Throwing a holiday party can be a lot of work and stress, but parties are supposed to be fun. If you want to throw a holiday party with less stress involved, it’s important to be well organized.
1. Invitations and RSVPs
Before you start inviting people, it’s important to figure out how many people you can comfortably fit into your house. Assume that each guest is going to bring a plus one when you tally up the numbers, and don’t forget to take into account things like parking and inclement weather.
When you send out the invitations, make sure your guests RSVP so you can keep track of how many people to expect and stock up on supplies accordingly. Facebook invites come in handy here because guests can also ask questions or provide feedback to any questions you have for them. I recommend that you send out invitations two weeks before the event and request that they respond with a firm answer no later than one week before the event, so that you can plan accordingly.
2. Food and other supplies
It is recommended that you encourage your guests to bring an appetizer, side or dessert item, but it is usually up to the host to provide an entrée of some kind. For holiday dinners this is usually going to be a turkey or ham, or perhaps both. It’s usually a good idea to provide more than one option to appeal to a wider variety of tastes.
Now that you know how many people to expect, you will have a better idea of how much food is needed, but don’t forget about nonfood items – namely, toilet paper and paper towels or napkins. Make sure you are well stocked up on both because they will be used up quickly.
3. Booze or no booze?
Many people assume that a party will offer alcohol, but this is actually a rather tricky decision. One thing to take into account is whether or not any of your guests will be bringing children. Some people are okay with drinking around children, but others do not consider this a kid-friendly environment. This is something you have to discuss with your guests in advance, hence the two week buffer time I suggested in No. 1.
Even if children are not an issue there are other things to consider when deciding if alcohol will be involved, such as safety. If you have room to spare, you might consider encouraging your guests to bring a sleeping bag so they can stay if they’ve been drinking. If you do not have room, it would be courteous to make other accommodations, such as assigning a designated driver, especially if your place is in a location that makes walking home difficult for your guests.
4. Activities and themes
While the usual fare of drinking Jenga or beer pong might be in order, you might consider other things to keep your guests entertained and to help break the ice, especially if you opt for a booze-free gathering. Having a theme or a costume party is an option. (Why should costumes be limited to Halloween?) If your friends have common interests, like gaming or sports, you can find ways to integrate activities based on those interests. A white elephant gift exchange can also provide a lot of laughs and help people get to know each other better.
If you’re unsure of what to do, poll your guests and see if they have any ideas. Again, this is where giving yourself time to plan comes in handy. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for input. Someone might come up with a brilliant idea you hadn’t considered and it will help them get excited about the party.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Finally, don’t forget to chill out and have fun. It’s easy to stress about how everyone else is doing, but chances are everyone is going to have a good time, so you should, too. It does not have to be the perfect party and you don’t have to be the perfect host. A little effort goes a long way, and having a host that is relaxed will help your guests to relax and enjoy the evening.
Karen Ingram is a senior in English. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org