The holidays are one of the best – and most stressful – times of the year. From gift shopping to family get-togethers to icy commutes, it’s all enough to make even the most level-headed merry makers go mad.
But there’s also magic in all the madness. And while this Christmas has already made a definite impact on my sleep and my pocket book, I couldn’t resist the idea of throwing a fun and festive cocktail party for my best friends.
It had been a few years since I’d thrown a holiday party, and all the experts will tell you the key to hosting a great get-together is to plan ahead. HA! It’s a nice idea, but we all know how the holidays can get away from us. Thanks to my procrastinating ways, I’ve learned some easy tricks to pull some last-minute party magic. I think these tips add up to a perfect merry-making formula:
1. Take advantage of social media: I’m still old-fashioned when it comes to communication. I send hand-written thank-you notes and have even been known to snail mail my credit card payment. A fancy, printed invite would have been nice, but when you’re up against the clock, set up a Facebook event and let social media do its magic.
2. Keep it simple: Resist the temptation to stock the bar. Make one or two crowd-pleasing festive drinks that are easy to share. The last thing you want is to be stuck on bartending duty all night instead of enjoying your own party. Throw some wine, juice, and spices in a large pot on the stove for a drink that smells as good as it tastes. A self-serve champagne bar is eye-catching, luxurious, and deceptively easy to pull together.
Keep it simple when it comes to decorating, too. I let my Christmas tree do all of the work. Focus on clearing out enough space for guests to mix and mingle; that’s way more important than another lighted garland.
3. Teamwork doesn’t seem work: To save time and money, don’t hesitate to ask guests to bring things to share. And remember, crowd-pleasers like cheese, crackers, and holiday M&Ms are your best friends. You want to spend your time enjoying the party, not slaving over the stove.
4. Don’t just press shuffle: I’m convinced the key to a great party is a solid playlist. Even if no one is paying attention to the music, or dancing, great tunes set the vibe for an even better party. Spotify is a great way to go – you can create free customized playlists and add songs as they come to mind throughout the day. When the guests arrive, invite them to add their favorites to the playlist.
5. Forget perfection: Not only do you not have time for it, but no one cares. Promise. Champagne flutes don’t match? That’s actually perfect. Mismatched is way more charming anyway.
6. Last but not least: Don’t forget to warn – and invite—the neighbors!
Fortunately, snowy Salt Lake Decembers have an awesome way of creating the perfect backdrop for any holiday party, and the night was a smashing success. I might just have to do it again next year.
Images courtesy Abigail Kaden