Whether your family is planning the Christmas party to end all Christmas parties or you’re celebrating the traditional Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, there are certain party items that cross all denominations, cultures, ages, and genders. Put simply, without these five fundamentals, you can’t really claim to be hosting a holiday party. Stock up and prepare ahead of time, and you can ensure that your holiday party goes off without a hitch. After all, tis the season to be merry!
1. First Things First: Don’t Forget the Sweets Station
When your guests arrive, they will inevitably do one of two things first (after the obligatory greetings of course): drop their coat off or head straight for the sweets and chocolates. People typically go to parties with empty stomachs and eager appetites, and that is because everyone knows that the best food is free party food. And honestly, what’s more appealing than sweets, confections, chocolates, and candies?
Keep your guests happy by maintaining a fully stocked confection station at your holiday party. You may even consider giving away party favor bags at the end of the evening. Your guests will thank you, and you’ll be ending the evening on a sweet note. Consider holiday classics, such as candy canes, gingerbread houses, and festive M&M’s, or experiment with local favorites. Live in Southern California? Consider flan or cinnamon buñuelos (fried dough balls). Call Maine your home? Try fresh maple syrup cooled on a stick or maple-flavored French crullers.
2. No Party is Complete without Libations
The holiday season is a time to eat, drink, and be merry! Consider stocking the bar with holiday classics, like champagne or spiked egg nog, along with some of the most popular drinks of the moment. With the growing popularity of specialty, and craft beers, you may want to step up your beer game with the latest Guinness brew. With an aroma of gentle pine notes and a citrusy, hoppy flavor, Guinness’ latest Nitro-infused IPA may just be the perfect holiday beer.
If you prefer something a little stronger during the holidays (like me) then you have to make the seasonal favorite, eggnog. This Chowhound recipe has it all – sugar, spice & everything nice – but make sure to give yourself enough time to make it to perfection. And for the fancy friends of yours, champagne is a must-have during the holidays. Kick up you champagne game by adding blackberries, fresh mint and a dash of simple syrup. This Champagne Julep is sure to please.
3. Savories – You’ve Gotta Have Salt
Too much sugar will do anyone in. Even the most ardent sweet tooths will need to counter their sugar intake with some good old-fashioned salt. Plus, your guests will be expecting appetizers and hors d’oeuvres – not simply chocolate, and candy canes. Consider offering a wide range of options to meet different dietary needs and preferences. Remember, hosting a party is about meeting your guests’ needs first. It may be tempting to have nothing but cocktail wieners and Swedish meatballs, but then what will the vegetarians at the party eat?
If you want to please all comers, an assorted charcuterie board is sure to please. With a wide range of smoked meats, cheeses, nuts, legumes, and pickled vegetables, you’re sure to satisfy every palate. Plus, nothing hits the spot like deli-fresh salami and cheese. Lastly, if you’re dead-set on having Swedish meatballs, and cocktail wieners at your party, you can keep them simmering in a slow cooker on your counter!
4. Decorate, Decorate, Decorate
Whether you’re hosting a Christmas, Hanukkah, or non-denominational holiday party, you’re going to need decorations. Thankfully, you can still set the right mood even without choosing one affiliation over the other. For example, traditional garland and wreathes are in celebration of the season just as much as they are Christmas, and white lights provide a festive atmosphere without being strictly aligned to one holiday over the other. Of course, the holiday season is also about sharing your culture with others, and learning more about their culture, so don’t be afraid to go all out and decorate for your holiday of choice!
5. Every Party Should End on the Dance Floor
If your friends come from the cocktail dress, tuxedo crowd, consider hiring a string trio or playing classical, and jazz music to keep the mood festive. Want a more lively event? If you’ve got the room, and your guests have the gumption setting up a dance floor can be the perfect way to cap off your holiday party. When the clock strikes 8 or 9pm, consider switching over from the holiday classics to today’s top hits – it could turn your nice-but-forgettable party into a holiday party that people look forward to throughout the year!