As you may have picked up from some of my previous posts, I absolutely LOVE this time of year. And although Thanksgiving is right around the corner (any first time hosting tips are welcome), Christmas has always been my hands down favorite. What’s not to love? The music, decorations, presents, lovely smell of pine filling the home! And of course, having an opportunity to spend time with loved ones. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is our annual holiday party. And although I may be a newbie when it comes to hosting Thanksgiving, this will be our fifth annual holiday soiree! And I will admit, it’s quite the event. I like to think of it as the Vanity Fair Oscar party of our social circle. That may be a slight exaggeration, but I have been told that people look forward to it all year. Well, I look forward to it all year.
Anyways! I have picked up a thing or two over the years which has made the event both less stressful for myself and more enjoyable for guests! And in case you are planning on hosting a holiday soiree of your own, I thought you might enjoy a few of my tips!
This is way easier than you think and really sets the event apart! Adding little festive touches around the house ensures guests are delighted at every turn! And it doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Have some ornaments that didn’t make the tree? Put them into a glass bowl, accented with a ribbon!
I was quite proud of this little vignette! The candle holders, candles, and tray are all courtesy of the dollar store. Add in a few ornaments in a variety of shapes, and you have a charming Christmas display! I also like the idea of incorporating some beautifully wrapped presents in in a holiday vignette. After all, why should they have to hide under the tree all season!
The last couple of years, we’ve also been lining the living room and dining room with strings of Christmas lights. Yellow lights only, not multicolored. It creates such a beautiful glow!
Of course, creating a festive atmosphere is more than just decor! An equally festive playlist is essential for an unforgettable party! I stick to upbeat classics that are known crowd pleasers (i.e. All I Want For Christmas is You, Santa Baby), and try to add in some lesser known newer tunes (accented by a few pieces from the Nutcracker,of course). If you’re looking for some ideas, I shared a Spotify playlist last year here! Services like Spotify and Google Play make it super easy to create a playlist right on your phone that you can plug into a portable speaker or TV during the party.
This is where I think some experience has definitely gone a long way for me. My first overambitious party menu left me exhausted by the time the party started, and the food was cold by the time most of the guests arrived. First off, know that most people will not arrive at the time stated on the invitation (unless you’re having a formal dinner party). And of course, you want people to enjoy the food when it’s fresh out of the oven.
In my opinion, the trick is to find appetizers that can be made ahead and popped into the oven for a few minutes during the party to ensure fresh and warm appetizers throughout the evening. Last year, I found a few appetizers that had similar cooking times and temperatures which I made ahead and put on cookie sheets in sets of 10 or so and popped them in the fridge. Once one batch is gone, you can pop in another sheet of apps and have a fresh batch ready in a few minutes. Slow cooker meatballs are also a life saver. Leave the slow cooker on warm, and replenish the platter as they run out. So much less stressful than trying to have everything ready at the same time and worrying out about food getting cold.
Also, I try to stick to finger foods. No one wants to make a mess of their party outfit or be sitting down and cutting through something with a knife and fork. Try to pick things that can be eaten easily in a couple of bites with minimal mess (or the addition of toothpicks). A roundup of a few favorites from last year..
Garlic Chicken Puffs: While there is no shortage of crescent roll appetizers on Pinterest, I’ve probably made this one probably half a dozen times. The recipe is super versatile and easy! Split the chicken and cream cheese mixture into two, add different seasonings, and you have two different appetizers. I like to give them a little kick with a splash of Sriracha.
Sweet & Sour Crockpot Meatballs: Reading through the ingredients, I was a bit skeptical at first..but these were such a hit! And literally require about 5 minutes of active prep.
Best Ever Sliders: The fact that I didn’t make these last year was probably my biggest hostessing fail ever. They will certainly be on the menu this time around.
Warm Gruyere, Bacon, and Carmelized Onion Dip: One can’t host a Christmas party without a cheese based dish. And this one not only sounds impressive, but is super delicious!
Add A Personal Touch!
In a time where the vast majority of communication takes place electronically through email, text, and an endless array of social media platforms, it’s so refreshing to add something more personal and tangible to the event! I love the idea of sending out invitations! Not an Evite, email, group text, but an actual physical invitation! Imagine just how delighted your guests will be to find a pretty little invitation in the mail that they stick on the fridge to remind themselves of fun times ahead!
There are a ton of adorable options on Tiny Prints, many of which can be customized to match the theme/color of your soiree! I’m torn between these three for this year.
And finally, don’t forget budget the time it will take for you to get ready into your plan for the evening. It seems so simple, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this. And the next thing you know you’re still applying eyeliner as guests are walking in the door.
And most importantly, try not to stress and enjoy yourself! After all, parties are supposed to be fun!