Planning the Perfect Party

Planning the Perfect Party

One of the best parts of the Christmas season is the chance to spend time with friends and family. What better way to do that than by throwing a great holiday party?


There are plenty of parties during the season, and you’ll want yours to stand out without adding too much stress to a busy time of year. By planning ahead and following these tips, you can give your guests a great experience and create lasting Christmas memories.


Picking a theme for your party isn’t easy, but it will generally fall into a few popular categories. Here are some ideas.

The national theme: You might serve Mexican food and use south-of-the-border decor for a “Feliz Navidad” party, or look to Europe for inspiration with a Swedish or German theme. Picking a country makes planning the party easier because you can match the decorations, the food and the music in a cohesive way.

The hobby theme: Whatever your interests are, you can find a way to weave them into your party. If you’re a huge football fan, for example, you could throw a gridiron Christmas party that’s decorated in your team’s colors. You could throw a scrapbooking party where guests take pictures and design simple pages as part of the fun. The possibilities are endless.

The decade theme: Every decade has its own unique style and music. Whether you throw a disco Christmas party in honor of the ‘70s, a rock-n-roll ‘50s party or one with a roaring ‘20s theme, complete with flappers and dancing the Charleston; the choice is up to you.


Drinking Champagne

Send your invitations as soon as you can to give your guests enough time to sort out their calendars.

You also want to set the right tone with your invitations. They’re the first impression people will have of your party, after all, so their quality and presentation should match the image you’re trying to project.

Think about the overall mood you want to achieve before you start picking specific things like color schemes. Whether you want a formal, traditional dinner party or a more informal and hip get-together, you should make your invitations set the stage.

Be specific, too. Tell your guests when the party will begin, when it will end and a short description of what food you’ll be serving. Otherwise, your guests might come expecting a full meal when you’re only planning light hors d’oeuvres.

Finally, make sure you include directions with the invitation.


To reduce stress, it’s important you look for dishes that you can prepare well ahead of time. Foods that can be frozen or refrigerated are ideal, along with baked goods that keep well at room temperature.

For items that need to be made fresh, do as much preparation work ahead of time as possible. You may be able to mix together all the basic ingredients days before the party, then simply pour them in a pan and bake them at the last minute.

Another way to save stress is to think about what utensils will be required to serve each dish. The more finger foods and small snacks you can serve with toothpicks, the fewer dishes you’ll have to wash later.

Finally, remember to focus on tried-and-true recipes that you know your guests will enjoy. Parties are not the time to experiment with new cooking ideas that might not turn out like you planned.


When setting up your home for the party, the most important thing to consider is the traffic pattern for your guests.

Visitors will need plenty of room to move around. You might need to move your furniture to the walls or place them into small groups for better conversation.

Also consider the traffic flow when you decide where to place the food. If you have a bar, it would be smart to position it close to the water and ice. Snacks and finger foods should be positioned in several convenient places throughout the room so that guests can mingle.

You should also pay close attention to seating. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you have enough seats so that half your guests can be seated at the same time. That means if your home has seating for 15 people, you should invite no more than 30. If you want a bigger crowd, you’ll have to bring in extra chairs.


Unless you’re a party-planning diva, it’s best to stick with the traditional, time-tested ways of setting a holiday mood.

You’ll want to light candles just before your guests arrive, dim your lights and play some holiday music. One easy way to do that is by streaming the music from your smartphone or computer.

There are plenty of online sources, including Spotify an
d Pandora, that let you play holiday tunes to fit a specific theme — say, country Christmas music or rock-n-roll Christmas music, in addition to the traditional favorites.


Most of all, you should know what your perfect party looks like ahead of time. Have a vision for what you want it to be, then get an early start to make your dream become a reality.

When you close your eyes and imagine the perfect party, what do you see? Whatever it is, write down what it should include and make a plan for how to get there.

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