The holidays are on their way and you’ve decided to host a holiday party! Yes, for a short while your home has the potential to descend into utter chaos, and whether your guests are staying a few hours or a few weeks, the whole event will go more smoothly with the right plan in place.
Creating your holiday party plan depends a lot on the size of your home and the number of guests you have coming. If you start with the tips below, however, you’ll be able to host your party without a hitch.
- Make Lists. Be sure to plan ahead — be sure you have covered all the bases: decorations, gifts, appetizers, meal planning, desserts, and drinks should all be considered in advance. Learn whether you will be inviting guests with special dietary needs sooner rather than later. If you’re unable to accommodate your guests, you may be able to ask them to bring something to share.
- Make it A Team Effort. If you try to tackle all of the party preparations yourself, you’ll be exhausted by the time the big event arrives. From getting the family to help clean the house beforehand, to asking friends to be in charge of the wine, a covered dish, or a dessert, don’t be afraid to lean on the people closest to you. Make it a family affair and give everyone a task based on their age and interests. Plan a special celebration when the party is over and your entire family will be on board quickly.
- Not All Rooms Are Created Equal. In an ideal world, your entire house would be spotless before your guests arrive. The truth is, they won’t see some of the rooms in your home — so don’t waste your efforts cleaning those. Start with the areas you know will see the highest traffic, like the kitchen, the family room, and the bathrooms, then work backward from there. You’ll feel better about where you are in the grand scheme of things if those essential rooms are done first.
- Control The Seating Areas. If you want to stem the chaos in your home, start with a plan to guide your guests to designated interaction areas. If you want people to visit in the kitchen, make sure counters are clear and chairs are situated around the table or island. If you want the bulk of your social activity to take place in the living room or den, bring in extra chairs and place them in a circle facing each other, the television, or the fire place. This way no one will feel left out.
- Prepare for Overnight Guests. Whether you expect guests to spend the night or it happens at the last minute, it’s a good idea to prepare extra space just in case. If you have a spare bedroom, dress it with new sheets and make sure the creature comforts are working, like the television and the alarm clock. If you don’t have a guest bedroom or you’re expecting more guests than you have bedroom space for, make sure to have plenty of clean bedsheets and pillows on hand so you can turn an extra couch or two into a comfortable place to rest. Once the sleeping arrangements are ready, focus on the bathroom. Make sure it’s clean and then add things like soap, toothpaste, and a nightlight for those late-night travels in unfamiliar territory.
- Cut Down on the Dishes. When it comes to guests and dishes, more does not always mean merrier. To ensure you’re not running the dishwasher day and night, find festive disposable or recyclable options for plates, cups, and silverware. These alternatives not only save you from spending your entire night in the kitchen, but they also encourage your guests to mingle casually and are perfect for preventing any broken dishes.
- Check Your Serving Pieces. If you plan on having a more formal sit-down meal, make sure you have enough china and serving ware (large spoons, ladles, spatulas, etc.) to accommodate a group that may be two or three times your normal size. Adding matching pieces is the best way to ensure you have enough pieces, but if you can’t find those, look for a festive set that complements your holiday party without breaking your seasonal budget.
- Prepare for Murphy's Law. At every event, there’s always something that gets broken or spilled. Plan for this by removing all valuable pieces from the gathering space — or at least from any precarious positions. And make sure to have a bottle of your favorite stain remover on hand. Being able to clean up the mess easily will make your guest feel better about their not-so-surprising accident.
A holiday party can be a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. Follow the steps listed above to get a jump on your party preparations and you’ll find the entire season is a little more merry.