How You Can Plan the Best Holiday Party in 2019

Unsure where to start in planning an end of the year or holiday party for your friends and family (or even your colleagues at work)? Today we’re breaking it down into three simple pieces. 

The first thing to consider is Food & Drink. The second is Entertainment. We’ve listed a few ideas for each. You can easily choose one or two things from each of these groups and then choose a theme (don’t worry, we have ideas for that too). After you choose your theme, you’ll modify the food/drink and entertainment to fit the theme and TA-DA, your party is planned! Even if the work isn’t done, you’ll at least know what direction you’re heading.

Let’s get started.

1. Food & Drink

Arguably the most important part of any good get together 😉 The food and drink can be completely adjusted and tweaked according to your budget and theme (see more about theme below). 

A woman is getting food from a plate that is being held for her, to share food at a holiday party.

Potluck

A classic food strategy and for good reason! It’s budget and time friendly. Choose to either assign each person a category (dessert, bread, drinks, etc.) or send around a list for people to sign up for what they’ll bring. It’s a good way of avoiding too much of any one thing.

Build-Your-Own Drink Stations

Have everyone mix their own drinks. You can do the same thing but with mock-tails if the party needs to be dry. And if the weather is chilly, there’s always the option for a yummy hot chocolate bar with all the best mix-ins like marshmallows, whipped cream, cinnamon, and so on.

Popcorn or Snack Mix Buffet

Perfect for a party that’s in-between meal times. Completely customizable: pretzels, nuts, various flavors of popcorn, chocolate chips, small candies, etc. Provide little cups, bowls, takeout boxes, or baggies for everyone to mix their selections in.

Cookie Share

Another great lighter food option if you’d like to avoid a huge meal. Have everyone bring in their favorite cookies. The cookies can be purchased or homemade, either one will do just fine. 

2. Entertainment

Sitting around talking and catching up is obviously part of any great party, but what about giving things an extra spark of fun? Here’s a few ways to do just that. 

Rows of mini, brightly decorated gingerbread houses sit in front of a holiday Christmas tree. The cookies are decorated with colorful candies and sprinkles with icing and frosting.

Scavenger Hunt

This would require everyone getting out on the town, so plan accordingly. Make it a photo scavenger hunt and have people hop between locations finding specific food things, decorations, etc. 

Holiday Olympics

Unwrapping layers of wrapping paper (with oven mitts on if you want to make it harder), pinning the red nose on Rudolph, Dreidel… Check out this great list of ideas.

Gingerbread House Competition

Exactly what it sounds like. Set a timer and get to work to see who can build the most extravagant, beautiful, silly, tall, or any other type of gingerbread house.
P.S. Apparently Oreo is releasing their own Oreo house kit for the holidays, which might make for a fun twist on a classic.

Photo Booth

Set up your own or rent one. Fill it with silly props and encourage people to participate at least once so there will be pictures to commemorate the event.

Murder Mystery

You can host this yourself (dozens of kits are available for purchase online) or you can go out somewhere instead. It can be loads of fun, even if things don’t quite go right.

Arts and Crafts

Of course we believe that getting creative with loved ones is the best way to spend time with them, but the range of activities in this category is nearly endless. You can make or paint ornaments, old fashioned garlands, felt crafts, picture frames, and so much more.

3. Theme

While not strictly necessary for a successful party, a good theme can really be the cherry on top of a well planned party. It pulls everything together and gives you an easy guide to picking and choosing what to include in decorations, food, and entertainment. Here are five easy and endlessly customizable possibilities to inspire your party.

A person is pouring paint onto a pallet so they can continue painting a holiday themed craft.

Around the World

Food & Drink: A potluck where people bring in cuisines from assigned or chosen world regions. A cookie share with cookies from other places.
Entertainment: Games and crafts can be pulled from various holiday traditions from around the world. Play foreign movies on a projector and/or create a playlist with a sampling of music from a wide range of regions.

Casino Night

Food & Drink: A potluck be inspired by the classic casino buffets. Just about any food can go along with this theme, making it quite flexible.
Entertainment: Turn board games into a gamble. Everyone gambles with candy, cookies, or even real money (we’d recommend pennies, nickels, and dimes so that things don’t get too competitive and drive a wedge in a fun night). A photo booth or holiday Olympics would also be a wonderful fit.

Movie Mania

Food & Drink: The popcorn/snack bar would pair perfectly with this theme. Additionally, candy and finger foods of any kind.
Entertainment: Choose to project at least one movie during the night. Set up a photo booth along the theme of Hollywood or Red Carpet Event. A Murdery Mystery Party set in Old Hollywood would be perfect!

Ballgame

Food & Drink: A potluck of all the classic stadium and watch-party foods: hotdogs, nachos, wings, and appetizers of every kind. A snack bar would be great too. Entertainment: Holiday Olympics are perfect for this theme. You may also opt to project a sports-themed movie or even a real ballgame or to have a sporty scavenger hunt. 

Crafty Cheer

Food & Drink: The DIY popcorn, snack, and drink stations go especially well with this theme. The cookie share would also be wonderful!
Entertainment: Obviously arts and crafts would be the star of the entertainment for this theme, but the Gingerbread House Competition would also be amazing.

A woman is holding her child, both are smiling and laughing sitting on the floor in front of a warm fireplace.

Ultimately, a holiday party is all about spending time with people you love. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but planning a themed night can give things a little extra WOW. 

Set your budget, pick and choose a few elements to pull together under a theme, and adjust everything according to the size of your group, how much time you have to prep, and the amount in your party fund.

Happy planning!

Apple Pie Painting

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