Everybody loves attending holiday parties, but nobody particularly wants to host one. And I can’t really blame them — after all, in most parties everyone but the host seems to be having fun. But what if I told you that you could throw a holiday party that will dazzle your guests without leaving you stressed out after. The secret lies in the planning. So here are a few tips and tricks that will make your next holiday party look like a Hallmark movie!
Food and Drink
Let’s be real, the true star of any party are refreshments. So it makes perfect sense to want to whip up a feast that would put Masterchef contestants to shame. No chips and dip here, your party has more class than that! However, trying to create instagrammable treats and cocktails can leave you haggard even before the party begins. The trick here is to go simple, but fabulous. Don’t waste energy cooking an entire meal if you’re not going to have a sit-down dinner. Finger food or dishes like rice or pasta can work wonders. If you have to provide a main course, stick to a self-serve buffet — and remember, there’s no shame in catering. To avoid getting stuck behind the cocktail shaker, make your drinks in bulk. Punch bowls and pitchers are your new best friend. And don’t slack on the arrangement — the simple chip can become a delightful starter with the right plating!
Life Hack: Arrange nuts, cut fruit, and thinly sliced meats and cheeses on a large wooden cutting board. Place it on a table along with a pitcher of a simple cocktail like Tom Collins, Sangria, or a traditional mulled wine. Step back and gracefully accept all compliments.
When party time rolls around, you need a space that will match the festive feel. You could go all out and recreate something from a Thomas Kincaid painting — or you could be smart about it and get your space to work for you. The most work you’ll have to do is shift some furniture around to create a distinction between seating area and dance floor. Do this the day before for minimum stress. Now you just need to decorate. Tinsel, wreaths, and christmas ornaments will be your saviour. Artfully scatter them around the room to crank the festive feel up to 100. And of course you need a show-stopping Christmas tree — even a tabletop one will do. Entwine some fairy lights around the branches, place take-home gifts underneath, and don’t forget the star on top!
Life Hack: If you want a more elaborate tree, but don’t want to go through all the trouble of decorating it yourself, just turn it into a game! Ask your guests to bring at least one ornament to hang on the tree, prizes going to the prettiest, weirdest, and most creative submissions. Your guests can get a little competitive, and you get a unique centerpiece out of the deal!
So your guests have arrived, pleasantries have been exchanged, and a few have even made tentative overtures towards the food. It’s time to bring out the entertainment. You’ll want to have a few options handy so that you can mix and match to suit the mood of the guests. Start by making an awesome party playlist — the more songs the better — and play it from the get-go. That way, dancing is always an option. If you lean towards a more relaxed vibe, keep a few classic Christmas films on hand and dim the lights in preparation of a movie marathon. Or you could go for a game night. Keep board games and cards easily accessible and let people break into groups to play. Bring the party back together with a few holiday themed party games that everyone can enjoy — classics such as charades, 20 questions, and the left-right game are good options.
Life Hack: You can subtly set the pace of your party with the right playlist. Start off slow, then work your way up to high-energy dance beats. Dial it back down as you wind down for the evening — a sure signal to your guests that it’s time to wrap things up. Check out this list for some musical inspiration.
And now for everyone’s least favorite part. The prospect of cleaning up after even the tamest gathering is enough to put people off of hosting a party altogether. But clean up is actually a breeze if you plan properly. And the first rule of party planning is: don’t leave anything for washing. Disposable plates, cutlery, and cups are the way to go — there are even some eco-friendly options on the market! Keep takeaway boxes on hand as well, so your guests can take home any yummy treats that are left over. Not having to store the surplus food is a welcome bonus. Finally, and most importantly, do not start cleaning up immediately after your guests leave. Having to do this back-breaking work after hours of merry-making will leave a sour taste in your mouth. Instead, deal with the easy things first, like throwing away used utensils, and turn in for the night. The mess will still be there in the morning, and will be far easier to deal with after a good night’s sleep.
Life Hack: Keep a few spare cloths handy and take care of spills as soon as they happen or things will get sticky very quickly. Use one cloth for food related disasters and another for liquids. Drop them both in the laundry hamper when the party is done — washing them is a problem for future you.
With these tricks in hand, throwing the perfect holiday party is a piece of cake — but your guests don’t need to know that! So get ready to take a bow, because this Christmas, your party will be the talk of the town!
Shivangi’s interests include video games, psychology, and everything in between. Certified night owl, official nerd, and purveyor of fun facts. Follow her on instagram (@stixer11) if you want to meet her dog.