As the year draws to a close, the winter season will undoubtedly bring the traditions of red ribbons, pine trees, ornaments and the pressure of throwing a properly festive holiday party.
When it comes to party activities, seasonal snacks and festive finishing touches, enhancing a holiday function doesn’t need to be as daunting for a host as it may seem. For exciting and easy ways to spice up your next celebration, here are our top five tips to add a little magic to your event without adding too much effort to your workload.
Focus on the food
The nostalgic flavors of the holidays are an essential part of any snowy soiree, and no holiday party is complete without seasonal favorites like gingerbread, peppermint, cinnamon and eggnog. Bake a batch of decorated Christmas cookies, plan a gingerbread house-building contest or craft a signature cocktail with peppermint liqueur to pay homage to the classic treats of winter’s past. If you plan on serving a meal at your party, consider inviting guests to bring along their favorite holiday dish to facilitate a potluck. Encourage an inclusion of multicultural cuisines to enhance your pitch-in, assigning each guest a new recipe to try. Or stick to a selection of red- or green-colored dishes for a Christmas theme with an extra challenge.
Deck the halls
Putting up holiday decorations doesn’t have to be reminiscent of the extravagance seen in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” complete with a giant tree, gaudy roof decorations and enough Christmas lights to cause a power outage. You don’t have to go over the top to prepare your home for your holiday party – a little can go a long way. Creating paper-ring garlands, topping your table with wrapping paper as a runner or hanging up a store-bought or DIY wreath on your door will be more than enough to spice up your space. Even with Christmas tree alternatives, the options are endless. Miniature plastic models and smaller plants like a rosemary shrub can replicate that classic evergreen look, while life-size wall decals keep up the festive spirit without sacrificing the floor space.
The winter season encompasses a variety of diverse religious, regional and cultural holidays – the weeks from December to January include celebrations like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Bodhi Day, Yaldā Night, Yule and many others. If your guests celebrate different holidays, consider organizing a conversation with your group before the event to brainstorm how all guests can incorporate their own traditions. Celebrating multiple religious and cultural traditions instead of one will make your holiday party more inclusive of all beliefs and practices. Your party should be enjoyable for all of your guests without making anyone feel excluded or uncomfortable.
Don’t forget the details
Paying attention to the details is essential to making your event memorable when you’re planning a holiday party. Consider small additions with big impacts, like party favor stockings for your guests stuffed with candy or small gifts to hand out at the party’s end. Create a party hashtag to connect your group’s social media posts or organize a Secret Santa gift exchange with added challenges, like limiting gifts to certain local stores or sticking to a theme. To share in your friends’ annual customs, encourage guests to bring their own holiday traditions, like a party game or special dish, to enjoy with the group. Turning on some upbeat holiday music and lighting a seasonal candle can contribute even more cheer to the atmosphere. For a special touch, arrange a hot chocolate bar with a Keurig, K-cups, mugs and whipped cream to make your party pop.
Embrace the spirit of the season
For a cheerful and charitable activity to share with your guests, plan a collaborative craft to support a charity during your party. Many local organizations would appreciate extra support during the holiday season, including resource programs, food pantries, soup kitchens and hospitals. House of Ruth’s annual Gifts for Families program – which collects holiday gifts for women, children and families healing from trauma, abuse and homelessness – is just one of many causes to get behind during the holiday season. Set up a table to write holiday cards for hospitalized children around the nation, make fleece tie blankets for those in need, build care kits for the unhoused community or coordinate a small supply drive for a food pantry. This season is all about giving, so consider donating some of your time to the charities that need it the most.