We’re getting ready to invite a ton of people to our home this month to celebrate the season at our annual Christmas Party and we’ve been doing it for over ten years. A few of you sent me some emails about how we do it, so I thought I’d share some tips.
We’ve come up with a few tricks for making it flow smoothly, and not come across as too fussy, just a lot of people having a lot of fun. We host our party every year the Saturday before Christmas and it’s a big party with 100 people invited and we usually get a big turnout so we prepare for a crowd.
In the past we’ve started with an icebreaker game, this was before everyone knew everyone like they do now, but it’s a great idea if you’re mixing a lot of people that don’t know each other, we call it the Guess Me Game and we stick the name of a character on people’s backs, they have to ask yes or no questions of other guests to figure it out and it always gets guests talking!
For more game ideas, Apartment Therapy published a list of great party games today.
Sometimes we assign someone the role of greeter (my dad is so good at it) but I’ve also used a sign on the door inviting people to come in on their own since it gets loud and it’s hard to hear the doorbell! I set up a collapsible garment rack (like this one) in my office for coats and purses so they can enter on their own and join in the merriment.
We learned the hard way to have kids remove shoes – we ended up with horribly muddy carpet one year so we ask just the kids not the grown ups to remove their shoes and magically it calms them down too. We play a movie for them and hand out candy canes, it keeps them happy while parents socialize.
I bought two chaffing dishes ten years ago and bring them out of storage every year. I hate being tethered to an oven during a party so I do all the semi-homemade food prep earlier in the day, put the food out, and then mix and mingle during the event.
On the topic of food service since we don’t hire help, I’m not a fan of washing a pile of 100 dishes, so during our holiday party I do use plastic, judge me, but it’s far more practical. (For smaller parties I’ll rent dishes but for a party this size, I don’t.)
I do own 60 wine glasses (I bought a these inexpensive sets from World Market that come with a storage box) and bring them out for the party. I find people really don’t mind a plastic plate, but it is nice to hold a real wine glass in your hand. Charms or labels are essential though.
I line up all of the bowls and trays in the dining room in advance so I know where it all will go – bowls for rolls and crackers, platters for a vegetable crudité and layered meat & cheese plate. I keep the menu simple: stroganoff meatballs, alfredo penne, a ham, and some platters of food mentioned above. Some friends volunteer to bring their special hors d’oeuvres which I’ll add to the table as well.
There is one thing we do spend money on, a piano player. We started this about five years ago, we hire a local pianist to play carols for a few hours – we even gather a crowd in the living room for a rousing rendition of ‘A Partridge in a Pear Tree’ which is always a crack up because if one group is weak the entire song starts over again!
Not everyone has a piano, but music makes the party, so a really great playlist is all you need! Mine is a few hours long – here’s a list of my favorite holiday tunes.
I always pull up the carpets and push back the chairs since we have such a large crowd, leaving room to sit if guests don’t feel like standing. It’s not the prettiest arrangement or where the furniture sits on a normal day but it does make for better crowd flow during the party.
That’s just a glimpse into our house the day of our holiday party last year – nothing too fancy, just a lot of fun with friends and family. For even more tips, read how to throw a less stressful holiday party from a few years ago.
We always have SO much fun each year and my feet and throat are sore the next day from dancing and laughing and talking but we wouldn’t have it any other way. For us it’s the definition of making spirits bright. :)