The holidays can be a lot – especially for those who have taken on the noble yet daunting task of hosting an event. While the planning takes some predetermined steps, it doesn’t have to be a stressful chore! We have filtered the longer lists out there promising a Holy Grail approach to successfully hosting a holiday party and dwindled it down to only 3 key steps that involve developing a flexible yet structured plan and focusing on the 2 most important feature events: the dinner and cocktail hour.
The Golden Combination
Take it from our European counterparts – simple is always better! Keep it elegant yet effortless by adhering to the golden combination for a good time: a cheerful host with a set dinner plan and some options for activities. Often overlooked or misidentified, this combination is fail proof. A stressed out host, who forgets to radiate the spirit of the season, is missing the most important ingredient of a holiday party; it is after all, a time to spread the good cheer and to be jolly. A too relaxed of a host who has no plans beyond dinner, is often setting up for a monotonous time. Therefore have a seasonal dinner prepared with the classic holiday dishes on a table set unified by one single theme. Then have 2 options for entertainment that go beyond watching the family classics, which admittedly is easy but cliche.
Dancing and board games have proved to be popular for many hosts and allow for intimacy and immersion (not to mention the boost in endorphins!). While the dance music and set will depend on the individual theme of the party, below are some suggestions for the holiday themed game sets you can have, ready to go:
Furthermore, these activities are the perfect wind up that can culminate in a cozy end to the night, when you can finally pop in the classics and wind down.
The Two- Tone Dinner
The above sketch plan might seem vague and idealistic. While that is partly on purpose, so that you know to be flexible and to follow the flow of the energy of your guests, we do have specific tips for how to do dinner and cocktail hour. The dinner is the central focus of the night, though we reiterate that it should not be the only activity! But because of how it sets the tone, being the opener of the night, the tabletop and the decor that goes with the food is an important area to focus on. If you want the party to have a generally fancier tone, go for vibrantly colored though equally chic table sets. This is especially appropriate for parties that are with friends, where you get to experiment with trends and the deviation from the classics is appreciated.
For this fancy party, inform your guests of the more elevated dress code, which would definitely add to the grandiosity of the event.
If you want a more homely party, that evokes the nostalgia of the parties that your parents likely hosted, with the cozy “ugly” Christmas sweaters and the hot traditional drinks, go for simple but themed designs for tabletop. This is the classic party where the louder the decor, the better!
If you are lucky enough to be hosting multiple parties this season, try both styles and see what type of host you most prefer to be!
Cocktail Hour, At All Hours
If the most anticipated moment of the season is Christmas morning for kids, for most adults it’s the fancy cocktail hours. Therefore, it is equally as important to prepare for this time.
We recommend mixing the drinks in advance, so as to avoid bartending all night. While it is impossible to anticipate the specific cocktail that individual guests would want, having three pitchers of classic holiday mixes might be a good idea. To make it easier, have an “accent” liquor (and plenty of it) that will serve as the basis for most of the drinks you plan to make that night. Champagne is an easy, hassle free one to have in stock, as it can be served on its own or in holiday themed cocktails made with bitters, juices or even with cognac.
And of course, as with everything else the presentation of the hour is just as important as the cocktail itself.
Hosts and guests attest to how the most successful holiday events are usually simple, elegant and laid back parties, that has feeling like they are in a slightly fancier setting than their homes. Think back to the most enjoyable parties you have attended; did it ever include a host who was not having a good time themselves? Most likely not. And while we do agree that there is a certain amount of pressure that comes with hosting a holiday event (and working to outshine that one cousin’s party that your whole family still talks about), it can be handled gracefully if you follow these easy steps. Don’t forget to let us know your hosting experience this year in the comments below!