The holidays are a wonderful time to catch up with family and friends, and one of the best ways to get into the spirit of the season is to throw a holiday party! Even if you don’t host friends regularly year-round, everyone’s inner host or hostess comes out as the holidays roll around. But the trick for entertaining with a smile is to keep things festive but still relaxed — so I’ve pulled together a few of my favorite tips for holiday hostessing!
Set the Tone with a Festive Theme
Holiday parties come in all shapes and sizes: from a fancy catered office party to having a few girls over at home. If cocktail parties are your thing, go right ahead, but also consider some outside-the-box that your friends will enjoy: anything from a cookie-decorating party, a tree-trimming bash, or a girls night in with your favorite holiday movies.
Think Beyond Saturday Night
Inevitably, everyone wants to throw their holiday party on the same Saturday night: before everyone goes out of town, but after everyone gets into the feel of the season. Unfortunately, that means that people get booked for those prime holiday weekends way in advance, and your guests will likely be party-hopping all night. My solution? Pick an “off” night — a Thursday or Friday evening or even a Sunday afternoon — to avoid fighting for prime holiday hours and ensure all your friends can be in attendance!
Serve a Signature Beverage
Sure, you can serve wine and beer and call it day… but this is a holiday party, so why not try something a little more creative? One way to enjoy festive drinks (but not turn yourself into a one-woman bartender all night) is to pick one signature beverage and do the prep work ahead of time. If you’re serving, say, mulled cider with cinnamon sticks and a splash of Kahlúa (and now that I’ve mentioned it, gosh, doesn’t that sound like the perfect thing to serve?), you can prep it a day in advance and then just warm it up before your guests arrive.
Get a Helping Hand
And on that note: if you’re having more than, say, twenty people, consider getting a little help. A helping hand can go a long way, whether it’s some prepared food that you pick up before the party, a bartender to make sure everyone’s glass is full throughout the night, or hiring a cleaning service to swing by the next morning.
When the Doorbell Rings, Enjoy Your Own Party!
It’s tempting to be the perfect hostess who stays up all night whipping up canapes from scratch, and some of us really enjoy spending time and energy on homemade treats. But, you know what? Your guests might oooh and aaah over those fancy dishes you spent hours on, but at the end of the day, what they really want is time with you. Not the exhausted, up-all-night, can’t-leave-the-table-unattended-for-ten-seconds you, but the you who’s ready to catch up, to ask them how work is going, and to sip a cocktail with a smile. Sure, parties take work, but they should be fun, too. Don’t be too busy throwing your holiday party to enjoy it.
You know my favorite part of every party? When there are a few friends left, at the very end of the night. When you’re done answering the door and refilling people’s drinks, and you can just sit down, relax and just talk. And you know what? That’s the best time for one last drink, that you can sip slowly and linger with over good conversation. So for that moment, when it’s just a few of your good friends left, when you want to keep the party going a little while longer, I give you: the Midnight Kiss.
The Midnight Kiss
4 parts hot coffee
1 part Kahlúa
1 part vanilla vodka
1 part skim milk
Stir together the Kahlúa, coffee, vodka, and milk and pour into teacups. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, and serve.
The best cocktails are sipped responsibly. When you’re hosting holiday parties and all year round, don’t overindulge and never drink and drive!
Disclosure: I have been compensated for this post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.