A party is a great way to celebrate the holiday season with friends and family. But to ensure your party is a success, you must plan ahead and follow some key hospitality tips. In this post, the hospitality pros at Johnson & Wales University provide pointers on everything from food and drinks to décor and entertainment. So read on and learn how to become the ideal party host!
1. Organization Is Key
Organizing a holiday party can seem daunting, but there are some easy ways to stay on top of things and ensure the event goes off without a hitch.
- Start planning early to give yourself plenty of time to send out invitations, prepare a meal plan, purchase decorations, and make any other necessary arrangements.
- Set your budget early to avoid overspending on decorations or food, allowing you to adjust your plans if necessary.
- Create a detailed guest list to ensure you have enough food and drink for everyone and help you plan activities that are appropriate for your group.
- Don’t be afraid to delegate! Trying to do everything yourself will only lead to stress and burnout. Ask friends or family members to pitch in with specific tasks, such as decorating or preparing food.
2. Set a Date and Send Out Invitations ASAP
The holidays are a busy time for everyone, so it’s essential to set a date and send out invitations as soon as possible, ideally at least a month in advance. This will give your guests plenty of time to clear their schedules and make arrangements to attend. Be sure to include all the essential information about your party, such as the date, time, location, and RSVP instructions. By taking care of these details in advance, you can get a head start on preparations, ensuring that everything will be ready in time.
3. Think Through the Party’s Mood
One of the most important things to consider when planning your holiday party is the overall mood you want to create. Do you want it to be a festive and fun-filled celebration? Or do you want a more laid-back gathering where guests can mingle and relax? Once you’ve decided on the general atmosphere, you can start planning the details accordingly.
4. Dive into the Holiday Decorations
Regarding holiday party décor, there are two camps: those who prefer a more minimal approach and those who go all out. If you fall into the latter category, you know that putting up holiday decorations is a big job. For example, if you’re looking to create a traditional Christmas feel or go for something more whimsical, there are plenty of options for holiday decor. Here are some tips on how to make your home look merry and bright.
- Take stock of what you have. You may be surprised by how many holiday decorations you already own. Once you know what you have to work with, you can start planning what you still need to buy.
- Choose a theme. Do you want your decorations to be traditional or modern? Fun and festive or elegant and understated? Classy or kitschy? Pick a theme and run with it.
- Think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your decorations this year! A little imagination can go a long way. Don’t just put up a string of lights around the perimeter of your house – try wrapping them around trees, railings, and columns. Or hang them from the eaves of your roof. Use inflatable lawn decorations to create an eye-catching scene, or line your walkway with luminaries. The sky’s the limit!
- Get inspired by nature. One of the best ways to create a natural holiday look is by using greenery and plants. Pine branches, holly, and evergreen garlands can all add a touch of winter magic.
- Finally, don’t forget the little details. While it can be tempting to focus on the big items – such as the Christmas tree or Hanukkah menorah – it’s important not to forget the small details. Something as simple as a festive doormat or a bowl of seasonal fruit can give your home a warm and inviting feeling. And don’t forget about the windows! Hang some garland or bells from the curtains, or hang a wreath on the door. Little touches like these will make all the difference in your holiday decorating.
5. Be Environmentally Conscious
The holidays are a time to come together and celebrate with family and friends. However, all those gifts, decorations, and holiday meals can take a toll on the environment. If you’re looking to be more eco-friendly this holiday season, you can do a few things to reduce your impact.
- Try to use recycled or recyclable materials when wrapping gifts.
- Use LED lights instead of traditional string lights, which use less energy and last longer.
- When it comes to the holiday feast, try to use locally sourced and seasonal ingredients to reduce your carbon footprint and support local farmers and businesses. There are also several ways to reduce food waste, such as making smaller batches or donating extra food to a local food bank.
- Avoid using disposable plates, cups, and cutlery. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it can also be costly. Instead, invest in reusable dishware you can use again and again.
By following these simple tips, you can throw an eco-friendly holiday party that your guests will love.
6. Ensure There Are Plenty of Recycle and Trash Cans Available
Another way to be eco-friendly during the holidays is to have plenty of recycling and trash cans available for your guests. This way, they can easily separate their waste throughout the party. You can place recycle bins near the buffet or drink area and trash cans in high-traffic areas, such as near the dance floor or bathrooms. Be sure to label each bin, so your guests know where to put their waste. By taking these simple steps, you can help reduce holiday waste and make your party more sustainable.
7. Set a Food Menu
When it comes to holiday parties, food is always a significant concern. What will you serve your guests? How much will you need? How can you accommodate everyone’s dietary needs? Thankfully, we have some tips to help you set a stress-free food menu for your next holiday party.
- Consider the size of your guest list and the average appetites of your guests. If you’re expecting a large crowd, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and make too much food rather than not enough.
- Take into account any dietary restrictions or preferences that your guests may have. While it’s not necessary to cater to everyone, having a few options available for those with special dietary needs is important.
- Make sure to include a variety of foods so that there’s something for everyone. Include both hot and cold dishes, as well as sweet and savory options.
- Finger foods can be an excellent option for cocktail party-style gatherings. They’re more manageable for your guests to eat while standing and mingling.
Understand Guests’ Food Allergies
While you can’t account for every person’s food preferences, it’s essential to understand your guests’ food allergies. A vegetarian can eat non-meat options, and someone with gluten intolerance can avoid the bread basket. However, someone with a severe food allergy could go into anaphylactic shock if their food so much as comes into contact with their allergen, like peanuts, for example.
Ask your guests to alert you of any food allergies in advance so you can do your best to adjust the menu accordingly. Don’t be afraid to ask for their advice on how to accommodate their needs – some allergies are less serious, and you can simply ensure there are plenty of options that don’t contain their allergy (and label any dishes that do). For more severe allergies, it may be best to avoid them altogether.
8. Provide a Variety of Cocktail/Mocktail Options
You may wonder what kind of drinks to serve at a holiday party. While it’s always important to have plenty of non-alcoholic options for your guests, holiday-themed cocktails for the occasion can also be fun. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few tips:
First, decide what kind of vibe you want for your party. Are you going for elegant and sophisticated or festive and fun? Choosing a theme will help you narrow down your drink choices. If you’re food pairing, consider what flavors will complement your menu. Once you’ve got an idea of the overall flavor profile you’re going for, start exploring recipes. There are tons of great resources online, or you can pick up a bartending guide from your local bookstore.
Once you’ve found a few cocktails you like, it’s time to test them out! Make sure to make enough for everyone at your party to try. Don’t forget to garnish each drink – this is an easy way to add a touch of festive flair. Cheers!
9. Offer Holiday Outfit Guidelines
When hosting a holiday party, it’s important to set the tone with your guests. Part of setting the tone is ensuring your guests have dressed appropriately for the occasion. Make sure your guests know the dress code for the party. Whether it’s an ugly Christmas sweater party or cocktail soirée, it’s nice to have everyone on the same page. Consider including a note about the party’s theme on your invitation to help your guests plan their attire.
10. Provide a Clear Timeline
Hosting a holiday party can be a lot of fun but can also be a bit overwhelming. One way to help make your party run smoothly is to provide your guests with a timeline. This will let them know what to expect and when and help keep things moving. Here’s an example timeline for a holiday party:
6:00 pm – Guests arrive; drinks and appetizers are served
7:00 pm – Dinner is served
8:00 pm – Dessert is served, and Christmas carols are sung around the piano
9:00 pm – Guests begin to depart
This timeline is just one example of how you can structure your party. The important thing is to be clear and concise so that your guests know what to expect.
11. Setup a Playlist Ahead of Time
The right playlist can help to set the tone and create a festive atmosphere for your holiday party. So, creating the perfect holiday party playlist is essential. Think about the vibe you’re going for. Are you going for classic and elegant or fun and festive? Do you want your guests to feel cozy or excited? The tone will help you narrow down your choices. Once you know what type of party you’re throwing, creating a playlist that matches the style will be easy. Consider asking your guests to share their favorite holiday songs. That way, you can be sure everyone will hear a song they love.
12. If Someone Asks, ‘What Can I Bring,’ Answer Dessert
If you’re hosting a holiday party, one of the most common questions you’ll get is, ‘What can I bring?’ While it’s always nice to have help with food and drinks, there’s one dish that’s always a hit and won’t clash with your carefully planned meal – dessert. So if someone asks what they can bring, tell them to bring dessert! Having helpers will take some of the burden off of you and ensure everyone gets to try something delicious.
13. Provide Holiday-Themed Games Just in Case
If you want to help avoid any lulls in the energy of your party, you’ll want to ensure your guests have plenty of activities to keep them entertained. Games are always a crowd-pleaser, and plenty of holiday-themed options are available. For example, you could set up a gingerbread house decorating contest or organize a scavenger hunt with clues that lead to holiday-related items. You could also put together a trivia game with questions about holiday traditions from around the world. With a bit of creativity, you can come up with all sorts of holiday-themed games that will keep your guests entertained for hours.
14. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you’re feeling overwhelmed while planning (even during) your holiday party, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Delegating some of the tasks will take some of the pressure off you and allow you to enjoy the party more. If you have friends or family who offer to help, take them up on their offer. They can help with everything from cooking and cleaning to decorating and entertaining. And if you’re hiring a professional catering service, ask them about their full range of services. They may take care of more than just the food, which can free you up to focus on other aspects of the party.
Setup and Cleanup
Asking for help with setup and cleanup is a great way to relieve some of the stress of party planning. Most people are happy to lend a hand, making the event more enjoyable for everyone involved. When it comes to set up, tasks like putting up decorations and setting the table can be easily divided among guests. And when it’s time to clean up, asking people to pitch in can help get the job done quickly. So don’t try to do it all yourself – ask for help, and enjoy your holiday party stress-free.
15. If You’re Hosting the Event, Make Sure You Enjoy It Too
If you’re hosting a holiday party this year, it’s important to take some time to enjoy yourself as well. After all, you want your guests to have a good time, and that starts with you. You can do a few things to make sure you have a good time at your own party. First, delegate tasks to others. You don’t have to do everything yourself – let your friends and family pitch in where they can. Second, make sure you have plenty of food and drink for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in making sure your guests are well-fed and hydrated, but you need to take care of yourself, too. Finally, take some time to socialize. You might be busy hosting, but try to step away from the kitchen or bar area and mingle with your guests, and enjoy some holiday cheer. If you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, your guests will pick up on that and have a good time as well. So don’t forget to enjoy your own party – it’s just as important as ensuring your guests do!
If you’re ready to take your hospitality skills to the pro level, Johnson & Wales College of Professional Studies has several online programs related to the hospitality industry for your consideration. From certificates and micro certificates to undergrad and graduate degrees, it’s never been easier to obtain a quality education that can prepare you for professional success in the hospitality services field.