By: Butch Ewing
December 2, 2013
It’s that time of year again. Everyone around you is throwing a holiday party. So how can you make yours stand out? You want to throw an amazing party that people will remember, but you don’t want to break the bank. So how do you do this and still enjoy the festivities? Here are some essential factors to consider when planning your holiday party.
The venue where you choose to host your party is completely dependent on all the other factors you want to incorporate. You have to take into account the size of the party, the number of guests and all the accoutrements you would like to have at your event.
Is it a small event with rowdy people? Is it a good enough weather to host a party outdoors? Is your home large enough to host a party or do you need to rent a space? Will you have to sacrifice certain elements in order to host the party in your home?
These are all crucial questions to begin asking yourself as you start your planning process. Make sure to map out your party beforehand because it will become clear early on whether or not you should seek an outside venue or use your own home.
Food is a critical part of any get-together. It is the element that gets your guests enjoying the party longer, an easy conversation starter and a good distraction for those who might otherwise indulge. The food selection can be taken care of in two ways. You can hire a catering company to take full charge of feeding your hungry guests, or save some cash by cooking the food yourself.
If you choose to take on the challenge of the latter, be sure to cook ahead of time! Yes, this is quite obvious, but you really need to take the time to plan this far in advance. Choose foods that can be prepared either the day before or morning of the event. Ideally you want to prepare all of your food in advance, leaving you with the small task of popping it in the oven right before serving. You don’t want to spend half of your time working in the kitchen adding touches to complicated dishes.
Pick recipes carefully. Make sure they require little work on the day of the event. To make your dishes look upscale, spend time during the morning before the event working on the presentation. Add garnish to a dish or place food items on beautiful platters while arranging it elegantly. There are many ways to make your event look like a million dollar gathering without actually having to dish out the dough.
The key to having a great drink menu is options. You know your guests better than anyone else, so be sure to have their favorite beverages fully stocked. The more variety you can offer, the better.
To save you time from having to cater to every guest’s needs, set up a bar or hire a bartender.
To create the perfect bar setup, you need to find a surface in your home that is big enough to host all of the mixes for your guest’s concoctions. *To avoid permanent damage, make sure this surface is above hardwood floors, as opposed to the carpet, in case of any spills*. In addition to your booze and mixes, stock the bar with ice buckets so people can make any drink right from the bar without having to make trips to and from the kitchen area. Place multiple types of cocktail glasses from martini to champagne flutes; make sure your guests have the options. Put out shakers, shot glasses and stirrers so people can mix their drinks like a pro. Lastly, add a variety of garnishes such as orange peels, olives, limes and more so people can really become a Mixologists.
Don’t plan on everyone wanting to booze at your party, there has to be a designated driver in the mix somewhere. In order to please everyone, have some fun non-alcoholic drinks for your guests. There may be mixers that your guests can sip on, but try to provide something more unique. Offer Martinellis for a festive feel or an option of a non-alcoholic punch bowl. This is especially important if you are inviting children to your holiday party. Allowing kids to drink similar looking beverages as adults makes them feel more included in the party.
Unless you had a past (or present) career as a DJ, music can be a tough task for a party. Depending on the type of gathering you are throwing, you need to choose upbeat music to get people dancing and at the very least, to prevent your guests from falling asleep. Choose music that is great for all ages. You want everyone to have a great time at your party, and that means you have to understand your audience.
There are a couple of options when it comes to selecting music. You can create a playlist beforehand, but this runs into an issue if your party goes longer than planned – as you will be forced to repeat music or scramble for new tunes.
Another option is to hire a great live band that can appeal to all audiences. Although a live band is definitely the pricier option, it is always worth the investment. People always remember a great show. There is something about a band that gets people dancing and letting loose. Hiring a band can also take the pressure completely off your shoulders, allowing you to relish in your hard work. You just have to give them guidelines for music, and the rest is up to them. A live band is a sure fire way to make your party unforgettable.
Kind of a strange thought, we know. But lighting is essential. Lighting can instantly set the mood of any get together. If it is a mellow event, use dim lighting to create the ambiance. If there are specific rooms where you want people to gather and let loose, make those rooms brighter than the rest of the venue. Brighter lights will automatically attract people and create a more exciting mood while dimmer lights will have a calming effect on your guests.
Map out the rooms of your venue and where each activity will take place. Whether you want the bar to be in the same area as the dance room or you want people to make drinks in one room and meander to other rooms to mingle. Use lighting as a way to guide guests through the party.
Of course, guests are the most crucial part of any party. Make sure there is somewhat of a flow to where your guests should gather. Think about what you want your guests to do upon arrival. Should they stand around sipping cocktails or will there be an area for them to sit and hang out? Be sure that the setup of your party leads them to the correct location.
Upon arrival, have an area where guests can place their coats or purses. You don’t want to get caught running around because you have nowhere to put these large items. Be sure this room or closet is easily accessible to all guests, so you don’t end up having to work half your evening as a coat checker.
Don’t let your furniture be awkward. Arrange furniture so that guests can relax and still have the option to be social. Think about which ways your chairs, tables, and sofas are facing. Is there a place for guests to place their drinks while chatting it up on the couch? Is there a chair sitting alone in a corner that will just go completely unused? Don’t make your guests have to move their own furniture, think about the arrangement beforehand.
There are many little details to be aware of when hosting a party at your own home (especially during the winter months).
Although it may be freezing outside, turning up the heat in your home will cause the space to become extremely uncomfortable when guests start filing in. Keep the heat to a cooler level than you normally would, and once guests come in, the rooms are sure to heat up.
Along with making sure the temperature is comfortable, open up some windows in the early afternoon so fresh air can fill your home. This will prevent your home from getting too stuffy. It will also circulate air around while freshening up the scent of your home.
Parties can be the best part of the holiday season. Be sure to plan ahead so you don’t get stuck having to work through your party and miss out on all the fun. Make it a night to remember for your guests! For more party tips, check out our Pinterest page for tips on planning birthdays, weddings, events and more.