This post contains all of the secrets to throwing a low-key, fun, and festive party this holiday season! Read on for appetizer recipes, decorating tips, drinks to try, playlist ideas, and more.
COVID DISCLAIMER: Although many of us are fortunate to be vaccinated/boosted, our global pandemic is very much in effect. I highly encourage thoughtful planning with this in mind, in order to keep yourself and your guests as safe as possible. This post details some general guidelines around hosting a crowd during COVID times, along with how to determine what is best for you. All of these recipes can be scaled down to serve 1-2 people.
Table of Contents (click each title to skip to that section):
Crowd-Pleasing Appetizer Recipes to Make
Festive Drink Recipes:
If you’re looking for something really easy (who isn’t this time of year), be sure to sign up for my email list to download my Guide to 3-Ingredient Cocktails!
Holiday Party Playlist Ideas
Check out these Spotify party-ready mixes! Whatever you’re in the mood for, this list has something for everyone.
- Christmas Cocktail Jazz
- The Nutcracker Soundtrack
- Hanukkah Classics
- Christmas Classics
- Country Christmas
- Christmas Pop
- Christmas Coffee House
- Kwanzaa Habari Gani
- Hip Hop Christmas
Holiday Party Decorating Tips
- Use fresh evergreens as centerpieces on longer tables.
- Twinkle lights can be very festive when placed correctly. Instead of hanging them off of the wall, consider placing in a vase on a table for a more elegant look.
- Pay attention to lighting. Try to avoid ceiling lights as much as possible, relying instead on (safely placed) candles and table lamps.
- Set up the drink station in an easily accessible portion of the room, away from appetizers.
- Be sure to have plenty of utensils, plates, and napkins available right next to the food. Bonus points for eco-friendly reusable materials! In COVID and regular times, it never hurts to have a discreet bottle of hand sanitizer available nearby (or a sign directing guests to the restroom if they’d like to wash their hands).
Making Your Guests Feel Welcome
When guests walk in, direct them to an area for outerwear/coats. Feel free to have a helper stash larger jackets in another room if you do not have much closet space. When I attend a party, I always find it helpful to know if I’m visiting a “shoes on” or “shoes off” household. As a host, feel free to set your preference from the get-go. If you are a strict “no shoes” household, offering new slippers to attendees is a nice way to make people feel comfortable. I know most people prefer shoes-on (I get it, it makes the outfit), but this just a suggestion!
Everyone likes to feel useful. Feel free to delegate certain prep items to anyone who asks. Also, you can never have too much ice. If someone offers to volunteer to bring something and you feel food is covered, ice is always a good idea.
Depending on how many people you have in attendance, be sure to circulate and introduce any smaller groups that may not know one another. Everyone knows you but they likely want to get acquainted with other attendees. Finding a common interest between parties is a great place to start. For example:
“Hey Tina, have you met George? You both love watching Succession, can you believe what happened on the Season 3 finale?”
Finally, do not be surprised if party attendees do not all “mingle.” Humans flock to groups of 4 people or less. It’s fascinating and very true! This article from QZ explains this concept in detail. So, there is no need to force more than 4 people to engage in a similar conversation (unless you’re playing a party game, of course).
Have more party tips? Leave them in the comments below, I’d love to hear!