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How to Host a Holiday Party and Keep Guests Satisfied

Champagne with cranberries

Parties are a popular part of the holiday season and they are something I look forward to each year. No matter what sort of holiday madness my family gets into, we are always more than willing to open a bottle of wine and kick up our heels.

When you are hosting your own party, there’s more pressure to make a good impression. You want your guests to enjoy the party and you also want them to come back when you host another one.

Whether you are hosting a party for the first time or have hosted one several times, the following tips can help make your party a success and make it a topic of discussion for a long time.

Plan, Plan and Plan Some More

It’s important to think ahead and not wait until the last minute when it comes to planning a party, especially when you’re expecting a large crowd.

Give yourself ample time to figure out the details so you can work around your schedule and put the appropriate time in to making it a great party.

Start with a checklist. This is the time to make your guest list and figure out what kind of party it will be.

Once you have your guest list finalized, send out invitations right away. Your guests need enough time to respond and mark your party in their calendars so they are free.

With the guest list out of the way, you can work on planning the rest of your party. Make lists to help keep everything organized and to keep track of what’s been taken care of and what else needs to be done. You don’t want the party to arrive and realize you forgot something.

Fixing a Menu

Champagne with cranberries

Make a list of food you’ll have at the party, buy needed products such as plates, napkins and ingredients for the dishes you’ll be serving and clean your house. Avoid one less to-do item on the day of the party by making food ahead that can be kept in a fridge or freezer.

When choosing food, take into account any guests that may have food allergies or another food condition. Check with guests ahead of time and find out if there is anything they can’t eat, and then be sure to have something they can also enjoy.

It’s very important to have the right amount of food, plates, napkins, etc. to not only have enough for all guests attending, but also to avoid running out before the party’s over.

Depending on the type of party, the amount of food you need will vary. A small gathering, for instance, will require a lot less than a dinner party with 100 guests. The number of people attending will play a key role in how much food will be required.

For each party I throw, I like to have a signature cocktail. A signature cocktail elevates every get together, even if it’s just a simple picnic in the park. This year my family (mostly me) has decided that Cranberry Margaritas will be the signature cocktail for our annual Christmas Eve dinner party.

If you are having a potluck party, talk with your guests ahead of time and tell them who is bringing what. As the party gets closer, find out whether they need to heat items at your place or if the dish is ready to be put on the table.


Comfortable Atmosphere

Outside of taking the time planning your party, it’s important to think of your guests and what kind of atmosphere they’re walking into.

You want to set the tone for your party and allow your guests to feel comfortable and make them want to come back.

Since it’s a holiday party, put some decorations up to go with the occasion. Put up some garland, hang some mistletoe and add different features that represent the holidays.

Avoid covering every inch of space with holiday décor, but put a few items in each room guests will be using during the party. This will help them get in the holiday spirit throughout the evening.

Instead of having guests hold their jackets the whole time or placing them on your bed, you can always provide a closet that will work even better. The jackets will stay neat and guests won’t have to dig through a large pile in order to find theirs at the end of the night.

Treating the Senses

christmas candle

Photo by Jay Kleeman

Add to the tone of the party by dimming the lights, playing music in the background and even adding some fresh scents. You can light some scented candles. Stores like Yankee Candle and Bath & Body Works have holiday scents that will fit well with your party. Scentsy and Glade products are also great choices for that perfect scent.

Hang a wreath on the door and welcome guests with a scent of pine as they walk in.

Enjoy Yourself

A lot of work goes into planning a party and being the hostess. The key is working ahead so you don’t have as much to do on the day of the event. Then all that’s left to do is to enjoy the party.

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