Last year I hosted my first holiday party as being a home owner, or as other people can relate, having left the nest! The idea of feeding people, concocting fun holiday themed cocktails, ridding our home of all the pet hair (which seems to reconvene overnight), making the perfect festive playlist, and maintaining a collected self-image took a lot of wine (and I mean a lot), planning, and, did I mention, wine? While I’d consider it a minor success, it’s safe to say that I learned a thing or two after going for round two this year. After discussing and comparing the experience with a lot of people (myself included) there are a few things I’d do differently this time around. And that’s why we bring to you The And She’s Creative Ultimate Holiday Party Planning Guide.
We’ve all uttered the same excuses to put off entertaining, and the one that trumps them all is that you don’t have the space or that the space you have isn’t up to par. Well, I’m here to slash that theory! Listen, I bet that some of the best parties that you’ve been to have conducted themselves in less than grandiose spaces. In fact, many of them have probably taken place in a backyard, a college dorm room, or a frat basement.
Instead of looking at your location as a limitation, allow it to bring a feeling of coziness and closeness during a season that is, well, about just that! If you’re in a small space, make the most of it with things like candles, festive pillows, and blankets around the coffee table for a potluck of dessert and drinks. Ultimately, the holidays are about bringing people together, not the size or spectacular-ness of your home.
Personally, when it comes to a holiday party with friends, we like to take the digital route. Maybe that’s because we’re a creative digital marketing company, or maybe it’s because we find it easier and more collaborative. If you don’t have the extra budget for old school paper invitations (don’t get us wrong, we’re suckers for stationery) then opt for a fun Facebook Event invite! Make a themed cover photo (it’s fun to personalize this too!) and invite your friends to your holiday party this way. Discussions can be had, songs can be requested, and head counts are a whole lot easier to keep track of!
I like to start my planning by really stressing myself out for unneeded reasons and pinning at least 600 ideas of apps, cocktails, and entree’s on my holiday party board only later to realize that my house can hold a comfortable maximum of ten people and that I only have 8 dishes in my cabinet. The good news is that there is no need for this stress. Make it easy on yourself and go one of two directions. Trader Joe’s is our go to for seasonal and festive cuisine. Not only is it easy but it always tastes great and never fails to be a hit at parties. If you’re feeling financially stressed or don’t think that you’ll have the time or the means to prepare all of this, consider asking your guests to each bring a dish to your party.
While I totally appreciate the perfect hostess wanting to have just the right amount of wine and spirits for your guests along with the cutest themed holiday cocktails, I appreciate your bank account even more. If there’s one thing that can get expensive, it’s alcohol. It’s more likely than not that people will ask what they can bring, and don’t be afraid to take advantage of that! Take the guessing out what everyone will like and make note that although you will have the basic staples, your guests should be prepared and willing to bring their go-to drink along with them.
Here’s what we recommend having:
A Few Bottles of Wine:
Just be sure to hit the basics; a staple red, white, and maybe throw in a bottle of prosecco.
A Signature Cocktail:
You can get creative and festive with this without making it hard! Create an easy hot cocoa bar with a crockpot hot cocoa recipe, a few jars of chocolate chips, crushed candy canes, and marshmallows, and an optional bottle of bourbon for a warm spiked finish.
Ice, Soda Water, Mixers:
Be sure to have a bucket of ice on hand, a few garnishes, and something to mix your spirits with.
Whether you choose to take the paper or ceramic route, don’t make this more expensive than it needs to be! I’ve held many a party in my day with good old solo cups and paper plates; and that’s nothing to be ashamed of! If you’re looking to class things up a bit, there are a lot of great options that won’t break the bank. Look to marked down glassware, or hit places that have discounted items like the dollar store, homegoods, walmart. No one will know where you’ve purchased your dinnerware from but you, and to be honest? They all look the same.
No matter what your timeline or budget may be, greenery and candles will get you where you need to be! Think fresh greenery from places like, Trader Joe’s, Home Depot, Lowe’s, or your local farmers market. Drape some fresh garland over doorways, hang a bundle of mistletoe in a doorway, and place tea lights throughout your home. In the mood for something a little more glam? Trade the garland for some tinsel or ad some sparkly ribbon to your wreaths.
Music; consider asking your guests upon invite for song requests. Be sure to hit all of the basics with holiday classics, throw in a few pop covers, and you’re good to go! Spotify is a great source for making a playlist. Here are a few that we’re loving:
Games; Don’t be afraid to start out with some ice breaker games. Yeah, we know it sounds dumb, but when you’re potentially combining friends with co-workers, and mixing your significant other’s crowd into the group, it’t nice to put a name to a face first! Other quick and fun ideas are minute to win it games. HELLO PINTEREST!