It's Your Party and You'll Party If You Want To
Tips to Make Your Holiday Party a Little Easier, So You Enjoy The Party Too!
Rosie enjoys a festive holiday party full of great fun, food, and cheer – except if he is stuck in the kitchen preparing food or running around clearing dishes.
This basic holiday party timeline with easy hacks can help you have fun with your guests.
The Party Planner
A critical part of the holiday party is planning.
Four Weeks Out
Once the date is locked in, invite your guests. Keep track of who is invited and who is coming with email invitations. Free e-invites such as Evite and Punchbowl offer a variety of designs to fit your holiday theme (Ugly Christmas Sweater, Formal, Christmas Movie). Call and invite people who don't have or check their email regularly. Typically only 70 percent to 80 percent of invitees attend. . . even if they RSVP'd "yes."
Let people know if this is a family-friendly or adults-only party. That will help with the headcount.
Contact your HOA about parking for guests. You may have to find alternative parking offsite for guests and have a service shuttle them to your door. This is where your budget also comes in. So, start working on that too.
If you are having the party catered, call the caterer and get on their schedule, even if you don't know the menu yet.
Three Weeks Out
- Start gathering decorations.
- Plan the menu. Choose dishes that can be prepared in advance and frozen until the party.
- Hire people to help with pre- and postparty cleaning, pass drinks or appetizers, replenish buffet food, and tidy up while you can mingle with your guests.
Two Weeks Out
- Clean and polish crystal, china, and silverware.
- Clean and iron linens.
- Organize music playlist.
- Prepare dishes that can be frozen.
One Week Out
- Clean the house thoroughly and keep tidy the rest of the week.
- Arrange the furniture so guests can move easily from room to room.
- Tuck away things that may get broken.
- Take inventory of cookware and serving dishes. Label each with a sticky note so you'll remember what you plan to use it for come party time.
- Stock the bar.
- Replace burned-out lights.
- Stock the bathrooms with plenty of face and toilet tissue, soap, festive disposable hand towels, and air freshener.
- Fix sticky or squeaky doors.
- Notify the neighbors you're having a party.
Three Days Before
- Make space in a closet. Fill it with hangers or choose a bedroom for coats and bags.
- Finish grocery shopping.
- Make a detailed cooking schedule for remaining dishes.
One Day Before
- Set the tables. If you have pets, this may have to wait a day until they are put away.
- Finish pre-cooking.
- Finish last-minute cooking.
- Secure pets in a closed room (place a "Pets Inside. Do Not Enter" sign on the door.)
- Touch-up cleaning.
- Remove personal items from bathrooms you don't want guests to see or take (i.e. medications).
- Set out wrapped appetizers that won't spoil one to two hours before guests arrive. Tear off the wrap when the first guest rings the doorbell.
Breathe, relax and enjoy!
Food & Drinks
Celebrating the holidays with family and friends is the true purpose of parties... or is it the food? Peppermint bark, eggnog, baked ham, Christmas cookies, and fruitcake (you secretly love it) have been waiting 12 months for you.
If inviting people via an email invitation, ask what their favorite beverages are and if they have food allergies. Have options on hand for those sensitive to nuts, gluten, and dairy. Suggest guests bring their favorite dishes to ensure they can partake in the gluttony without going into anaphylaxis shock.
The hors d'oeuvres should be the lightest part of your menu. A simple charcuterie board or bruschetta will tide guests over until the main meal. Bacon-wrapped asparagus, cheese balls, and a vegetable crudité are easy to make.
If there isn't a sit-down dinner, finger foods will make prep and cleaning easy. Crab cakes, chicken lettuce cups, and macaroni and cheese fries are great portable options.
A potluck can alleviate a lot of work and guests can share their favorite traditional holiday fare. Create a Google Doc where everyone lists what they will bring -- unless you want 30 versions of green bean casserole.
Decorate and eat! Use cubed cheese and deli meats to make a wreath-shaped display. Add cherry tomatoes on top and put rosemary around it to complete the look.
Cheers! Rosie always makes sure EVERY guest has their favorite refreshments.
Use a slow cooker to keep hot chocolate, apple cider or mulled wine heated. Keep it at a low setting to prevent burning throughout the party.
Stick holiday gift tags on disposable cups and ask guests to label it with their names. This way there shouldn't be any mix-ups and fewer cups will be wasted (though probably not your guests).
Have to-go containers ready to send leftovers home.
Your home can smell like the holidays with vanilla, lemon, and rosemary simmering on the stove. Many diffused essential oils can do that too. If your tree looks like A Charlie Brown Christmas, fill sparse areas with shiny green garland (or white for a white tree).
Lights are an important element of ambiance. Instead of regular lamps and ceiling lights, drape twinkly string lights on the ceilings, windows and outside for a festive glow. Live candles create a warm and cozy effect. Though with a lot of people milling about they could get knocked over. Consider small battery-operated LED candles instead. Keep the lights dim during your celebration. Dim lights illuminate the face attractively.
The key to enjoying your party is to do as much ahead of time as possible and have fun doing it.
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