How to Host a Holiday Party

Is it your turn to host a holiday party? Be it with family, friends, co-workers or classmates, you want to create a fun gathering and long-lasting memories, but where do you start? Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years or a low key celebratory get together with friends, hosting a successful event is all about careful planning and thinking ahead. 

How to Start Planning for a Holiday Party

When you’re planning a holiday party, it’s best to get started as early as you can, which might mean the beginning of November (or even earlier). From securing a venue to aligning everyone’s schedule, and coordinating food and drinks, getting a jump start on planning will relieve headaches down the road. If nothing else, start by planning the date of the event so you have something locked into everyone’s calendar before it starts to fill up with festivities for the season.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you host a holiday gathering:

  • Determine the Date: Start planning early, the holiday season can be busy, so sending out invitations well in advance helps your guests reserve the date.
  • Set a Budget: Decide how much you’re willing to spend on the party which will influence things like food, decor and venue.
  • Choose a Theme: It can be a traditional holiday theme, color scheme, ugly sweater party, winter wonderland, etc. or maybe the theme revolves around an activity like a craft or gift wrapping party. 
  • Venue: Many holiday parties are hosted at home, but consider renting a space if you have a large guest list.
  • Decorations: Decorate according to your theme, and take a look at what you might already have on hand for décor.
  • Menu Planning: Decide whether you’ll serve a sit-down dinner, buffet, appetizers and drinks or coordinate a potluck. Consider dietary restrictions, and don’t forget beverages, alcoholic (like mulled wine, eggnog, or holiday cocktails) and non-alcoholic options.

Once it gets closer to the gathering, plan the details of the fun stuff including festive games and activities. Consider holiday-themed trivia, bingo, or charades and if you’d like to include secret Santa or a white elephant gift exchange. The dress code goes hand in hand with your theme and holiday parties can be casual, fun, or fancy. From cocktail attire to ugly sweaters, pajamas and plaid, be sure to let your guests know in advance so they can plan accordingly. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others to plan the party. The easiest way to take some weight off your chest this holiday season is to have help. If you need a simple way to cook less  so you can focus on decorating and coordinating, ask guests to RSVP with a side dish or ask people to bring desserts, drinks, or paper goods to help out. Whether it’s time, energy or resources, recruit family or friends to help you so you can be sure to enjoy the festivities, too.

What to Expect at a Holiday Party

Whoever is organizing the holiday event, be it a family and friends gathering or a work event will do their best to accommodate the needs of everyone, from food and activities to downtime. If you have specific dietary or lifestyle needs that the organizer might not be aware of, be sure to let them know, and if you’re hosting, be sure to ask. Although spending time with family or co-workers can be intimidating or bring up difficult dynamics, you’ll likely be able to choose your level of involvement, and soak in as much holiday cheer as you’re comfortable with. 

Food and drink, often tied into the theme of the gathering (like holiday cookie decorating, a movie marathon or ugly sweater contest) is one of the most common aspects of a holiday event. There are so many special holiday sweet treats and specialty beverages that you’ll likely get to enjoy at a holiday party. Some sort of gift giving is also common, such as a Secret Santa, White Elephant, or Favorite Things gift exchange, so everyone leaves with a treasured trinket (or at least a good laugh). 

Games and activities like holiday movie marathons, caroling or karaoke, do-it-yourself crafting, board games, or even outdoor reindeer games or ice skating are all popular holiday endeavors. Some events are more formal while others are very casual, but you should have a good idea what to expect based on the invitation you receive. While planning is essential whether you’re hosting or attending, don’t stress over every detail being perfect, the joy of the season and the company of loved ones is what truly matters.

As with any type of gathering, there are a lot of details to plan but the end result is a special opportunity for people to come together. Historic Acres of Hershey has a beautiful outdoor space and bonfire pit, and indoor spaces that can accommodate groups of all sizes. Give us a call (717) 298-6340 or contact us to learn more, check dates, or take a tour.