The holidays can be a lot – especially for those who have taken on the noble task of playing the host. And while we know the planning can be half the fun if you approach the process correctly, it can also easily start to feel like a daunting chore, especially if as the host, you have a mild to severe case of perfectionism. To keep you from falling into the common hosting anxiety pit, 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 can help you help the perfect (seemingly) effortless party of the year.
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 set dinner plan and some options for activities. Often overlooked as “too simple”, this combination is fail proof. Having a seasonal dinner prepared with the classic dishes on a holiday and having 2 options for entertainment that go beyond watching the family classics, will set you and your guests up for a guaranteed good time. And just like domino effect, your cheerful attitude will help them relax and feel more at home.
While dinner depends on your cooking level and your guests’ preferences/traditions, activities can be trickier. You don’t want to underwhelm them and pop in a movie too early (and have all your guests go sluggish before 9 pm) , but you also don’t want to overwhelm your guests and have a complicated game that requires too much attention. Dancing and board games have proven to be popular for many hosts because of the way they allow for intimacy and immersion (not to mention the boost in endorphins!) and require minimal attention spans. 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 have a restful end to your party.
The Two- Tone Dinner
Now that you know to set aside time for two separate events, the dinner and the activities, let’s focus on how to conduct the first one: dinnertime. The dinner is the central focus of the night because of how it sets the tone as the opener of the night; naturally, the tabletop and the decor that goes with the food are important areas to focus on. Here everything rests on the type of party you want. If you want the party to have a fancier tone, go for vibrantly colored chic table sets, where everything is coordinated with the latest trends. This is especially appropriate for parties that are with friends, where you you can freely deviate from the standard holiday party, and create your unique take on it. Below are some suggestions for such a party:
For this type of party, inform your guests of the possibly a more elevated dress code, which would definitely contribute to setting the right mood.
On the other hand, if you want a more homey party, that evokes the nostalgia of the parties that your parents hosted, with the cozy ugly Christmas sweaters and the hot traditional drinks, go for simple but themed designs for tabletop. This is the classic holiday party where you have all the permission to be at your loudest, both in terms of decor and volume.
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 long cocktail hours. Therefore, preparing well for this time is an important task.
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.
Time and time again, it is always proven that guests enjoy parties when the atmosphere is laid back and somewhat simple, with a touch of elegance. 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. We wish you all happy holidays and as always, don’t forget to let us know your hosting experience this year in the comments below!