When it really comes down to it, a holiday gathering is all about being with good friends. Good music, good food, and lots of laughs will always make for a good time. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Besides, trying too hard to make a soiree fun just won’t work. If you want to wow your guests, don’t worry about becoming Martha Stewart – keep it simple with these holiday party-planning tips.
First of all, don’t feel like you have to adhere to anyone’s idea of a “proper cocktail party”. It’s just a social gathering, not some rigidly scheduled event – it should be about letting your hair down and having fun. Do it how you want. Your friends will have more fun when you’re just being yourself, not “playing hostess.”
Set the scene the easy way. Lots of tea lights create a warming atmosphere, or hang some icicle lights inside. Create a centerpiece on your coffee table with some winter foliage or garland and vases filled with pinecones or silver ornament balls.
Don’t spend too much time in the kitchen. Easy and quick DIY appetizers include shrimp rings, a wheel of brie baked with maple syrup and pecans, bread sticks, veggies and dip, and some homemade cookies if you’re up for it. If your friends ask if they can bring something, say sure. Just be prepared that some of them might need to invade your kitchen and use your oven / counter space, etc.
Just because you’re the hostess doesn’t mean you need to splurge on a bottle of Petron. Your signature cocktail can be as simple as a sparkling white sangria with floating cranberry garnish, or eggnog and rum (set up some glass mugs with a maple syrup and brown sugar rimmer before guests arrive). Stick a bunch of beers and wine coolers in to a bucket filled with ice if you want to offer an alternative.
Your playlist should consist of a mix of cheesy / nostalgic holiday songs you can all laugh about and your current favourite songs. Make it long enough that you won’t have to fumble around with your iTunes during the party.
For a fun bonus to your shindig, print out some paper Santa beard masks and get elf hats or Rudolph noses and have a photo op, or buy a gingerbread house making kit and build a sweet masterpiece altogether. You may be surprised how hilarious these are after a few sparkling sangrias.