Holiday Party Planning Tips

by Courtney El-Ghoul

Let’s talk about Holiday Party Planning. I am already starting to plan our annual holiday party and you should start planning yours now as well. No, it is not too early. I promise. 

Party Planning Tips

If you know Khalil and me, it’s no secret that we love to entertain. Whether it’s a fun Summer BBQ Party, Birthday Party, New Year’s Eve, or any Holiday… you name it we have probably hosted it at our house. We love creating a fun environment for our friends and family to come together and mingle – we love it so much that a huge deciding factor in purchasing our current home was how good a hosting spot it would be. As much fun as it is, you can probably imagine the amount of work that goes into making it happen. Holy Stress. Over the years we have learned a thing or two about planning and organizing when hosting that will help things flow smoothly before and during your event. 

So – I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some of these things I have picked up over my years and years of planning holiday parties.  

Tips for Planning & Hosting an Amazing Party!

Here we go… 

  1. Give yourself plenty of time! I would suggest sending invites and starting to plan at least three to four weeks before the party date. The winter holidays, in particular, get very busy, so you want to get your invite out asap so you get the best turnout. Paperless Post are the easiest, and they always look so nice.
  2. The ultimate playlist- Oh my goodness a good playlist for your party changes everything. Depending on the theme, you’ll want to spend some time on this. For our Holiday party last year we had the perfect mix of just enough Holiday tunes mixed in with popular current hits. Music changes the mood. People feel relaxed, & when a good song is playing it just changes your whole vibe. If you aren’t up for making a list from scratch you can use Spotify to find other peoples playlists – and make modifications to suit your crowd. 
  3. A festive atmosphere is always important – This one is particularly important for the winter holiday parties. You want to make a statement both outside and inside. We always go a little overboard with the decorations, but people notice, and it makes the party so much more exciting. Lighting is probably the most impactful part inside & out. Outside you’ve got more space to work with and your lighting can be more overt. Inside, you want it to be subtle but super impactful. I LOVE Copper Wire LED Lights . They are discrete, last forever, and they don’t get hot. You can find great ideas for uses on Pinterest. If I am being honest, the decorating is my favorite part 😉 
  4. More is always better when it comes to food. You can have it catered, I’ve done it – it’s great, but it’s not necessary. I love to take advantage of how thoughtfully curated the party platters are at places like Whole Foods, Wegmans, and other grocery stores. They are super fresh and so easy. We always order more that we think we need because people tend to eat later at our parties. After a few cocktails, they are more relaxed and ready to chow down. I also like to have replenishment stuff ready to go before we get started. It’s nice to have fresh stuff to replenish what is out throughout the party, into the evening. So I will pre-chop extra veggies, fruit, cheeses, and meats and portion them out, in Tupperware, in the fridge. That way if we see something is low we can just grab it and fill without making a mess or disruption. 
    • Pro-Tip: People always ask to bring something, so you can always say bring your favorite dessert or Holiday treat to make it festive. Without disrupting your food flow. 
  5. If it’s in the budget – get a bartender! We did not do this for some past parties and I regretted it. For the amount of money you are probably already spending on everything else, this will be a drop in the bucket and will be worth so much more. When you are running around pouring drinks and making cocktails you miss out on the whole point of getting everyone together in the first place. You want to be able to enjoy yourself and get to talk to your friends and family. If you have a local bar/restaurant that you go to regularly – ask your favorite bartender! They will appreciate the extra work, and if they can’t do it they will have a TON of other people they can ask for you. 
  6. Have a signature cocktail. It’s a great conversation starter and can get the ball rolling on lightening the mood, it’s an icebreaker, and they look so pretty! Especially the Holiday ones. You can find so many great ideas for festive drinks on Pinterest. Or, your bartender can come up with a few 🙂 If you are feeling extra-fancy … you can make a menu in Canva and get it printed. It doesn’t take a lot of time, skill, or cost much but makes a great impression. 
  7. Valet… Yes Please 🙂 Okay another one that may not be in the budget, but again it can make a massive difference if parking is difficult where you live. You don’t have the stress of everyone texting and calling to ask “where do I park?” Then, the hassle of moving cars when people start to leave. Plus, if your neighborhood has funky rules about parking – or parking limits… this will let your guests relax and not have to worry about monitoring. 
  8. Adults only if you can – Hey you, making those judgey eyes. Cool it, ha. I love my kids, but sometimes it is nice to catch up with friends and have a drink without everyone worrying about their kids being messy, loud, or needing to go home for bed. For you and your guests with children, it will be a nice break. As parents, we could all use a few more adult conversations and a few fewer bathroom questions – everyone will appreciate the opportunity to take a break.

Lastly, Have Fun! Planning a party can be stressful, but you can make so many memories and it will become a tradition your family/friends look forward too.

What about you guys? Are you party planners? Any tips you have as we dive into the holiday party season?



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