December is prime party month! While getting family and friends together anytime is wonderful, the holiday season can be a time when you want to make things extra special. As a lifelong goer and occasional thrower of parties, I’ve made a few notes over the years as to some details that can really make a party stand out.
Set Yourself up for Success
Plan carefully so that you aren’t taking on too much the day of your actual event. Focus on easy, do ahead recipes that just need to be set out or heated the day of your get together. For big groups, consider hiring some early twenty-somethings to serve as bartenders or to prep and replenish food as needed and tidy up.
NOTE: Every great party starts with a great invite! Check out Paperless Post for some of my favorites.
Captivate Your Guests from the Start
The hosts of one of the more memorable Christmas parties I’ve attended set the scene for guests as they came up the walk. Everyone was offered a glass of champagne from bottles displayed in a decorative trough of ice and a family member was taking pictures of each guest against their spectacularly decorated entryway. Alternately, a form of entertainment is good way to catch people’s attention. Perhaps a local string student for a subdued crowd or short carriage rides if you live in the country.
Focus on Display
If you’re hosting a larger crowd, the easiest way to take a standard dining room table or kitchen counter buffet from blah to huzzah is to vary the height of items on the table. Get creative in your display…
- Use Styrofoam packing to build areas of varying height and cover with an extra tablecloth or two. Candle pillars, overturned decorative bowls, books, empty dresser drawers are all things that can be used to create some height.
- Serve individual apps on tasting spoons or in shot or martini glasses for a fun presentation.
- Add some lights – buffet lamps, a twinkle light string under your tablecloth or an assortment of candles around various buffet items – get that beautiful table to glow!
Both of the tables below feature cheeses, meats and breads but the impact of the table with varied heights is much more impressive!
Offer a Take-Home Treat – For Those that Want Extra Credit!
If you really want to spoil your guests, offer post-party treat bags. I often put out treat bags at each place setting for smaller sit-down dinners but a bowl or display by the door would work for guests of bigger events. Don’t think you have to do something fancy…spiced nuts, peppermint bark or a single, beautifully decorated cookie wrapped in cellophane all make lovely take-home tokens. If you have someone taking pictures as guests arrive, a photo of the guest in a small frame also makes a nice souvenir.