Holiday Party Planning. Sharing my best tips and timeline for planning a wonderful holiday party without all the stress.
Today we are talking party planning. Print out the party planning schedule to stay on task and know exactly when to complete each step.
This printable can go in the Entertaining section of your holiday binder. This is also a great place to add recipes, decor ideas, and ideas for what to do.
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How to Plan a Holiday Party
I have a party planning schedule I like to use for events like showers and birthdays, but the holidays are different. Everyone’s calendars are filling up fast, especially the weekends in December.
Choose a Theme
To make everything cohesive you first need to choose a theme. It could be as simple as a color scheme or you can use one of the ideas below.
Knowing your theme early makes it easy to plan for invitations, decorations, and activities.
Holiday Party Theme Ideas:
- Cookie Exchange
- Ugly Sweater
- Winter Wonderland
- Gingerbread Decorating
- White Elephant Gift Exchange
- Secret Santa
- Wine and Charcuterie Party
- Elf on the Shelf
- DIY Holiday Cards
- Wreath Making
- Christmas Carol-oke
- Wrapping Party
- Holiday Movie Slumber Party/Girls Night
If you are not planning on hosting the party in your home, reserve your event space early.
You can use the blank notes page to write out all your ideas for your holiday party.
Create a Guest List and Send Invitations
Next, pick a date and send out invitations. November and December are very busy for everyone, so I like to send them out as early as possible.
Check local events pages to make sure you are not scheduling on the same day/night as another big event.
We have a lot of things like the downtown light parade, Christmas tree lighting, and a local entertainment showcase, among other events. Many people in town want to attend these events, so it may be better to choose a different night for your event.
Create a guest list, and send out invitations. I usually send out invites via text or through Facebook events. You can also use an online service like Evite.com. For a more formal event, you may want to send out paper invitations.
Plan Your Menu
Start gathering recipes and decide what you want to make. If you are hosting a potluck, start assigning dishes to guests.
Use the printable menu planner to help you plan what you want to make and create a shopping list.
Always plan for more food and drinks than you think you will need. Occasionally you will have unexpected guests arrive with family or friends, and you definitely don’t want to run out. I send extras home with guests or I work the leftovers into our meal plan for the next few nights.
I like to create a Pinterest board to keep all my ideas in one place. You can also write out the recipes you are going to use on recipe cards and add them to your binder.
Planning to serve a signature holiday drink that works with your theme is a fun way to celebrate while also saving money by limiting the amount of alcohol and ingredients you need to buy.
If you are hosting a party for families, having a hot cocoa bar can be a fun way to include the kids.
Holiday parties can be easy to decorate for since many of us already have up holiday decorations in our homes. This is a great time to use what you already have.
If you stick to your theme while decorating, it can save you money by not purchasing a bunch of extra items. Usually, all I have to purchase or make is a tablecloth, paper plates, and silverware.
I have hosted lots of cookie exchange parties, and many of the printables would work for any holiday party.
Plan Activities and Games
No matter what kind of party you are hosting, it is a good idea to have a loose timeline for what will happen and when.
I like to allow some time for guests to arrive before starting any group activities. Having food and/or drinks available from the start can break the ice as people arrive.
Plan for some background music that matches your theme to be playing before your first guest arrives. The music helps keep things less awkward as the first guests arrive so there is not an uncomfortable silence.
Especially if there is going to be kids at the party I like to plan something for people to do. Whether that is eating dinner, playing games, or singing karaoke.
If you are going to have children at the party, having some inexpensive coloring books and crayons available can help keep them busy while the adults are talking.
Activities and Games for Holiday Parties:
- Gift exchange – doing a secret Santa or White Elephant can be fun!
- Decorate Christmas cookies or gingerbread houses
- Wrap presents
- Decorate the Christmas tree together
- Holiday photo booth
- Ugly sweater contest
- Watch holiday movies
- Sing Christmas carols
- Cookie Exchange
- Holiday Trivia
Depending on the type of party you are having you may want to pass out favors as a thank-you to your guests for coming.
Plan ahead to make or buy favors and have them assembled at least a week before the party.
Clean the House
If you are hosting the party at home, deep clean your home the week before. Focus on the rooms your guest will be in. If you do a thorough cleaning now, then the day before the party you can do some quick touch-ups and be ready for the party.
At the very least, put things away, vacuum, and clean the bathroom. Make sure your bathroom is stocked with extra toilet paper, soap, and a clean hand towel. Empty the trash cans.
I like to prepare as much as I can ahead of time. This will vary depending on what you are serving, but making and prepping the day or two before the party can cut down on the stress the day of the party.
Day of the Party
On the day of the party, make sure your home is picked up and ready for guests. Finish preparing food and drinks. Set the table for dinner or set up your food and drink stations.
Set up any games or activities you plan to do at the party and keep party favors near the exit so guests can grab one on their way out.
Start the holiday music, light a candle, relax, and enjoy your party!
Free Printable Holiday Party Planning Schedule
Download: Party Schedule
This download is for personal use only. Do not share the direct link to the .pdf/.jpg file. Please link back to the original post when sharing.
This post is part of the Organize Your Holiday series. Create a holiday binder to organize everything holiday-related for a relaxing and calm holiday season.
- Watch the video on how to set up your holiday binder.
- Purchase the Printable Holiday Binder Bundle in the shop!
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