Jingle bell jingle bell jingle bell rock, doo dee dum dum dah don’t know the words…
What we do know is that the holidays are officially here. Perhaps you’re planning the office holiday party, or you’re hosting a holiday get together at home for family and friends. Either way, you may well be a tad ‘mistletoe my goodness I have a holiday party to plan’ right now, in which case we’re ho ho hoping we can help. Not so much with our deliciously cheesy festive puns, but more with our extensive checklist, and obscenely useful hacks and tricks which are sure to get you started in planning the Christmas party of the season. There’s snow way your party is going to be dud with our tips! Last one we promise…
The Ultimate Checklist & Plan
You need to choose a date for your party, which is easier said than done. If it is for work friends you will need to get something planned before December 25th because they will all be busy with friends and family over holiday break. If it is for family, you can plan a party during the key days surrounding the holiday you are celebrating and possibly take some of the pressure off family members who usually host. If it is for close friends, try to choose a date before Christmas so you can exchange gifts, or if everyone is super busy you can perhaps choose a day when everyone is off work between Christmas Day and New Years. Your priority lies with knowing who really needs to be there, and checking dates with them first.
Your first next priority should be a list of guests. Get out the notepad on your phone and start listing people you want to attend. This will give you a good idea of how many people you’re catering for. You may want to include room for guests attending alone to bring a friend or date. Also, it’s good to assume that at least 30-50% of people may not be able to come when creating your list, so you can usually invite a few more people.
At this time of year money seems to melt out of your bank balance. No sooner have you been paid has each and every penny been allocated to gifts, party clothes and survival until the post holiday payday. For this reason it is so important to budget for your party. This will help you ensure you have a great shindig, minus the serious panic on afterwards about how you’re going to afford the rest of the holiday season. Budget for:
- An outfit
- Any catering or bartending if applicable
- Venue hire
- Extras like games & mini gifts
- Entertainment if applicable
Location, Location, Location
You need to hold the party somewhere right? Perhaps you can hold it at your house if the party is small enough, or if you feel comfortable enough. Some bars might offer free room rental if you spend a certain amount at the bar, and others will charge for the privilege. If you want to go deep on decorations and get really unique, you could rent a barn, marquee, beach or other unique space and hold the party there – there are no limitations, apart from your budget and your creativity. The key tip here is to book early because some people book venues for next year just after their holidays event (yeah we know, sickening amount of organization).
You should now be ready to send out invitations which should be sent well in advance of the occasion because people get booked up quickly around the holidays. How you contact your guests is up to you, but you might want to follow up with a call or text if you get no reply in case they don’t get your message for some reason. You should let guests know:
- The date, time and location of the party
- A title or description for the party, for example, Holiday Sweaters, wine and cheese, cheesy holiday songs
- Suggest what they can bring
- That you would like an RSVP by a specific date
We love this scratchcard invites idea from Giddy Up Workshop.
Food and drink are essential to a holiday party. You might want to make food yourself, buy it, or you might want to get the event professionally catered it depends on your time, budget and the size of your party. There are many affordable party food selections at the supermarket that can easily be prepared in advance of the event. Just don’t forget to include gluten free, veggie and vegan options because they are just as delicious as the rest of the food, and they cater for anyone with allergies or a different diet (and trust us, somebody will have dietary requirements and won’t have told you in advance). Ideally you would buy easy, tasty food and spend more money on fancying it up with cute festive plates, cups and decorations, this saves time and ensures aesthetics, food and budget are accounted for. Good food & drink ideas for holiday parties:
- Cheese board
- Organic breads & spreads like these gorgeous aubergine dips from Jamie Oliver, or this authentic German rye bread recipe, also from Jamie Oliver
- Festive pastries
- Big bowls of festive sweeties
- Novelty Christmas cookies, like these gorgeous melted snowman biscuits from BBC Good Food
- Sliced meats
- A big mulled wine pan
- Nuts & Crackers
- Veggies and dips
- Assortment of horderves
- If you are going all out you could do the full Turkey, Ham or Duck dinner (depending on your traditions) with all sides, such as potatoes, stuffing, brussel sprouts, perogies and more.
With alcohol, be sure to let guests know if they need to bring their own. If they do, you might want to provide a cooler bucket, or make space in the fridge. If you are providing it you can make it work with a budget by choosing a few options of wine, beer, spiked spiced eggnog and mulled wine. Or go all out and have a full assortment of available. EIther way make sure you organize a safe ride home for your guests if they choose to drink (shuttles, taxis, designated drivers etc.)
With the wide selection of cute decorations, sparkly lights and festive furnishings available in the shops these days, decorating for the holidays is easy. Your key feature will likely be your tree, so spend the most time and money on getting that right so that it has the WOW factor.
Other great decorations could be:
- Poinsettia – It looks beautiful, festive and brings some life into the look of the party
- Bunting – Festive bunting looks really cute and adds height to your decorations
- Lights – Fairy lights are your best friend and will make any space look magical. You can stuff them in jars, wind them around staircases, wrap them around bare trees, or scatter them across tables, they will always add a cute look to a space. These fairy light decor ideas from Cynthia Lomeli can easily be adapted to holiday themed ideas for a party
- Ornaments – Ornaments aren’t limited to a tree. If you can buy loads of them from charity shops, do it, then fill up baskets or jars with them, scatter them across tables, or hang them from different areas of the house – they add color, light and interest
- Easy paper stars, like the ones made in this easy Youtube tutorial from DIY Paper Crafts
If you’re extending the party to an outdoor space, don’t forget to put lighting first before decoration as people won’t want to go to dark areas, lit areas are safer, and any decorations won’t be seen in the dark.
- A homemade fruit & spice garland
- Spiced popcorn tinsel – check out how to make it in this great DIY video from Jamie Oliver
- Dot Oojra White Tea and Ginger Essential Oil Reed Diffusers around the party space to waft delicious and deep scent into every corner
- Clove filled oranges in a bowl by the door, so guests instantly get a smell of the holidays as they enter
With your music you really need to consider your crowd. Most holiday parties do well with a mix of Christmas songs in between chart hits and pop classics. Try to include all the most famous party songs, and avoid anything dreary and downbeat.
Make sure you have a plan of what needs setting up so you’re all ready for the party. It is a busy season with so much to get done and enjoy, so it’s important to give your sizzled brain a back up, so you know exactly what to do in what order for your wonderful party to go ahead without a hitch.
Because Oojra loves you so very much, we also wanted to share our top holiday party hosting hacks with you, just in case you needed any more help with your jolly holiday party:
Even if you barely know most of the people at your party, it is still fun to provide a little party bag for each guest. It could include a holiday card, and a chocolate tree decoration, nothing fancy, just a cute little gesture. If you don’t want guests to worry about bringing a gift, let them know to only bring themselves. Just be sure to have something nice and universally useful on hand, like our gorgeous Oojra Thai Jasmine Bamboo Reed Diffuser to give a person who brings you a proper Christmas present (not just a thanks for hosting gift) when you weren’t expecting it. The best thing about this scenario is if nobody does that, you get to keep a practical and beautiful item to use in your home. Alternatively you could set out a budget, so everybody gives gifts of a similar value, or you could play Secret Santa so everybody gets a gift and only has one person to buy for.
Entertainment Should Be Varied
Entertainment at a holiday party can just be everybody chatting to each other but it can also be so much more. What about:
- Pin the tail on Rudolf
- A holiday themed pinata
- Bobbing for apples
- Ornament bowls
- Christmas musical chairs
- Holiday films playing on TV
You can find even more holiday games for adults in the 33 ideas here from The Balance.
Don’t be afraid to mix up entertainment and talking points to get everybody in a fun and festive mood. Just judge your audience right – nana isn’t likely to want to bob for apples and the kids are unlikely to enjoy any topical type quiz games .
Be A Good Host
Being a good host is hard, but it is perfectly possible! There are many challenges, and holiday parties seem to bring more challenges than most, perhaps because it is the season of excess and some people get really drunk, sad or amorous (none of which you want to deal with as a host). Key tips include:
- Locking or clearly marking doors to rooms you do not want people to go in because no matter how respectful you think people are, you can never be too sure what will happen to even the most shy and conservative of guests after one too many mulled wines and a sprinkle of mistletoe
- Clearly mark areas for smoking and let people who you know smoke know where they can go to smoke. Place ashtrays in that area if you can, so that you can keep emptying them regularly
- Be ready to be a giver – if you are going to host a holiday party, you could ask your family to pitch in with food and drink if you’re close with them. Otherwise, you need to expect the onus of providing food and drink to be on you as the host
- Don’t get involved in any gossip or speaking nastily about anyone, even if there are guests who have come that you don’t like, nobody wants to be made to feel unwelcome during the holidays
- Ask for help from your closest friends or colleagues to help you out, whether that is with the cleaning, replenishment of food, guiding people out of areas they shouldn’t be in, or letting you know if someone needs a taxi ordering because they’re a little too drunk
- Be gracious and thank everyone for coming, make conversation wherever you can and introduce people
- Spread the holiday cheer because Christmas is stressful and a little sad for many, why add to it?
- Don’t get drunk yourself and make a reindeer of yourself
After The Party…
When the party has finished you may need to offer some people a bed for the night. First and foremost make sure everybody gets home safely. Give them some leftover party food, call them a taxi or Uber and ask them to text you when they get home. Where possible arrange designated drivers in areas where several people live. If people are staying with you, try to think about breakfast in the morning. Bacon and egg sandwiches always goes well. Fruit is also a good idea if somebody wants something small, as is toast for those still feeling a little rough the day.
We hope our checklist and hacks help you throw the perfect holiday party. Just remember to plan and organize in detail, budget and most of all have fun, it’s your holiday too!