Holiday Party Planning Made Easy

Parties are plentiful amidst the holiday season. Whether you’re hosting or attending, we have some suggestions to simplify the planning process these often-stressful seasonal celebrations.

  • Holiday Desserts Party
    Blair Rumley

    Holiday Desserts Party

    We wait all year for the flavors of pumpkin and peppermint to fill the grocery aisles and bakery shelves, thus can’t help but to throw parties in their honor. But holiday desserts are the nemesis of holiday diets. If you dread the dilemma between desserts and diets, try making miniature desserts (like Mini Pecan Pies or Mini Peppermint and Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes) for your seasonal soiree so you can sample each sweet, sans the guilt.

  • Holiday Open House
    Blair Rumley, Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr, Leigh Ann Ross

    Holiday Open House

    After decorating your home for the holidays, there is no better way to show off your handiwork than a Holiday Open House. After the décor is done—pumpkins carved, tree trimmed, or menorah on the mantle—it’s time to for food. Consider doing heavy hors d’oeuvres (like these Dazzling Gourmet Hors d'Oeuvres) and finger foods (like these Savvy Finger Foods) to maximize mingling among guests. And of course, many hors d’oeuvres and finger foods can be made ahead or require no cooking at all, allowing for more dedication to décor.

  • Holiday Office Party
    Blair Rumley, Photo: Sean Locke/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Holiday Office Party

    Plan an office party that’s promotion-worthy. After deciding on décor, consult with colleagues about location and food. To cut costs, try turning your work environment into a play environment. Cover boardroom tables with luxurious linins and festive finger foods. And if it’s after hours, be sure you have celebratory cocktails (like these on-hand. You may even impress your Scrooge-like superiors.

  • Seasonal Cocktail Celebration
    Blair Rumley, Photo: Howard L. Puckett; Styling: Lindsey Ellis Beatty

    Seasonal Cocktail Celebration

    Cocktails or mocktails (like these Festive Holiday Drinks—Hold the Spirits), celebrating with seasonal sippers is always a good time. Because alcohol and mixers can get expensive, let guests bring their own libations. Pair wines with a simple cheese plate and beers with simple snack mixes. And rather than having countless cocktails, cut costs by serving a signature sipper (like this Gingerbread Martini) and be a makeshift mixologist.

  • Holiday Party Potluck
    Blair Rumley

    Holiday Party Potluck

    Potluck parties are the simple ways to celebrate stress-free. Assign guests to bring cocktails, appetizers, entrees, sides, or desserts for a perfectly portioned meal. And if attending a potluck party, make sure your dish travels well.

  • Holiday Brunch
    Blair Rumley

    Holiday Brunch

    Brunch is better for smaller celebrations. Try to making some dishes the night before (like these Pumpkin Parfaits), so the cooking doesn’t start at sunrise. And of course, no brunch is complete without a cocktail, like a festive Bloody Mary Punch. For added elegance, offer a simple coffee bar with pumpkin or peppermint flavored creamers and generous portions of whipping cream.

  • Ornament Swap
    Blair Rumley, Photo: Beau Gustafson; Styling: Cathy Still Johnson

    Ornament Swap

    After the actual ornament swap, gift your guests with a parting present courtesy of your own kitchen. Try a bagged bundle of decorated cookies (like some of these 50 Fabulous Holiday Cookies) or fun food gifts (like these Heartwarming Gifts from the Kitchen).

  • <p>Tacky Sweater Party</p>
    Blair Rumley, Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Jan Gautro

    Tacky Sweater Party

    It’s time to celebrate the season, the camaraderie, and, of course, the tackiest piece of Christmas clothing you could find. Ugly sweater parties are all the rage during the holidays. Make the food you serve as tacky as the sweater you wear. Ask your guests to bring something that matches their sweater style or serve up some sweets that will surely keep your guests entertained.

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