How to Throw a Successful Holiday Party?

baseballmom94December 9, 2007

Help! I've invited 17 people to my house for a holiday adult party -- I was feeling pretty smug by having my house decorated before December and decided to have a party -- now I'm freaking out a little because I don't have a lot of parties so not a lot of experience here. We'll be serving appetizers and dessert with wine, beer, and soda. I also asked everyone to please bring an appetizer or dessert to share. Everyone coming knows each other and are very friendly people. I just want to make sure that I have all my ducks in a row so I'm not stressing at the last minute.

  1. So far, I've bought bacon-wrapped scallops and brie/fig in pastry appetizers at Sam's Club. I'm also planning to do a large shrimp cocktail platter (is 3 pounds enough?) and one other dip. I'm planning to have 2 dessert items. Does this sound good if I do 4 appetizers, 2 desserts plus whatever everyone else brings?

  2. What are some easy centerpiece ideas for my kitchen table and dining room table?

  3. If I serve all the food on the dining room table, do I pull the chairs away from the table and put them around the house or what?

  4. Should I serve all the drinks on the kitchen counter? This is easiest but I always feel like everyone just ends up standing around the kitchen island all night.

  5. What are some other ideas for a successful, fun party? I'm making it very low-key -- not doing a white elephant exchange because I want everyone to relax and not have to worry about one more thing at this busy time of year.

6) How do I get people to use the paper guest towels in the bathroom and where to I place them if I don't have room on my pedestal sink?

Thanks so much for any input from you creative ladies!!

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Hi baseballmom,

Sounds like a fun time!

Here's a bit of my experience following your numbered questions...

1.) I find people eat between 2-4 bite-size appetizers per hour of the party. About a quarter will have more than one dessert serving. Keep your trays full because if the appetizers begin to look like they are running low...people stop eating.
2.) This time of year is easy for a centerpiece...either gather or order simple evergreen boughs appropriately sized to your table & nestled a few candles (shield the flame from the evergreens by putting the candles in a hurricane, or similar, glass), & maybe use a few sugared cranberries.
3.) Yes, move your chairs away from the serving table. Also, people will want to sit down once in awhile so place the chairs in a useable location.
4.) We don't have a full bar at our parties. For beer, wine, & soft drink we fill a copper washtub with crushed ice & put it on the island along with glasses, openers, etc. To keep people moving around the house...don't put all of the food on your dining room table. Create smaller food centers in the living room & other areas where people may mingle.
5.) need music. The type of music will in large part determine the tone of your party. For instance, if you play low-key classical you'll have a low-key dignified party (for the most part depending on how much alcohol is consumed!). If you have 'Jingle Bell Rock' & 'Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer' playing it will create an entirely different mood for the party as will classic rock and/or country. I have burned dozens of CDs with a mixture of music leaning heavily towards upbeat familar songs with a clearly defined beat that I use for parties when I want people to dance & sing along. For more subdued parties, I really enjoy playing Esteban's music. If you're not familar with him, he's a classical guitarist who plays contemporary compositions of modern classics and Flamingo.
6.) Guest a small side-table next to the pedestal sink & put the towels there with a waste basket on the floor nearby. Remember to have extra TP visibly available too.

Mostly, have fun!


    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 1:25PM
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If you search for bowtie christmas party games on google or yahoo you should get to a bowtieproducts site that will give you 4 new original games that will help make your nite fun.

Some of the games especially Sandys Christmas Carol game can be adjusted for nearly any age 8 and up.

For parties mixers like this work because they give folks something to do while they get warmed up to each other. if they want to talk, they can talk, but if conversatrion lags games like these take up the awkward silences that many of us dread.

Whats nice is that people don't all have to be in it to enjoy it. Some can just help out if asked or enjoy the groans of the answer section.

If links work in the answer blocks here's the link

there is also some party giving advice you may enjoy.

My wife and I made up the puzzles and many people really enjoy them.

I hope they work out well for you

John Griffin

Here is a link that might be useful: Free Christmas party games

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 12:36PM
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1) Although I am a huge fan of shrimp and scallops, not everyone is. In fact many people are allergic to shellfish. If you know for certain that nobody has food issues, then that's OK. Otherwise be sure that you have non-shellfish and non-meat items as appetizers. I am not familiar with asking people to bring things to a party, so perhaps some of the more experienced hosts can answer how to ensure a good variety of appetizers.
2)Simplicity is fine- buy some potted poinsettias and call it a day.
3) Whenever I have a party, I push the dining room table against the wall and scatter the chairs around the house. It increases traffic flow and encourages mingling.
4) I keep beer in coolers in the dining room and mixed drinks on the kitchen counter. Mostly this is because my kitchen is tiny and the beer plus other drinks won't fit. But also because it encourages people to walk around and mingle.
5) Honestly the best parties are the ones where people are allowed to just interact on their own. I for one do not like the forced interaction of party games, and many of my friends feel the same. Especially when everyone knows everyone, I don't think that you really need anything besides some fun music (not too loud) and the decorations for a nice party.
6) I have no idea- never used paper towels. I have a towel bar with several hand towels, and replace them throughout the evening.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 8:44PM
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Baseball mom how did your party go? What did you wish you had done differently? How many people came?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 12:17AM
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