It’s been a couple of months since you moved in with your boyfriend and you can’t wait to bring people over to check out your new home. During summer, a couple of lemonades and alcoholic cocktails do the trick. Come fall, you can spread out some cookies and mulled wine for them. In winter though, as holidays approach, soirees become full-fledged parties. Hosting a Christmas party to do the home tour for all your friends and family is a great idea but can be daunting. Everybody’s cooking their ass of on holidays and you’re sure you can’t possibly impress your mom or grandma.
Well, who said you have to? Here are my tips for hosting a great Christmas party where everyone feels welcomed:
1.Get some fuel in
First, take out your finest red wine. Fill a glass. Now, drink it! Really, start by chilling out. Parents, friends, bosses – they know you and your hubby have just started living together and are no pros at hosting events. They’re going to have low expectations and you can work that in your favor 😉
Now, that we’ve gotten “freaking out” out of the way, put some Christmas carols on and let’s get to work.
2. Go with an unconventional table and seat arrangement
If you don’t have much space to host a proper, sophisticated dinner, improvise. Put a long, rectangular table in the middle of the room. People will get the idea – serve yourself, mingle, sit or don’t sit – it’s your choice. This is a winning solution if:
a. you don’t have enough chairs for all the people coming
b. you don’t want people to talk only with the ones they came with or know; exchanging words over a punch bowl or toasting eggnog is easier when you bump into a fellow guest
c. you want to avoid awkward situations between relatives who don’t stand each other (that happens in every family, believe me)
Still, you should have more than one chair available, if people request it. Go with a couple of beanbags for friends, an armchair or two for parents and adjustable bar stools.
3.Make the room warm and inviting
Bring a smile on the most tight lips at the party with candles in every corner, cinnamon or apple scented diffusors, cozy blankets hanging on the back of the chairs and fluffy pillows.
You can also have ready some comfy slippers if your party is more casual than glitzy. Believe me, you’ll make everybody feel at home.
4.Opt for versatile snacks, festive drinks and cheerful desserts
Here’s the moment you’ll feel overwhelmed. Make sure you don’t snap or burn your fingers before Christmas Eve by thinking things through.
Don’t try to be a Martha Stewart if you don’t have the cooking gene. Instead focus on visual appeal.
Select appetizers like: mini quiches with spinach, feta and mushrooms; nachos with different dips (pesto+yoghurt, sour cream + parsley, sundried tomatoes+cottage cheese); tartlets with prosciutto and mozarella; tortillas with roast turkey cut in small rolls
Go for drinks: punch, eggnog, mulled wine, marshmallow hot chocolate, spiced chai and bubbly, of course
Prepare desserts such as: these chocolate pots from Jamie Oliver (I’m actually going to do them this Christmas), gingerbread biscuits, glazed biscotti, red velvet cupcakes with sprinkles from crushed candy canes
5.Set the table your way
Don’t follow all the rules in the book – make it an extension of you guys as a couple. While some things are basics (red or white plates, cloth napkins, 2 or 3 candlesticks depending on the table length, a tablecloth in white with gold/silver linings or forest green or red or a neutral grey), others can be more fun/sentimental. Check out the things I’ll use to set the Christmas table!
Pour the hot chocolate in winter-inspired mugs and the mulled wine in rustic cups. Write small messages on all the cupcake papers or put small flags with wishes in all. Arrange cards near the dishes with fun presentatios of the food. Alternatively, write in the cards cheeky instructions like: “Grandma, the eggnog is forbidden. Just kiddin’ -get wild!”. Dress up every champagne glass with red bows and white sugar sprinkled on the rim.
Last but not least, show who you both are at heart by spreading Star Wars tree ornaments, snow globes, Harry Potter coasters and more on the table, between the bowls and plates.
6.Involve all of them
Tell everyone beforehand that they will be responsible with trimming the tree this year. Ask every person to bring a tree decoration while you take care of the lights.
This trick will make your schedule more free, they will feel involved from the get-go and the small group activity is sure to make socializing easier.
7.Put aside goodies for everyone
This has to be done ahead of the party (start next week). I’m talking about a goodie bag for each guest instead of a present (hunting for them is time consuming and nerve-racking when friends “have everything” and parents “don’t want you to fuss about it”).
What can you put in? A DIY tree ornament, a fun, scented candle, a Christmas card with personalized wishes, a detox kit for the post-holiday coma, a pair of Christmas-y socks, a Samta hat, some of the night’s best treats (biscotti/cupcake…) – you name it! The idea is to be fun and homemade or personal to them. Decorate the bag with pinecones, cinnamon sticks and Christmas tree branches.
8.Have a couple of party games up your sleeve
If the party becomes a bore depressingly soon, it’s best to have some activities in mind. Charades is a good game for everyone, young and old. Karaoke with carols is sure to be fun and in spirit with the holidays. Childhood videos will make your folks get all sentimental and your buddies crack up. If all else fails. get them outside with an excuse and start a massive snowball fight!
That’s about it! What do you think – can you survive your first Christmas dinner as a host?
photo credits: Aliis Sinisalu, Aaron Burden, Mira Bozhko, Caleb Woods, Brooke Lark/Unsplash, photobucket.com,