The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s house party time! We love a good holiday party, but we also know how overwhelming they can be. From your Thanksgiving gathering to your New Year’s soiree, we’ve got some must-know tips to help you plan.
Let’s start with the food. Are you hosting a sit-down dinner or a casual cocktail party? Are you hiring a caterer or doing it all yourself? Those are the first two questions to ask yourself before you start planning. The answers will affect your guest list, your theme, and your menu choices. A cocktail party will usually be easier. You can set the food out and let guests help themselves throughout the night.
For any party with more than 30 guests, we recommend hiring a caterer or at least hiring a server. Not only does that cover some of the food prep, but having a server or two to manage the food will allow you to enjoy your own party.
When it comes to actually picking out the foods to serve, you can’t go wrong with beef, chicken, and a vegetarian option. You’ll know your guests better than we do, but it’s always safe to have a gluten-free option available as well. As an added safeguard and courtesy to your guests, detailed signage for all your food is a must.
Now it’s time to plan the drinks. For the first hour of your event, you can assume that each guest will have two drinks. For every hour following that, you should plan for about a drink and a half per guest. If you don’t want to have a full bar, wine and a specialty cocktail that fits your theme will work. Always have two reds and two whites for wine. As for a specialty cocktail, have some fun! For a chilly winter night, your guests would love a classic Hot Toddy or perhaps a unique Cranberry and Cinnamon Whiskey Sour.
Finally, you can get down to some details. The details are what will set your event apart from yet another ugly sweater party. Be creative with your color palette. Golds and purples are underrepresented in the winter season, but add a fun elegance to your decor without getting off-season. Hiring a server? Have them greet guests at the door with that fun cocktail you planned. This will kick off the party with the right mood and pleasantly surprise your guests.
There are some details that simply have to go on your to-do list. Rent or borrow a coat rack instead of piling the jackets somewhere hidden. Salt the sidewalk outside your door to prevent an accident. And then there are details that just give a little something extra. Consider an interactive food station where your guests can see food being prepped. One example might be watching sushi rolled in front of them. Set up some great lighting that will make sure your guests look good for photos. (Hot tip: EVERYONE looks good in amber lighting.)
While you’re all wrapped up in the fun and creativity of putting together your event, make sure to get the invites out ASAP. Ten weeks in advance is not too early. Those holiday calendars fill up fast. And make sure you ask for RSVPs for both yes and no about four weeks before the party.
The final and most important tip of all is to have fun! Why throw a party that you can’t enjoy? Get all this planning done in advance so that you can have a great time with your friends and family.
And that’s where we come in. No party is too big or too small to have an event-planning team handy. The best part? We’ll be there on the day-of to see that set-up and food prep runs smoothly so that you can take your time getting ready and be waiting with a drink in hand when the first guest graces your doorstep.