Holiday Party Planning Tips

A helpful holiday cleaning and prep checklist

Ask any successful party host and they'll tell you, it's the little details that make all the difference. Which is why if you want to host a get-together this holiday season that's both festive and fun, you need to have a plan.

And that's where we come in. We're here to share our best holiday party planning tips, including a complete cleaning and prep checklist, to be sure you leave nothing to chance.

Tips For Throwing an Amazing Holiday Party

Holiday parties are a traditional way of connecting with friends and spreading happiness, two things which are needed more than ever right now.

And while there's a lot that goes into hosting during this festive season, with a great plan in place and a little prep work it's totally possible to put together a fun event that won't leave you feeling overwhelmed. The trick is to have a clear plan of action, and to give yourself enough time to prep as much as you can ahead of the celebration, so you aren't stressed out and running around the day of the big event.

You want to be able to enjoy the party as much as your guests will! Here's a list of our top ten best-kept party secrets for pulling off an enjoyable holiday celebration.

"Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality."

– Washington Irving

1. Select A Date:

First and foremost, you need to choose a date and time for your holiday party that works for key guests. The holiday season is a busy time of year! You'll want to get the date on people's calendars early, at least a month before.

And if you're planning a family party that will include kids, you'll likely want to choose an earlier start time. One that won't interfere with bedtime.

2. Pick A Theme (and stick with it):

Whether it's a color scheme, a festive plant or fruit, or even a holiday movie or song... Choose one design element as your focal point to tie the entire party together.

3. Send Invites Early:

Your friends' holiday calendars will fill up fast, so get those invites out ASAP! Regardless of whether your event is big or small, an accurate headcount is a must.

Choose a beautiful invitation design that matches your overall theme (either digital or paper) and stay on top of your RSVPs. Follow up with non-responders so you don't have any last-minute surprises on party day.

4. Use What You Have:

Don't blow your party budget on a bunch of unnecessary decor. You likely have lots of seasonal decorations, plates, linens, etc., hiding in closets, drawers, the garage, or storage.

Inventory what you have before you even think about buying anything new. You want to save money where you can.

5. Plan Your Menu:

And even if you LOVE to cook, don't plan on making everything from scratch. Make one or two signature holiday dishes and then do yourself a favor and buy the rest.

Same goes for drinks. Make a pitcher of a signature cocktail that goes along with your theme, but then set up a bar area where guests can serve themselves for the rest of the night. You want to enjoy your company! Not get stuck cooking or making drinks all...night...long.

6. Always Overestimate:

The last thing you want is to run out of food or drinks mid-party! So figure how much you will need for the guests that RSVP'd, then order extra. It's always better to send home happy guests with to-go boxes than to try and get someone to run out in the middle of the party to buy more.

Speaking of to-go boxes, grab a pack of festive holiday print plastic food storage containers to make sending goodies home with guests quick and easy. (p.s. it's a great way to get extra treats - and calories - out of the house!)

7. Plan For Party Traffic:

People will congregate wherever there is food or drink. Plan ahead for this!

Set up different food and bar stations in different areas of the house. That way you won't end up with a traffic jam in one area, and a totally empty room just waiting for guests.

8. Make a Holiday Playlist:

There's no reason to go out and spend a bunch of money on a DJ, but you want to keep the mood lively and fun. Queue up your holiday playlist!

You can easily use an app like Pandora or Spotify to create your own customized music list or browse through existing holiday playlists and choose one that matches your party's theme. Either way, come the night of the big event all you need to do is hit play and there will be festive music in the background all night long.

9. Set A Schedule:

Map out a schedule of events with their start times (i.e., guests arrive, dinner, activity, dessert, etc.). This will help you feel more organized and provide structure around the event. Plus, you don't want things to run too late or guests might have to leave before a certain activity takes place. A timeline keeps things on track.

10. Plan A Fun Party Activity:

Music, drinks, and food are the backbone of any good holiday party, but sometimes it just isn't enough. Plan for one fun merry-making activity as a kind of ice breaker to get people up, connecting, and having fun.

One planned activity is plenty. You don't want this to be overwhelming, remember? But plan this out ahead of time so you can let guests know what to expect when you invite them. Some holiday party activities to consider:

  • Secret Santa gift exchange
  • White elephant gift exchange
  • Classic games like charades or Pictionary (but with a holiday twist)
  • Christmas cookie decorating or a cookie swap
  • Ugly holiday sweater contest
  • Watch a classic holiday movie
  • Decorate a Christmas tree
  • Sing holiday karaoke songs

Holiday Party Cleaning and Prep Tips

Picking a theme, sending out invites etc. is the fun part of holiday party planning, but it's not the only part. You've also got to get your home ready for guests.

That means all the behind-the-scenes cleaning, disinfecting and prep work that needs to happen before your holiday party. Don't wait until the last minute to get your house in order!

Here's a quick holiday party cleaning prep checklist, to make sure your upcoming festive get-together goes off without a hitch.

Prep The Bathroom:

Set out the seasonal hand towels, stock up on toilet paper, and don't forget to clean and thoroughly disinfect your bathroom. This is especially important if anyone in your home has been sick recently. Creepy side note, studies have found that there is on average 6,267 bacteria per square inch crawling on bathroom faucets and toilet handles, even when your family is feeling fine!

Fireplace:

Make all the necessary preparations for a warm and cozy space by piling a stack of firewood next to the fireplace (it also makes a stylish display). If you haven't used your fireplace in a while, you should also clean your fireplace to avoid chimney fires.

Pet Problems:

Got a dog or cat that loves to sit on your couch? Give your furniture the sniff test. If it smells funky, check out this tip for removing pet odors before guests arrive.

Kitchen Counters:

Guests tend to gravitate to the kitchen. To avoid spreading germs, skip the sponge. With an average of 134,630 bacteria, a kitchen sponge spreads more germs than it kills. You're better off using a good spray of Simple Green Clean Finish and paper towels to disinfect counters and cupboards. This both cleans and helps kill illness-causing germs.

Throw Pillows:

Freshen up the living room and guest rooms by giving those throw pillows a little TLC. Here's how to easily lift dirt and stains using Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner.

Plan for Trash:

Holiday gatherings mean lots of trash. Make clean-up easier on yourself by strategically placing lined trash cans throughout your house. Make sure there is one by the bar, next to any food stations, in the bathroom, and on the patio if guests will be going outside.

Holiday Aromatherapy:

We adapt to the smells in our home very quickly, which can make them harder for us to notice than a visitor. Do your guests a favor. Light a few holiday-scented candles or place potpourri throughout your house to create a pleasant inviting aroma and help set the mood. Now you're ready to party!

Germ statistics source: WebMD