The winter holidays are a festive season and the holiday party is a popular way to celebrate with family, friends and co-workers. While everyone enjoys showing up at holiday parties, planning and hosting one is a big responsibility. Because a holiday party is a once a year event, everyone expects it to be relaxing and fun. So, how do you ensure your holiday party meets those expectations? Follow the tips and suggestions in this guide to make your holiday party a memorable one.
Make a Budget
Before you do anything, crunch the numbers and come up with a budget for your holiday party. This helps you stay within a certain monetary range as you make spending choices. Also, a solid budget can help you save money by considering the cost of items on your party list before you spend a dime. Keep in mind that spending lavishly doesn’t equate to a successful party. Spending wisely and making good choices is the way to approach your budget for this event.
Create a Guest List and Send Invites Early
Start your party planning in earnest by putting together a guest list. This list includes names and contact information. Email is faster, but it’s important to make sure the subject line mentions holiday party, so people open it. Or, you can stick with the classic mailed party invitation pairing a paper invitation with a matching envelope. Asking invitees to RSVP can help you figure out attendance numbers well in advance. Avoid conflicts by sending invites out two to four weeks ahead of the party date.
Choose a Date and Time
Setting a party date requires some thoughtful consideration of the busy season. Fridays are the most popular date for workplace holiday parties, and this makes sense because employees can relax, knowing there’s no work the next day. Alternative days are Wednesdays and Thursdays. Start times tend to be around 2 p.m. or 3 p.m., but parties can start earlier or later, depending on the workplace. Weekends are ideal for parties hosted at someone’s home. Home parties can begin in the afternoon or early evening. Ideally, the day and time should work for most people on the guest list.
Choose a Suitable Space or Venue
Once you’ve settled on a date and time, and you have a rough idea of the number of attendees, go ahead and secure an event space. This is easy if you plan on hosting the party in your home. You already know if you can use your living room, dining room, garage or other space for your party. However, if the party is for work or an organization, you can choose to host it on-site or at an outside venue. Either way, do whatever is necessary to reserve your desired space as quickly as possible. Remember, others are also planning parties, and spaces get booked rather quickly.
If you plan to use an event venue or restaurant as your party space, consider booking the space more than a month in advance. Also, have backup spaces in mind, just in case your first choice is unavailable. The last thing you want is to have to settle for a less than desirable location because there’s no other good choices.
There’s no rule that says one person must do everything related to throwing a holiday party. In fact, this may be too stressful for just one person. Instead, divvy up responsibilities among two, three or more people to make planning go quicker and smoother. This can be something like person A takes care of securing a location and getting decorations. Person B does food and entertainment, while person C oversees party set up and cleaning tasks.
Make a Food Plan
There are two ways to go when it comes to food for parties. You can be formal or casual. Formal settings usually involve a sit-down dinner with dining tables adorned with classy tablecloths, dishes, utensils and holiday centerpieces. Casual affairs feature buffet style food choices, which lean heavily on easy-to-handle foods and snacks. Whether you desire a formal or casual setting, you can go one step further by deciding how food is presented.
Build your own food bar. This popular trend involves setting up tables (food bars) featuring foods that align with a certain culinary theme. Guests are given numerous choices and they can build their plates by selecting whatever foods they wish, just like a buffet. Food bar ideas include fruit or vegetable salads, desserts such as donuts, cookies or cheesecake, nachos, hot dogs and sandwiches.
Classic catering. Hire a local caterer to provide food for the party. Contact various caterers and ask about their holiday menus. Some caterers may also offer food bar options.
Pot luck. Send party invitees a list of food items and ask them to volunteer to bring items on the list. Require them to tell whoever’s in charge of food planning what they intend to bring, so planners can ensure there’s enough food variety.
Leftovers. Food costs money, and one way to ensure it doesn’t go to waste is to supply guests with Chinese take-out boxes for leftovers.
Holiday Party Decor
It’s not a holiday party without festive decorations. Envision how you want the space to look and find decorations that help you create an uplifting atmosphere. This may include indoor and/or outdoor decorations.
Decorative lighting. LED lighting brightens any room or outdoor home or building. You can hang strings of twinkling lights near the ceiling or install holiday character lights outdoors as a fun way to greet guests.
Creative displays. Create festive displays using holiday table top characters or use life-size Santas, elves, gifts and candy canes to wow guests. Large displays are great for group pictures and selfies.