Planning a Holiday Party for Friends and Family

Friday, December 14th, 2018
Christmas party planning

Your house is all decorated, you are feeling the season of giving and you want to share it with friends and family. Now what?

Start with your guest list:

It’s time to figure out who you want to invite. With this list, it’s important to think about your space. If you have a small home, it’s important to keep the guest list intimate and make sure it’s made up of people that will get along well. If you have a larger space, you can invite more people and from broader walks of life, because people can splinter off and find places to chat.

Move on to the theme of your event:

Picking the theme of your event is a very important step and directs the rest of the planning. Do you want to do a potluck and have everybody bring a dish? Do you want to do a brunch where you do most of the cooking? Do you want to have a formal dinner catered? Is it a simple lunch or even a tea with cookies? Maybe your friends all work different shifts, so you want to do an all-day party where people stop in when they can. For this event, you make quiche in the morning, soup in the afternoon and something more hearty for the dinner hours. A Soup event is very popular during the cold winter months – everyone brings their favorite soup to share.

Pick a date and time:

Once you know your theme, picking the time of your event is easy. The trick can be picking a date. Busy people often have many parties and activities to attend in December and they are forced to pick and choose. The closer you get to Christmas, the more likely they will be traveling or will be having family in to visit. Don’t rule out Sunday afternoons for brunches, lunches and teas. Don’t be offended if people can’t make it.

Decide on activities:

Other than food, what do you want going on at the event? Do you want to do a white elephant gift exchange? Do you want to have arts and crafts and make Christmas Cards? Do you want everyone to bring an ornament for your tree or make them onsite? Do you want everyone to go Christmas Caroling together or sing Christmas Karaoke? Do you want to play reindeer games? Don’t plan too much. Make sure there is plenty of time for socializing.

What about the kids:

Now you have to decide if it’s a kid-friendly event. If most of your friends have younger children, you are going to need to think about entertaining them, if you want your friends to be able to attend. You might want to hire a babysitter and set up a room with kid-friendly Christmas movies and activities. Or just intermingle everyone with activities that kids and adults can do together. If you go this route, you’ll just need to consider that those without kids may not want to come.

What will everyone wear:

If you are wanting to make it a more formal evening event, maybe you want everyone dressed in cocktail attire. Or maybe you want it to be fun, have everyone dress in ugly Christmas sweaters and have a contest for the best ugly sweater? Perhaps you want to keep it casual and just have people come as they are. It’s important to think about who will be coming and what they will be comfortable with.

Now it’s time for the invitations:

Take the above information and include it in some sort of invitation. Facebook events are popular for more casual events and will also give people the opportunity to RSVP. You’ll just have to make sure people are seeing it, otherwise you will need to follow-up with a private message, text or phone call. If you have emails for everyone, you might consider an evite. However, these can get lost in the land of spam and junk. If it’s a more formal event and you really want to make an impact, printed invitations that are either mailed or hand delivered are sure to be noticed. Include a RSVP by date, so you can plan for food and seating.


Now it’s time to pull it all together and consider your food, drink and elements of your activities. With the proper planning, you won’t have to make any last-minute runs to the store and will really be able to enjoy your friends and family.

  • Spend some time thinking out your menu before you do your shopping or ordering. Plan your cooking and baking to be completed before your guests arrive. Make sure you make enough, but not way too much as you don’t want lots of waste. Have inexpensive plastic containers on hand so people can take home extras.
  • Make sure you have enough alcohol on hand to appease the masses. Homemade spiked eggnog, and warm spiced wine are popular during the holidays. But its good to have an assortment of wine, beer and perhaps a whisky or bourbon. If you elect to have a full bar, make sure to have the mixers and juices to go with it. Just as importantly, you need to make sure you have plenty of water on hand and something to offer those that don’t drink like soda or tea. Hot cider and Hot chocolate are also great offerings.
  • Get plenty of plates, flatware, glasses, and napkins as needed.
  • Plan your seating. Buy or rent tables and chairs as needed, if you don’t have enough. Decorate your tables.
  • Set-up activities.
  • Leave yourself enough time to take a shower and get dressed for the event.
  • Put your pets up if they are going to get in the way.
  • Square away the kids.
  • Set the mood with some holiday music.
  • Leave a note on the door if you want people just to come-on-in, otherwise, they are likely to knock or ring the doorbell.

You’ve thought through everything, now welcome your guests, have some fun and enjoy your event!

Heart of the Desert is a working pistachio ranch and vineyard with four retail establishments in New Mexico. They are best known for their farm fresh pistachios and Award-Winning New Mexico wines. Each store offers wine and pistachio tastings. They offer worldwide shipping and produce attractive gourmet baskets that make great corporate and family gifts. The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcases how pistachios are grown and processed as well as a stunning Tuscany themed patio that overlooks the groves and is available for weddings, private parties or enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.