Holiday party time is upon us. And that means it’s time to make the tough choices when it comes to your own shin-dig. You can either spend this season worrying up a storm, or spend it relaxing, enjoying and letting everything fall into place. Which would you rather choose?
Listen: holiday party planning does not have to be stressful to be wonderful. You can throw an absolutely memorable and, dare we say it—perfect event while keeping your head about you. How? It comes by being prepared and by taking care of yourself.
A holiday party is an experience, and that experience is informed by your attitude towards it. That all starts with ensuring you know why you want to host this event and how you’re going to bring that desire to life.
Follow this party-planning process to get your occasion off the ground with less stress and more synchronicity.
When planning your holiday party, or really doing most things in your life, always start with why. Ask yourself: “Why am I throwing this party? What do I hope people leave feeling or thinking about? Why do I care about them thinking or feeling that way?”
After you’ve answered those questions, you can craft every other piece of the evening.
Based on your why:
- Who should be invited to the event?
- What should the theme be, if there is one at all?
- What activities will you incorporate?
- How will you entertain your guests when they arrive?
- What will you feed your guests and how? If you need some menu inspiration, check out our easy party recipes at the bottom of this blog!
- How will you decorate?
- How are you going to invite them?
- Depending on who your guests are, what kind of restrictions need to be placed on food, setting, etc.
Always answer these questions by going back to the “Why,” which will, we promise, make all this so much easier than you could’ve imagined!
Here’s an example of using a “Why” statement to craft a stellar small event.
- Why: Because I want people to feel connected, loved and settled during the holiday season.
- Who: A small gathering of close friends and family members. Adults and older children only.
- Theme: Nothing in particular. Perhaps “Low-key and light.”
- Setting/Set-up – Firepit area outside, back porch and the kitchen. Light the fire and rent one standing heater for the porch.
- Decor- Low-lighting. Candles. Search Pinterest for white, minimal and natural decor for windowsills.
- Food- Small bites and small plates. There will be a buffet table set-up so people can nosh as they wish. Recipes saved on Pinterest board. If you need some menu inspiration, check out our easy party recipes at the bottom of this blog!
- Drink- A big pot of mulled wine and another of cider (nonalcoholic). Recipes saved on Pinterest board.
- Activities- We’ll do a thankfulness ceremony around the fire where we say what we were thankful for in 2016 and what we hope the holiday season will bring to ourselves and the rest of the world.
- Entertainment- Light music playing in the background. Make a great playlist of non-traditional holiday songs.
- Gifts and Favors (completely optional and unexpected by guests!)-Send everyone home with a heartfelt love note and a homemade rosemary wreath.
- Invitations- Send everyone an online invitation.
- Special Requests/Considerations – Remember friends that have food allergies or special dietary restrictions, and have a couple of appropriate dishes available.
This part of the process is key. Pulling everything together takes time, focus and a great to-do list. Here are just a few tips to keep you sane during your prepping process.
- Keep a calendar. In the events world, we keep “production calendars” with key dates for us to make in our event process. When do items need to be purchased by? When do you want to have decor up? When do invites need to be sent? Keeping this calendar in a handy place, whether your faithful notebook or online, will keep you on track. Plus, with a plan, you can pivot more easily.
- Do things in small chunks.Take small steps to make your event a reality. Spend one day setting up your playlist. Spend another working specifically on a drink menu or on decor ideas. By spreading things out, you allow yourself to focus, which makes every piece of the party perfect.
- Prep as much food and decor as you can ahead. You don’t want to be scrambling day of to get everything prepared. It’ll leave you dizzy, hot and flustered. We suggest making ahead as much as you can so that the day of is for touch ups and “fluffing.”
- Have a plan B. This is perhaps the most important! If, day of, it rains and your event is outside, where do partygoers go? If the food gets burnt or eaten by your dog, where do you turn? Have a list of potential crises and their ailments so that if trouble occurs, you are prepared to make smart and swift decisions.
The day of, do these things. They may not sound like what you “should” do on party day, but they’re super important to get done.
- Take care of yourself. Breathe deeply. Take at least an hour before the party to get ready. Remember: the better your feel, the better your party goes! It’s just natural.
- Ask for help. No one can do this alone. Day of, get friends or other party invitees in on the preparation process.
- Do it in order. Get your decor and ambiance set first. Drinks, too. That way, if the food is taking a little longer than anticipated, you at least have a setting everyone can enjoy.
- Have a plan B. Remember that plan, it’ll come in handy this day. Use it as needed and if you encounter a situation you didn’t think of breath. Take a pause before you make any hasty decisions.
Taking these best practices steps ensure you have a perfect holiday party, no matter the season. Who knows, maybe your newly honed skills could turn into a side career creating experiences and events for a living. You can thank us later.
Easy Party Recipes To Try
Baked Brie with Balsamic Glazed Strawberries – Served as an amuse-bouche appetizer or a larger wedge, this baked brie is always impressive.
Brown Sugar Glazed Smokies – The recipe simply combines brown sugared bacon with cocktail links to make a flavorful appetizer family and friends of any age will enjoy.
Merry Mojito – This holiday mojito recipe is extra merry! Fresh mint, rum, Peppermint Schnapps and crushed candy canes will add a little extra cheer to your holiday party.
Savory Pumpkin Goat Cheese Bites – Surprise your guests with these flavorful mini muffins.
Sweet Potato and Pecan Paninis with Smoked Gouda – A savory panini that both vegetarians and non-vegetarians can enjoy.
Choose Your Own Adventure Baked Apples – Cinnamon baked apples become an adventure when you set up a toppings bar and let everyone pick and choose their favorite toppings.
Milk Chocolate Pudding with Peppermint Marshmallow Whipped Cream – The only way that this smooth and creamy homemade milk chocolate pudding could be any better is with a spoonful of peppermint marshmallow whipped cream.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Quesadillas with Pecan Praline Topping – A creative spin on pumpkin cheesecake, this quick and easy fall dessert is huge on flavor and comes together in just 20 minutes.
Sweet n Salty Cashews – Salty cashews tossed with a candied sugar coating make for the ultimate sweet-n-salty combo.
Apple Cider Doughnut Holes – This Apple Cider Doughnut Holes recipe makes perfectly light and lightly scented doughnuts with a crispy outer edge and sweet cinnamon sugar coating.
The rich flavors of bourbon and cream cheese coupled with the fruitiness of figs, apples and pomegranate make this a pastry sure to please even the most sophisticated palate.