Your Guide to Hosting a Stress-Free Holiday Party

Nov 27, 2014

My favorite part of the holidays is spending time with family and friends. My other favorite parts include enjoying delicious meals, sipping holiday cocktails and getting all dazzled up in sparkly dresses and shiny shoes. So what better way to spend time with those you love and enjoy all those other holiday favourites than throwing a spectacular festive holiday party?!
A blurry iPhone pic of my sister at me at last year's Holiday Party


I love hosting events and get-togethers, but I certainly recognize that for a lot of people, throwing a party is the equivalent of walking through Costco on a Saturday morning...stress, sweats, and nervous stomach pains. Hopefully these few ideas, tips and tricks will help you throw a worry free party, one that not only your guests will love, but that you can enjoy too!

INVITES
(1 month in advance)
  1. Get your invites out early. December is a hectic month for most people. You want to spread the word sooner than later so your guests can plan to attend your event and work around anything else they have going on.
  2. Creating invites online is easy. My favourite site to use is picmonkey.com. It has a  lot of great features, including seasonal specific backgrounds, fonts, and art. It's very user friendly, customizable & free. Here is our Holiday event invite which I created using pic monkey.



PLANNING YOUR MENU
(2 weeks in advance)
  1.  Whether serving a full course meal, or laying out hors d'oeuvres, food and drinks need to be planned for in advance.
  2. For a holiday party, I always go with serving small bites and save full course meals for a smaller gathering. If you're going this same route, don't lay out all the food at once. Everything will have disappeared and your guests will still want to snack. Have a few dishes at the beginning of the night, take a few away and add more towards the middle, and again at the end. It's also good to keep food around while there's alcohol involved so everyone enjoys a good balance. 
  3. Once you've selected which dishes you're going to make, put together a grocery list and purchase your groceries about 5 days in advance.
  4. Looking for some new dishes to try? Check out my Pinterest board for unique food and drink ideas.
  5. Follow Natasha's board Party Menu Recipes on Pinterest.

SUPPLIES
(asses up to 1.5 weeks in advance)
  1. It's a good idea to source some extra seating if your every day furniture is minimal. Friends and family are great options for this and usually don't mind lending extra chairs.
  2. Same goes for utensils, dishware and wine glasses. If you opt to go with the real version, see if you can borrow some items from family and friends rather than purchasing on your own. Some catering companies will also let you rent items.
  3. If yours is not a BYOB event, make sure you fully stock your bar. Keep en eye out for sales at your local liquor & grocery store leading up to your event.

ATMOSPHERE
(day before & day of)
  1. Since it's Christmas, your house should already be fully decked with all the decor you need. 
  2. To really amp up your cozy christmas mood, have a festive simmer on the stove when your guests arrive. Fill a pot half full with water, add some vanilla, a few cinnamon sticks, orange peel, cloves and cranberries and let it simmer on low. The smell of this mixture will really win over your guests.
  3. Music! Having good music at your event is key. Even though it's Christmas, I recommend playing a mixture of holiday and regular music. Oldies are always a crowd pleaser - but stick with whatever you and your guests like.
  4. Light lots of candles and use lamps rather than ceiling lights, which can be overly bright and harsh.

Fun Ideas
  1. If you're expecting young kids, set up an area where they can be comfortable. Maybe play a festive movie, have them colour and draw or do a Christmas craft.
  2. Setting up stations are a fun and interactive way to serve drinks. 
      • Hot Chocolate Station with marshmallows, candy cane stir sticks & baileys if you're serving to adults.
      • Caesar Station including different mixes, a variety of rim seasonings and additions like BBQ sauce
      • Hot Toddy Station. Lay out all the necessary ingredients and let your guests mix together their drink just how they like it.
  3. Use a chalkboard to label your dishes. Can't find one to buy? Use an old mirror and paint over the mirror with chalk paint, which is available at craft stores. Serving a cheese platter? Paint the centre of your serving tray with chalk paint so you can label your cheeses on the platter.
It's not too late to plan your holiday party for this season. Hopefully with this guide, you'll be able to throw a wonderful, stress-free event shared with family & friends at Christmas. 

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