingredients you already have on hand. This will save you from duplication and wasted time and money.

Consider a potluck style party. When you have more spirit than cash, throwing a potluck holiday party is a great way for guests to showcase their culinary skills and create an even greater community vibe without spending a lot of money. Here are some tasty and easy one-dish potluck ideas any guest could manage.

Make giftable centerpieces. Guests create a take-home centerpiece by filling clear glasses or bowls with combinations of ornaments, holiday paper, tinsel, pine twigs, holly or any other festive holiday decor. They may place it anywhere and remind them to take it home at the end of the night. A great money-saving idea I use all the time is going to local thrift stores to stock up on decorations. To jump start more creative ideas, check out these whimsical holiday decorating tips.

4. Cook ahead of time

Preparing your menu ahead of time means less time in the kitchen and more time mingling with guests. Some ideas include easy-to-prep quiches, easy and tasty breads for guests to nibble and savor, slow cooker dishes that stay warm throughout, and party punches that knock it out of the park. If you’re feeling even more ambitious, these mouth-watering party dishes are a must.

With a little prep work now, you can create a memorable holiday party while saving money and stress, and make time for what matters this holiday season with friends and family. Now you know how to throw a Christmas party!

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