The holidays are festive time of year to throw a gathering, but it can seem daunting trying to pull it all together. Between the invitations, food, beverages and party etiquette, you may be wondering where you need to begin. Here is a simple check list for hosting the perfect seasonal party.
Choose a Party
The first tip for planning a successful party begins with deciding what type of party you may be interested in hosting. There are a variety of options to choose from such as cocktail, brunch, intimate dinner, buffet, cookie exchange and appetizers and dessert.
Pass out the Invitations
Once you’ve decided on the theme, you can select a date and pass out your invitations. Invitations can either be store bought, designed on the computer or sent out via email. Just be sure to put an RSVP reminder so you can gauge how many guests are going to be attending.
Choose a Menu
Select a menu that allows you to participate in the party instead of being chained to the stove for the night. The holidays are a time for traditions, so you shouldn’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring a dish to pass. Guests will love to bake and bring their family favorites such as shrimp bisque or holiday brownies.
Decorations and Music
Set the mood for your gathering by decorating your home with candles, holiday decorations and the scent of cinnamon and gloves filling your home as your guests walk through the door will create a festive, warm and welcoming environment. Have classics like Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat “King” Cole playing softly as guests come in to set the mood, but be sure to turn up the music later to kick off the dancing. Don’t forget the strategically placed mistletoe.
Greet your Guests
As your guests arrive, make sure to greet them at the door and take their coats. Make the proper introductions to those that aren’t familiar with each other, you would be surprised how many hosts forget to do this, if you neglect to do so, it can make some guests feel alienated and unimportant.
Serve Seasonal Beverages
Depending on the type of party that you are hosting, you’ll want to mix together a batch of your favorite party beverages. Eggnog, holiday punch, sangria, margarita’s and champagne are the perfect holiday drinks to toast the season. Make sure to have non-alcoholic beverages for guests that don’t imbibe.
Games and Activities
A gathering that involves games and activities can liven up a party, especially if children and teens are invited. Holiday trivia, such as a big 2012 quiz in pop-culture, bingo, charades and of course, the ever embarrassing, yet obligatory holiday karaoke. All are fun and entertaining ways to allow your guest to cut loose and have a great time.
Try to get your guests to mingle by setting up tables of food and beverages throughout your home. This way guests won’t congregate in one spot and stay there the entire night, and be sure to have a designated dance floor, clear from the champagne flutes and other china.
You don’t want to miss out on the fun by spending the evening cooking and serving. If you’re planning on having a large gathering, you can hire several people to serve and clean up. Hit up the teenagers at your church group or your babysitter and her friends, pay them accordingly, or bribe them with free food.
Ending the Evening
Don’t necessarily set a time for the party to end, towards the end of the evening, clear one of the food tables, and have a self-serve coffee bar. Put different holiday flavors of creamer, sugar, and whole milk on one side of the table, with cups, saucers and stirring spoons at the other end, and allow your guests to serve themselves. Serving coffee is the international sign for calling the party over, most people will start to shuffle their way out, and as your guests get ready to leave, see them to the door and thank them for coming. For those that have overindulged, call a cab or find a designated driver to ensure that they get home safely.
Melisa Cammack is a freelance writer, mother of three boys (with one little girl on the way), wife to one lovely man, and the biggest holiday enthusiast this side of the equator.
Melisa is currently promoting Bradley Corbett, a lawyer in criminal defense in San Diego as well as a DUI lawyer in Vista California, and wants to wish everyone a beautiful and safe holiday season.