Holiday Party Guide: Throwing a Seasonal Soirée

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I’m not sure how this happened, but I have become the designated party-thrower in my circle of friends. I usually host at least two events per year (birthday + Halloween…minimum), but this year, I majorly slacked. Plus, S threw me a surprise party for my birthday, so technically that counts as 1. I say it like it’s a bad thing, but quite honestly, I love hosting parties. When I go to get-togethers, I tend to be the one who awkwardly shows people around a house that isn’t mine or offers food that I’m not sure we’re supposed to eat. The hostess gene must be in my blood or something, who knows.


This year I decided to have a classic and cocktail-heavy Holiday Party, and seeing as how this is my fifth Christmas event over the past decade, I’ve drafted up a list of my major tips and tricks for efficient seasonal party planning:


Sure, Facebook events are convenient and a great way to send out mass messages last minute, but
printed invites add an element of class and personalization for your guests. Instead of being 1 of 450 “Not Yet Responded,” it lets people know you took the time to address an envelope and spent $.45
because you want them to come to your event. Plus, guests are much more inclined to actually RSVP, which alleviates the last-minute stress of estimating a headcount (4 attending, 2 not attending, 250 not yet responded=?).
‘Tis the season to be grateful for what we have and to help those who need it. This year, my friend R and
I will be choosing an entire class from an underprivileged elementary school and will ask guests to bring 4 small presents for each child. While this is my first time creating my own “Angel Tree,” I’m beyond excited to get my friends involved. We’re asking each guest to bring 4 things for a child of their
choosing (based off of age, gender, and wish list)… 1 thing they want, 1 thing they need, 1 thing they can read, 1 thing they can wear.
Whether it be a band, a background movie, drinking games, karaoke, dinner, etc… look at your guest
list, and pick what you think everyone would enjoy. Mingling and good company alone won’t continually do it… you’re always going to have those wallflowers who are looking to physically engage in an activity, not a conversation. Since I run with a hip and young crowd, I always choose a fun playlist and play what I’d like to consider “classy” holiday drinking games (we drink wine, not beer… ok?).
The bottom line is that people want to help out the hostess. If you’re like me, you’ll never ask people to
“throw in” money for alcohol or food. Unless you’re throwing a college keg party, I just think it’s tacky. It’s guaranteed that at least a few people will offer, but feel comfortable reaching out and asking friends to bring food, drinks, etc. Odds are, most guests will feel awkward not bringing something.
The hostess is supposed to impress; it’s just how it is. Make sure everyone is aware of the dress code, whatever you wish it to be, and then find an outfit that stands out and prepare to be in 15308 pictures. I’ve already started a Holiday Cocktail Attire board on Pinterest to keep outfits in mind for my big night.
I’ll be honest, this is mostly inspired from Pinterest. Make sure you create one or two locations which will
produce perfect pictures. This year, I’m thinking of doing a gold and white chevron balloon wall as a backdrop and then keeping the Christmas tree as the other designated photo op. Not only will guests appreciate this added amenity, but you’ll also have some great pictures to remember your party by.
Decorate the night before… or much earlier. Nothing makes a host or hostess crazier than trying to clean, cook, get ready, AND decorate all at once.  Plan your schedule accordingly, and do what you can early.
If you can afford one, hire a professional photographer– but I think it’s a silly expense (unless you’re getting married or are throwing a high-dollar milestone event). Now-a-days, people have professional high-megapixel cameras that can take phenomenal photographs from an amateur photographer, like moi. Ask a non-social butterfly if they wouldn’t mind snapping a few pictures throughout the evening. It’ll give them something to do, which is great for people who aren’t natural conversationalists, and they’ll most likely have a lot of fun with it.
I’m all for partying, but safety comes first. Unless guests have already committed to staying at your place, make sure nobody who’s driving is getting out of control.
Remember the reason you’re throwing the party in the first place, and enjoy yourself! Sure, little things
come up that drive you crazy, but if someone is giving you a hard time about coming or your brother eats all of the food beforehand (it’s happened), stop sweating and cherish the time you have with your friends and family.


Now if i can only follow my own tips, this year’s cocktail party should be a breeze! Invitations go out next week– yay! Who else is planning on throwing a holiday event? What are your tips?

29 thoughts on “Holiday Party Guide: Throwing a Seasonal Soirée

  1. valmg

    I like to entertain but am not into the fancy, I prefer casual and relaxed.
    My tips are keep it simple, and do things to keep it simple like using disposable instead of doing dishes.

  2. Young Yoga Masters

    Great reminders.

    I've gotten out of the habit of big parties and have been focusing on get togethers with a couple of my close friends. We are all so busy it is hard to even get 3 of us together. When we do we have a pot luck around a theme just to keep it interesting and inspire us. next week we're meeting for a day and doing cookie baking together.

    But for the big party each year – I agree with your idea of the entertainment especially because it helps people mingle.

    1. Stephanie Ziajka

      Pot lucks are awesome and make significantly less work for the hostess… which is wonderful in my book! Cookie baking would be fun, too 🙂 I may have to have some girlfriends over for an unofficial cookie baking party now! Thanks for the tips!



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