Christmas is fast approaching. It’s your turn this year to hold a party and you’ve got to plan it quick.
You’ve come to the right place.
Firstly, read our post called, “Can I Host a Christmas Party?”. This will show you everything you need to consider before agreeing to host a party yourself.
Now, you’ve said yes to all of the questions and are ready to begin planning.
If you’re reading this anytime beyond early October, you have to plan all of this quite quickly. I recommend starting your planning process in October, if not earlier if you want to have a successful and enjoyable party.
You have to decide on a few things quite quickly, especially with people’s calendars and venues booking out early.
- Guest list
Choose the date..
The date is the most important because the earlier you have this date written in stone, the more likely your guests will be available.
Don’t be afraid to ask the question of when people are available and push for the date you want. Christmas doesn’t necessarily have to be celebrated on December 25th. Coming from a very large family, I’ve learned how impossible it is to have every member of the family available on that particular day of the year, especially with family members who live far away. Celebrating after Christmas is always a good idea because you can utilise Boxing Day sales and restaurants will have more openings.
If you decide on a date more than a few months out from the party, I’d suggest sending out save-the-dates as soon as you’ve checked that your party is doable because people’s calendars will book up fast!
Decide on a budget..
Make sure your budget is bigger than what you’ve roughly calculated you’ll need. Anything can happen, especially during the “silly season”. Think outside the box for ideas of cutting costs. You can find some more budget tips in our post, “Can I Host a Christmas Party?”.
Book a venue..
Many venues will book out early so the quicker you can decide on the venues you can afford and book, the better.
If you’ve chosen a restaurant, you’ve got to decide numbers before you book. Whether you’ve secured a venue or decided to keep it at home, your guests have to fit comfortably into that space. Decorations are also something that requires consideration – the bigger your space, the more decorations you’ll need to include.
Write a guest list..
Whether you’re planning a work party at a restaurant or a family party at home, knowing a rough guess of how many guests are going to be coming is always good to know early, especially when calculating your budget. It’s also super important to decide who you are and aren’t inviting. It’s important to understand that with social media and incredibly fast communication these days, people will find out really quickly whether they’ve been excluded from a social group or party.
You have to also be mindful of making assumptions for people. For example, if you have a friend who lives far away with young children, you might make the assumption they won’t be able to make the distance. Even if they’ve stated that it wouldn’t be likely, it’s not a bad idea to send out a courtesy invitation to recognise their importance in your life.
Next are some decisions you have a little longer to set in stone.
Create your menu..
When you send out your invitations, most people will have a ‘special requests’ section for people with food preferences or medical issues to fill out with their required diet. This lets people know you care and are going to happily cater for their needs. Your menu almost solely relies on your budget and what effort you’re willing to go to.
If you’re going to a restaurant, you obviously don’t have to worry about this, unless you’re giving your guests an edible gift. The restaurant, however, will need to know of any special requirements at the time of booking if possible. If you’ve booked a caterer for your function, they will also need to know this information straight away, especially if they incur an extra cost.
Make a schedule..
Knowing how much time each recipe takes to prepare and cook is a really important part of your party. Leading up to the day, try out your recipes, learn how long it takes for certain things (and tweak the recipe if you have to). Write down how long things take so you know what to start and when. The earlier you start this process, the less stressful the day of your event will be, especially if you’ve got help.
Along with the food, you may also have a few plans on the day – visiting relatives, picking up last-minute flowers or groceries – it can get stressful. Think about all the things you need and buy them as early as possible to avoid that crazy dash to the shops on the day! If you give people a specific time that you’ll visit them at, you can stick to your ‘itinerary’ and make the day run smoothly.
And lastly, there are some more minor decisions to make (they’re still important to me!).
- Seating plan
There are plenty of fabulous ideas for decorations around the house that you can do before the day that don’t cost you an arm and a leg. You can never go wrong with faux greenery as a centrepiece, you can pick up for a few dollars at a cheap store. Mason jars, fake snow, ribbons and hessian are also fabulous cheap materials that have heaps of diversity in what you can use them for. Make sure you start making/buying decorations well before the date (but space it out so you don’t have a big upfront cost). You should also try out your decorations in the lead up to your party so that when the day comes, it looks absolutely perfect.
Compile a playlist..
Obviously Christmas carols are an obvious choice here, but some are better than others. Make sure you make the music appropriate for your guests. If there are kids around, mix up your playlist with a few pop songs and children’s Christmas songs to please them – they’re party-goers too! If it’s a quiet, casual party, playing Justin Bieber is probably not too smart. In my opinion, you can never go wrong with a Michael Bublé Christmas album on repeat!
Create a seating plan..
This is really quite reliant on your knowledge and observations of relationships within your group of guests. Obviously, avoid putting conflicting people too close, or your fabulous meal might get overshadowed. Christmas is meant to be a happy occasion so respecting people’s choices about who they do and don’t want to sit with are important (within reason). Once you start receiving RSVP’s, write each person’s name on a small strip of paper (there are plenty of choices here, you could use those small white magnets and a whiteboard marker or Post-It notes). Get a board (corflute is a good board to buy. It’s my favourite material for everything, it’s rigid and it’s cheap!) and draw or attach your table. You can move these around and rearrange the guests as many times as you require, right up until the day of your party. There are some brilliant ideas for place cards as well!
Just a few more tips..
If you’re holding the event at your home, there is still a lot of work to do. A week out from your party, organise a big clean-up of the entire house. If everyone gets involved, the task will be much easier and take away that stress coming up to the big day.
Throughout the last week before your party, start to consider what you can cook early. You also need to begin decorating the house and considering what needs to be done. If you start early in the week, you can pace out the effort and use the pre-Christmas extended shopping hours to your advantage for any last-minute shopping.
In some cases, a courtesy reminder message is a good idea, especially with guests who have never been to this venue before. Obviously with family it can be much more casual or may not even be needed. I’d suggest sending this message a few days before the party to allow any “Oh, I forgot to tell you…” messages to come through.
The night before, you should consider setting the table and having place cards in their spots. This will avoid people rushing to set the table and dropping your expensive dinner set you only bring out for special occasions! If you’re holding a dinner, you might want to wait to set the table until the day. However, if you’re holding a breakfast, it might be best to prep the night before.
Hopefully this has helped you out a little bit and reassured you that a happy, successful and stress-free Christmas party is absolutely possible, it just takes a little bit of extra effort.