10 simple tips for hosting a holiday party
Choosing a theme for your holiday bash will make the event cohesive and fun. A theme doesn't necessarily mean asking your guests to arrive in costume (although if you're into that, great!), but it may mean choosing a few colors, food choices or party favors to tie the evening together.
Tip: Casey Noble, host of Travel Channel's "Hotel Impossible," suggests working with the color palate already in your home when choosing a color theme, rather than focusing on colors that are trending right now.
Take fun seriously
The more you plan, the more relaxed you'll be when your guests arrive. Andrew Mellen, organization expert and author of Unstuff Your Life, recommends using a list when you shop for meals and gifts or party favors. Shopping this way will make your trip more efficient, he says: "You won't buy duplicates, you'll have time to prepare more foods in advance, and you'll avoid last-minute trips to the store for one forgotten item."
Tip: Mellen also recommends writing up a schedule for the evening to help your event flow more smoothly.
What's in a name?
Place cards are a simple way to create a more formal and fun atmosphere at your holiday table. According to manners expert and author Thomas P. Farley, "If you're having a sit-down dinner party, place cards will help to ensure that the spirited pairings and conversations you want to engender at the table get their fair shot."
Tip: For a large soirée, place cards will be impractical. In this case, Farley suggests a party game as a way of stirring up interaction.
Casey Noble, host of Travel Channel's "Hotel Impossible," says that a great and cheap way to decorate your home for the holidays is to get outside and think local. "Greenery is a holiday decorating staple, so consider what's part of your natural environment, and bring it inside," she says. "There are likely lots of choices right outside your door that don't cost a penny."
Tip: "Scavenge for pine cones and paint them silver, clip branches off of a magnolia tree for an over-sized vase, or add dried fruit to a holiday wreath," Noble says.
Best face forward
As the holiday hostess, you want to put your best face forward. Celebrity makeup artist Angella Valentine says, "Holiday make-up should be fun while giving you the chance to try something different." Valentine suggests a bold lip, a shimmer shadow, a dramatic nail color, and cat eyeliner or adding false lashes for an extra glam look. For hair, she suggests trying a jeweled hair clip.
Tip: Pick up these items at your local drugstore to save time and money.
Music is an easy way to create the atmosphere you want to have at your party. According to LA-based DJ Michael Ober, "The music you play shows your guests what your party is about. Music reinforces the theme, whether they know it or not." Ober suggests designing a playlist based on the age-range of guests, and says to avoid an all-holiday mix. "Your mix should include half theme music, and half other selections," he says.
Tip: If you don't have the time or interest to create your own playlist, use a free streaming service like Pandora or Spotify.
Take note: I'm not talking about the apps you download on your smart phone. Appetizers are a simple and festive way to entertain your guests. Set out a few bite-sized and not-too-messy finger foods, dips or fancy hors d'oeuvres so your guests can mix and mingle without focusing on when dinner will be served.
Tip: Spend a few minutes on Pinterest to find easy, quick and creative appetizer recipes.
Get your drink on
"Tasty cocktails can brighten up awkward situations, and are great stress busters and holiday mood enhancers," according to "DR Mixologist," the host of the Cooking Channel's Drink Up. He adds, "The true key to a successful holiday party is the host engaging their guests rather than being tied up fumbling around trying to keep the cocktails flowing," he says. So - mix your punch bowls before guests arrive.
Tip: DR Mixologist suggests batching margaritas, Bloody Marys and punches. They're festive, fun and easy to mix.
DR Mixologist's Easy Holiday Cocktail Recipe
- 1 750 ml Bottle Cachaca (common and found near rums)
- 1/3 750 ml Bottle Peach Liqueur
- 32 oz Mango Nectar
- 32 oz Pineapple Juice
- 1 1/2 Bottles Red Wine (Shiraz or your favorite blend)
- Lots of Seasonal Fresh Fruit
- Large Ice Mold (freeze ice in Tupperware or similar food-storage container)
Directions: Build cocktail in a punch bowl and add ice mold as your guests begin to arrive. Adjust measurements to taste.
Carmen Wong Ulrich, president and co-founder of Alta Wealth Management, knows how expensive hosting a holiday bash can be. "Lower your anxiety level by spreading around the party to attendees by asking them to each bring an item along a theme," she says. "For example, 'Bring your favorite bottle of wine for a blind taste test!'" By involving your guests when it comes to wine or party favors, you reduce your expenses and you help them connect.
Perspective is everything during the holidays, especially with high-maintenance in-laws and rowdy children at the dinner table. You love your family and friends, but there's a fine line between endearing and annoying. Whenever possible, choose to see the quality that drives you crazy in a more positive light. For instance, if you usually find your mother-in-law overbearing, try to see her actions as over-caring...at least for one night.
Tip: Keep your distance from truly toxic attendees. Maintaining healthy boundaries with your family is also important to practice during the holidays.
Andrea Syrtash is a dating and relationship expert and advice columnist. She's the author of "He's Just Not Your Type (And That's a Good Thing)"and "Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband)." For more, visit www.andreasyrtash.com