Party Planning: Holiday Bash


Eat, drink and be merry. That’s what the holidays are all about, right? This makes December the perfect time to throw a festive bash. I usually throw a holiday party every year, but sadly I won’t be able to this year due to a pretty hectic travel schedule. Needless to say, I figured I might as well put together a few of my best hostess tips and ideas to share with you. Maybe they will inspire you to throw your own holiday party?

First let’s start with the basics…

Invitations. Figure out how many people you are willing to accommodate and send out invitations with at least two weeks notice. I’m a big fan of paperless invitations such as and Going paperless is also the environmentally responsible thing to do.

Preparatory measures. If you host parties regularly, it’s worth investing in some simple glassware. We bought about 40 glasses from IKEA and use them every time we have a gathering at our home. They are far classier than plastic cups and less wasteful. I like to dress up basic glasses with striped straws or ribbons. Otherwise, I suggest stocking up on bamboo flatware and taking a cue from this glittery DIY.

Food. I love taking the best parts of childhood parties and translating them into a grown-up context. I usually like to serve finger foods. In fact, I found a cute idea online: Mini grilled cheeses with tomato soup. I bet these are a real crowd pleaser. Finger food is best because it minimizes dirty dishes and the pressure of timing a meal for a large group. Deli platters are usually a hit too. Go to your local deli and put together a nice meat and cheese platter. I always have the butcher slice the meat instead of buying the prepackaged kind because it looks and tastes so much better. If you’re not sure what to serve up in terms of sweets, I suggest setting up a self-serve s’more bar for dessert. It’s another childhood treat that most adults rarely indulge in. And what person isn’t happy with a s’more in hand?

Drinks. If you’re going to have a big group over, I recommend making a batch of cider punch in a punch bowl. In addition to a seasonal drink, I almost always serve a bowl of spiked lemonade as an alternative to the punch. It’s much easier than making one drink at a time and guests can easily serve themselves.

Now for the details…

Decor. Every party needs some sparkle. Try hanging strands of twinkling lights in each room. If was doing my party this year, I would probably make dozens of tissue garlands to stream throughout the house. I discovered these sweet garlands when I saw a member here on post a DIY about it to her profile page. I loved her idea so much that I featured the member and her instructions in a blog post, DIY: Tissue Paper Garland. Another easy decoration idea is to fill groupings of glass vases with holiday candies such as candy canes and peppermint pinwheels.

Lighting. Sprinkle the house with candles. It creates a warm, inviting ambience. Place tea lights in mason jars for a lovely glow that’s both safe and beautiful.

Make space. Don’t forget to move extra furniture to the perimeter walls and provide for plenty of seating.

Music. To keep the mood upbeat and festive kick off the night by playing plenty of classic, fun holiday tunes such as “Santa Baby,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause” and many more. As the night goes on transition to some fun dance music.

Say cheese! Don’t forget to set up a cute holiday themed photo booth. Click here to snag a few holiday printable photo booth props.

Remember. The key to being a good host is to be prepared, but to not get caught up in everything being perfect. You should enjoy your party. Drinks will spill, food will stain, and things will break… No party is perfect. The most important rule: Make sure you have plenty of food and drinks ready ahead of time and just have fun!

What’s on your holiday playlist?

XO Lauren

Photo: ThePosterlist

You might also like…

Tuesday Ten: Gifts for Him
Tuesday Ten: My Favorite Fall Frocks
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Helping Hand: Giving Thanks


Categories: Celebrate, Holiday Specials
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  • Melissa Panici

    I don’t plan on throwing a party this year but these are great ideas for when I do! I am going to a party for our work so I love the tips on finger food:)

  • Kellie Norton

    These are such great tips! I never get to through a holiday party because all of my friends, including me, go home for Christmas and everyone is busy studying for finals beforehand, oh well :) one of these days!!

  • Sarah Heckle

    I wish I was throwing a party this year, but we have too much traveling to do. I love the idea of stocking up on inexpensive glasses for parties, though. Red cups just aren’t classy! :)


  • Angela bergen

    I just threw a little Christmas dinner party this past weekend! And it was lots of fun! My glasses were funnily enough from Ikea, and I made the Pilgram Punch that you featured a few weeks ago. Everyone loved it! My only regret after reading this, is not doing the self-serve s’mores! That’s a wonderful idea. Oh well…I shall keep it in mind for my next soiree. Cheers! X

  • Stacie Grissom

    I’ve been listening to the new She & Him Christmas album! It’s so, so good! :)

    How to make a simple bow:

  • Kimmy S

    Oh I really like this post–it’s super helpful! I’m def PINNING this to my party board in Pinterest since you’ve shared so many great tips.

  • Petra Zeller

    That’s is really something I search a long time. This is perfect! Thank you so much Lauren for this great Ideas. You are awesome!

    xoxo, Petra

  • Anna James

    all great tips. Thanks Lauren. I’d love if you’d check out my Little Black Dress Holiday Party Survival post. xo

  • Cherie LaFlamme

    Great ideas! I’m referencing this page for my next holiday party!

    – Cher

  • Tiffani Stuart

    I love non-traditional Christmas music… I used to work retail years ago, so the “”traditional”” old-timey stuff annoys me! (Thank you, MUZAK) So, I have a very contemporary version of Mariah Carey, Chris Brown, 98degrees (don’t judge me, ha ha), and of course Charlie Brown’s Christmas (never gets old) & a lot of my other favorites singing Christmas/Wintery songs… I find this helps me celebrate without having flash-backs of working retail, lol.

  • Megan Alvarado

    Great post!!

  • Samhita

    LAUREN!! this post is JUST WHAT I NEEDED TODAY!!! i am super stressed out about my upcoming holiday party in just under two weeks and these tips are going to be SO HELPFUL!!

  • tinamarie

    michael buble & taylor swift, oh can’t forget NSYNC (:

  • Danni

    Great tips, I especially like the photo booth idea :)

  • Christina Akin

    I love the mini grilled cheese and tomato soup shooters. I actually had these as one of the appetizers during the cocktail hour of my wedding! I am not hosting a holiday party this year, but I am hosting a Christmas breakfast and want to make it really festive and special. I love the Pandora Christmas station because it plays a variety of songs from Nat King Cole to Mariah Carey. It is really a crowd pleaser.

  • Jamie Winters

    This is so helpful! I’m trying to plan a Christmas for my fiances’ family, our roommates’ mom and sister, and for my parents. One big Christmas at our house this year (nice for everyone else, but no one is willing to give any input, only to help supply so I get to be the planner, which is fun and exciting, just a little hectic)! Although it’s not traditional, I was thinking a potluck of finger foods, and maybe some soups or something like that. So the mini grilled cheese is perfect! :)

    Anyone have suggestions for maybe an affordable, perhaps DIY, parting favor that I could double as a small Christmas gift?

  • Shellz

    evertyhing you post is super helpful and gives me great ideas!! Thanx tema LC!! I love this site!

  • Sheena Harsh

    i am proud to announce that i hosted my first successful holiday party over the weekend! with many thanks to Lauren and the other girls on this site! I did go to Ikea and bought about 30 cute glasses (BUT after the fact, i realized that THE DOLLAR STORE sells similar ones for only $1 each!), and @tiffani stuart, i agree on the whole music thing, i really like SHE AND HIM (holiday) sation on pandora <3 we had an extensive cheese and meat spread, caprese on a stick and yummy kebabs! i set up a cute back drop with fun props as well which was a huge hit! :) :)



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