Ideas for Christmas Parties - Party Hosting Ideas for Holidays
Have an annual Christmas party!
Christmas parties can be really fun and really festive! But . . . beware, or having one may turn into a tradition that you keep doing every year. That happened to me in the late 90s when i had my brother and a handful of graduate school buddies over to the house after finals to enjoy the Christmas tree lights. The next year, I had a pretty big bash, and the event kept growing and going every year.
The group kept changing over the years, with grad friends, family, friends from other parts of my life, and, later, coworkers from my subsequent jobs. For over ten years, I held up this tradition. I'm missed a couple of years in the last several years but am tentatively planning to have one again this holiday season.
The great thing about putting together an annual party is looking forward to seeing certain people at least once a year--folks that you otherwise do not see.
Have a Christmas party theme!
Having a theme is just a suggestion. I have never had a major theme except for the dress code, which was dress-up attire. People have typically arrived dressed up in pants and dresses, even the children. My best friend from grad school was my co-host in the early party years. She and I opted for long velvet dresses one year, setting the tone.
I'm thinking of doing something different this year--maybe comfy clothes, even pajamas as the attire. Maybe we'll have an "I survived the end of the world on Dec 21st" party. I thought also about having a party in January and encouraging people to bring their rejected Christmas gifts to re-gift.
Have a theme or not. It might be fun!
Send invitations early
Send invitations early in order for those invited to have a heads up on when to clear their calendars. I usually send a "save the date" email right after Thanksgiving for a December party, earlier if the party is the first weekend in December.
And, yes, you can email invitations. In this electronic age, a mass email is entirely acceptable. Don't feel that you have to send written invitations. Facebook also has a feature in which you can "create an event." You just fill in the details, send it to your invitees, and wait for them to respond. There may be a few people who require a phone call if they don't check email or have Facebook. Sometimes I have sent out a text message to certain people to tell them, "Check your email!"
Follow up your "save the date" message with the official invitation (email or otherwise) with details between one and two weeks before the party.
What to include on the invitations
What information should you include on your invitations? Here are the basics:
- date and day of week (so people don't have to go to the calendar to see which day it is)
- starting and end time. In grad school, sometimes we would go from 2:00 p.m. (after our last final) until 2:00 a.m. Woo hoo! Those hours definitely changed over the years. I usually put "6:00 p.m. until ?" to leave it open-ended. The late folks generally stay until about midnight.
- address and directions
- where to park
- what to wear
- what to bring--In the lean college years, everyone brought something. After I got a real job, I started providing most of the food myself, giving the option if people wanted to bring something. Let people know if there will be alcohol or if they should BYOB.
- if children are welcome--My nieces grew up at my parties. The more the merrier, I say. I like to set up a room with toys for the kids--Barbies, books, cards, even Twister!
- fun events to expect--Karaoke? Door prizes? Games? You might list some things to pique the interest of your guests.
Christmas party games and activities
Come up with a few fun activities for the night if you want to spice things up. I like to give out name tags with numbers on them. Every hour or so, we'll draw a door prize winner. Prizes are generally things I've picked up at the dollar store--singing Christmas ties, reindeer ears, Rudolph noses, to name a few. If you have an outgoing friend who will make guests feel welcome right away, ask them if they want to be the one to make sure everyone gets a name tag. One of my friends had that job one year; she was engaging, funny, and made everyone feel comfortable when as the hostess, I couldn't get to them right away.
I always set up Karaoke for the folks who want to participate This activity usually gets going later in the evening. Sometimes we start earlier, as this activity is something that kids also enjoy.
Another option is to exchange gifts. Since everyone probably won't bring a gift, the ones who do could exchange. You could also have some extra wrapped inexpensive things for those who don't bring anything.
An activity I may do this year is take a photo of everyone in a certain spot, perhaps even with a funny backdrop.
Put Christmas decorations EVERYWHERE--inside and outside. Get a friend to help if you can. Hold mini-preseason get-togethers with egg nog and snacks, and do some decorating!
Lights line my house and the sidewalk to the front door, where guests are greeted by a life-size Grinch! All the rooms the guests will visit are decorated. I have tubs of decorations in the shed that I've collected over the years, marked with what they contain and in what room the decorations go, which speeds up the decorating process a bit. Still, it's a job to create your fantasy winter wonderland!
Of course, you'll have lots of food available. I find finger foods to be the best--veggies and dip, fruit and dip, meatballs or little wienies on toothpicks, and deviled eggs. Christmas tortilla pinwheels with salsa are also always a hit with guests. I purchased a chocolate fountain several years ago, and that was a favorite attraction. See my Christmas party appetizers for all of these ideas and more
Have a variety of appetizers, and plenty of them. Chances are some of your guests will bring dishes to fill in the gaps, if there are any. I always have coffee, homemade egg nog, sometimes hot apple cider, and a few soft drinks available.
A lot of these items can be prepared the day before and kept in the refrigerator. That way, you can focus on last minute preparations the day of the party.
Christmas photo album
A new idea I've had but haven't yet started is to make a photo album of all the previous Christmas parties. Although I've taken pictures of the house and my guests every year, I have yet to organize these photos. Photo albums of previous Christmas gatherings are something I would love to have for guests to go through and reminisce if they have attended in the past.
Play Christmas music
Make sure you have Christmas music playing in the background. From Elvis to Jewel to various artists, have an assortment. I have my top twelve favorites, but I have many more in my collection.
And when the party's over . . . .
With all the cleaning, preparing, and partying, you are sure to be worn out after it's all over. I usually experience what I like to call "post-party depression." It came, it happened, but now it's over. Nothing's left but the memories and the mess in the kitchen.
Still, many will talk about your epic Christmas parties for years to come.
I'd better get started with my decorating!