I think we can all agree that holiday parties are the best kind of parties. I mean, everyone is in the best mood (they call it being jolly) because life and work commitments have dwindled, there’s always an abundance of carb-heavy foods and the nog and spiced rum are flowing – or should be, if you’re at a good party.
If you’re anything like us, then as a host, you want to be the one with the best party of the season. Which means you definitely don’t want to overhear Brian at your cheese table mumble “Damn, Amy’s party last weekend had baked brie” when you know you ain’t rolling that brie out. I mean, fuck Brian, but you also want him, and everyone else at your party, to be happy – not just because they’re your friends, but to win the holidays. It’s the Monica Gellar in us shining through, we just can’t help it.
But don’t stress. It’s easy to take your Christmas party game up a notch without it getting crazy expensive. The key is baked brie. Kidding. It’s that and a whole bunch of other things. The good news is that we recently hosted an awesome ugly Christmas sweater party and have some tips and tricks for ya.
First off, as a host you also want to be able to enjoy yourself and not be tied to the kitchen the whole night. You may think that a potluck is an easy way out of this, but it’s not. Here’s why: you can’t control what people bring. In our experience, a lot of people show up with items that need to go in the oven, so you’ll be stuck managing a queue. Or, people don’t just think through what they bring. True story: we once had someone show up to a potluck of ours with everything to make chocolate fondue. Great right? Except they brought everything ASIDE from a friggin’ fondue set. They thought we could just heat it over a stove – which we were not about to do because that is zero fun for a host (and not how fondue works but that’s a whole other conversation). We were left with a Toblerone, condensed milk and fruit. We ate everything except for the condensed milk so it wasn’t a total loss, but still. Point being, there will always be someone who makes it complicated, and a lot of others who will make it inconvenient. Solution: set up a grazing table. You can still delegate items for people to bring, but you’ll have much more control. We’ve got the lowdown on how to set up a Christmas grazing table here.
Secondly, a good host has some sort of cocktail or bar offering aside from a BYOB situation. Of course, everyone should BYOB or bring something to the table, unless you’re ballin’, but a bar station with a couple of items for folks to mix a festive cocktail makes a party epic. We’ve got suggestions on what to stock and signature cocktail ideas below.
Also, as the hosts, you better have a strong Christmas sweater game. It’s important to set the bar high and let your guests know that they can’t just roll up in a red sweater and call it a day. If yours isn’t in the top three, then you either have really thirsty friends or you’ve gotta step it up. We made our Christmas sweaters because stores just don’t make ones as good as we demand. Hot tips on how to make your own here.
Lastly, if you’re going to make Christmas sweaters mandatory, then you’ve gotta make it easy for people to take photos. May we suggest a photo wall? It’s easy to make one. We’ll tell you how to do it below.
The Photo Wall:
- Wrapping paper
- Christmas lights
- Large bows
- Push pins
- Extension Cord
- Lights, we have a good one because we blog. If you want to commit, this is the one we use.
- Learn how to make our DIY Christmas sweaters here.
- Your bar basics; Vodka, Gin, Whisky and Rum. We used our DIY Spiced Rum and Cedar Infused Rye
- Festive Liqueurs; Bailey’s, Creme de Menthe, Creme de Cacao, Grand Marnier, Cognac, Campari, Sweet Vermouth
- Merry Mixes; Apple Cider, Cranberry Juice, OJ, Egg Nog, Ginger Beer
- Jolly Garnishes; Candied Ginger, Orange Wedges, Whole Cranberries, Pomegranate Seeds
- Cheerful Sweetners; Maple Syrup, Honey Syrup, and we used our Best Day of the Week DIY Chestnut Syrup
- A sweet bar set up has a signature cocktail. We recommend serving up our Winter Sangria, Chestnut Old Fashioned, or an ode to Home Alone we call Les Incompetents (but it’s boozy, so be prepared for a wild party)
- We shared everything you need to know about setting up a Christmas grazing table here.
- We offer up a soundtrack for every Best Day of the Week activity, so we’ve linked an epic Christmas playlist for you at the bottom of this post.
The Photo Wall:
- To set up, pick a wall that’s at least six or seven feet wide and can be entirely covered in wrapping paper, so nothing hanging.
- Cover the wall in the wrapping paper. You’ll probably need to put up two to three strips vertically, so if you’re using wrapping paper with a print, just make sure it lines up. Tape the strips to the wall.
- Wrap the garland with lights and drape it across the top of the photo wall, using the push pins to secure it. Tape big bows along the top
- Run an extension cord from the lights to an outlet and you’re in business.
Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
This playlist is filled with Christmas tunes that are sure to get the party started.