Entertaining for Holiday Parties

The holiday season always seems to sneak up in subtle ways. You may find yourself intuitively switching your pumpkin spice latte order for a peppermint mocha, dawning more red and green than usual, receiving holiday cards in the mail, or craving a night on the couch watching your favorite Christmas movie. However the feeling of the season touches you, there’s no denying its presence. For some, the holiday season means attending parties; for others, it means hosting. For those of you in the latter category, we’ve compiled a list of tips and ideas to help you prepare for your festive fêtes and holiday soirees.

Save the Date: The holidays are a busy time for everyone. You have the office holiday parties, the fundraisers, the gift drives, the Shabbat dinners, the neighborhood cookie swaps, the white elephants, the secret Santas, and the list goes on from there. To ensure a solid turn out to your soiree, send invitations as early as possible. Invites should state the who, what, where, when, and any other necessary details regarding your event. As for the medium, you can either send the invitations by mail, create a Facebook event, or send an email. This is also the ideal time to communicate to your guests if you’d like them to bring anything. If you’re hosting a potluck style event, request each guest to bring something of a specific category such as a dessert, an appetizer, or simply a bottle of wine.

Decorating for the Event: We recommend preparing as much as possible before the event. This allows you as the host to sit back, relax, and enjoy time with your guests. Decorating is one thing you can do in advance. Hang garland on banisters and above entryways, set the table with napkins, candles, and florals, and string lights to create a cozy and festive feel. Your decorations should exude your personal style, so go with whatever feels right and complements your home’s interior. A few simple touches show that you care and took the time to create a warm and homey atmosphere.

Preparing Food & Drinks: An experienced host knows the importance of outsourcing wherever possible. While you may be perfectly capable of doing it all, there’s no shame in getting a little help from caterers, requesting guests to bring food, or ordering a platter or dessert from your local grocer. Your presence at your party is the most important thing to your guests, so take the pressure off and accept a little help from your friends. Another way to ensure you’re a guest at your own party is to create DIY stations. Set-up a bar cart with cocktail ingredients so people can make their own drinks. When guests arrive, show them around the bar cart, make them a drink, and encourage them to help themselves. This will save you from playing bartender for the rest of the evening and help makes guests feel at home.

Creating a Comfortable Ambiance: Vibe, the unexplainable feeling, and energy a gathering emits may be the most essential element of a party. Signs of a good vibe include sounds of laughter, chatter, and music, genuine, smiling faces, warmth, hugs, guests getting comfortable on the couch, or dancing. But how does a host manage the vibe of a party? We suggest starting with the music selection. Select a playlist that exudes personality and is upbeat, festive, and nostalgic. Legendary hosts like Martha Stewart and Jenni Kayne suggest playing music from before the 80s. For holiday favorites, look to Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin. If you don’t have time to curate a playlist, there are plenty of pre-made holiday playlists to choose from on Spotify and Pandora. Another excellent way to create a comfortable ambiance is by lighting candles and adjusting the lights to the mood you want to set, whether that be bright and lively or soft and intimate.

A Holiday Touch: Holiday parties are what you make them. You can choose to host an intimate dinner party, a Secret Santa, an ugly sweater contest, a cookie swap, or even a donation drive. While having a holiday-themed event isn’t necessary, parties are always an excellent opportunity to do something festive and fun. Chat with guests in advance and get a feel for what you think people would enjoy. If your friends are feeling overwhelmed, you may want to forego anything that would require extra effort on their part, but if they’re teeming with holiday energy and spirit, then deck the halls and go all out!

Entertaining your family and friends at home is a beautiful way to celebrate the season and bring everyone together. If you’re feeling the love and holiday feels at the end of the evening, you’ll know your event was a success!

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