Here’s the most important advice I can offer you as a seasoned party host: Keep it simple. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and then end up scrambling at the last minute, running three more errands to the store to get a specific kind of chocolate you need for that gourmet dessert dish you found on Pinterest. Planning is key, and the more you do it, the easier and more natural it will become. Create some structure and know what you need ahead of time. If you want to gain a reputation as a great party host, here are the things I’ve found to be most important!
- The Guest List:
The more the merrier, right? Well, not in all cases. Not necessarily when it comes to hosting a great holiday soiree. More people means more food, means more money. Plus, the more people, the more introductions you have to do, and the more likely people will split off instead of engaging the whole group. Having a smaller group means less work for you and a greater chance of enjoying the evening with your friends. Too few people, and it’s less of a party or soiree and more of an intimate dinner. In all my years of party planning, I’ve decided that 8 to 10 people is the perfect number for a nice holiday soiree. Of course, you can host as many people as you’d like and it could still be a smash. Holiday parties can be a great opportunity to meet new people and get to know existing friends even better. Plus, it can be a sneaky way to introduce singles… if you want to play match-maker! Lastly, when it comes to inviting your guests, you can always suggest a semi-formal attire as this will definitely take your party up a notch or two. Where else am I supposed to where that emerald green sequin dress I got at Nordstrom Rack three years ago? Tis the season to sparkle!
- The games:
Games can make or break a party. As a host or hostess, there’s nothing worse that the sound of crickets as your guests awkwardly engage in small talk when all they really want to do is leave this lame party. Games loosen everybody up and create hilarious interactions which will make conversation at dinner even easier. A few years ago, I attended a holiday party where the host had come up with some really creative prompts for a game of charades. It was hilarious, and when we weren’t laughing, we were crying (because we were laughing so hard). Plus, a bottle of wine or some holiday cocktails don’t hurt to make the games a little more interesting.
- The Decoration:
This image is from Half Bake Harvest
One of the things I’ve always admired about my grandmother is her eye for beautiful things. She knows what looks right and how to piece something together. She can arrange a bouquet of Safeway daisies to make them look like they belong on the cover of Town and Country magazine. At holiday parties and family gatherings over the years, she would decorate the house in the most creative, yet simple ways. Nothing was ever gaudy or expensive, but always beautiful and tasteful. One of her go-to tricks was incorporating the seasons greenery she cut from her own backyard. She would gather of evergreen clippings, pine cones, or fallen leaves to decorate the dinner table. Adding simple tea light candles and loose ornaments create an especially festive display. The other great thing about these types of decorations is that they are practically free. You likely have candles and ornaments already stashed away, and if you don’t have festive looking plants in your own backyard, clip some from the nearby park.
- The food:
This image is from Cotter Crunch Blog
This is your opportunity to really shine. No pressure.
The food to a party is like the icing to a cake. Nobody wants to eat dry tasteless icing, even if the cake is delicious. The trick here is prepping beforehand so you can do as little work as possible once your guests arrive. You can put in as much time as you want here but if you really want to impress, having multiple courses will do just that. Here are some course suggestions for your next holiday soiree:
- Beet Salad (Natasha’s Kitchen)
- Butternut Squash Soup (Give Me Some Oven blog)
- Cranberry Balsamic Roasted Chicken (Cotter Crunch Blog)
While the sit-down meal is important, the food you set out beforehand is of equal importance. Guard against hunger rumblings and small talk fatigue by providing salted nuts, summer sausage, cheeses, and some seasonal chocolates. The Northwest Necessities Gift Box should have everything you could need or want in party snacks.
- The music:
What atmosphere are you trying to create? Is it classy? Is it modern? Is it cheesy? The music will get you there! Pandora and Shopify have many stations you can select to play the whole night. Personally, I will just play Mariah Carey’s all I want for Christmas on repeat, and call it good. But it’s not for the faint of heart and I understand that not everyone will appreciate this musical masterpiece to the same extent. While I am not going to suggest what you should play, I am going to strongly suggest what you should NOT play: The Lord of the Rings soundtrack, hard metal, and Gregorian chants. There is a time and place for all of these, and it’s not at your classy holiday soiree. If you really want to up your music game and create some really classy ambiance, nothing beats the rich sound of vinyl. If you have access to a record player, this would be a great addition to your party!
Well, wrap it up and slap a bow on it; You have a darn good party planned right there. Please comment below if you have any other suggestions I might have missed.
If you’re attending a party and need a great hostess gift, check out our Holiday Gift Guide here! We offer our suggestions for great Meat and Cheese Gift boxes as well as some out-of-the-box gifts.