With Ontario’s gathering restrictions being mostly lifted in time for the holiday season, this might be the year you’ve decided to host a festive holiday party.
But throwing a party isn’t easy! Being the perfect host can mean throwing lots of expectations on yourself, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as all the elements like food, guest lists, decorations, and the like all start to add up.
Whether it’s your first time throwing an event, or you’re just a little rusty from being unable to throw a social gathering since the pandemic began, here are some tips for hosting a holiday party this year. By following these holiday hosting tips, you’re sure to have a worry-free, festive, jolly good time.
Send Out the Invites Well in Advance
Listen, impromptu parties are always fun, but when it comes to hosting a holiday party, people’s scheduling books are often easily backed up. Between office events, family traditions, end-of-year vacations, and other holiday hustle and bustle, free days can be in short supply if you leave things to the last minute.
In general, sending out the invites around three to four weeks in advance is optimal, as it gives you and your guests ample time to plan ahead to get a sitter, if need be, and ready themselves for the event. On the flip side to this holiday hosting tip, the invite isn’t so far in advance that it may get forgotten. Include an RSVP by date on the invite, so you’ll have a firm yes or no from your invitees. Also, to include on the invite is a reminder for your invitees to let you know if there are any food-related allergies or intolerances, so you’re not left scrambling for last-minute alternatives as guests are arriving at your event.
Don’t Overcomplicate the Themes
When it comes to parties, themes are great! But the key to keeping it successful in keeping the theme easy and open to interpretation. While it might be tempting to host a Victorian-themed Christmas ball complete with period-correct costumes and a dinner menu, it might backfire on you by the time the roast goose needs more time, and the blancmange doesn’t set properly.
If you’re doing a theme, our holiday hosting tip is to keep it simple like red and green, silver and gold, ugly sweaters, etc. This reduces the stress on yourself, as well as your guests, who won’t have to clamour to put an outfit together; when it comes to the menu, if your party is a later at night affair, hors d’oeuvres area perfectly acceptable menu. If full foods are on the menu, having ones that are easy to prep the day before and throw in the oven before company comes will save you scrambling the day of the party and give you more time to prepare for your holiday guests to arrive.
Use This Time to Prepare Your House
In the weeks that lead up to your holiday party, now is a great time to do all the interior decorating you’ve been longing to do in your home (See: interior design trends to try).
You don’t need to go too extreme and target the whole house, but reconfiguring rooms such as the living room and kitchen to allow for an easier flow of traffic and create flexible spaces for your guests.
Don’t Force It
This holiday tip is easier said than done. But sometimes, despite all the meticulous planning, things can go wrong. Invited guests who never RSVP’d show up to your door, somebody suddenly has a food intolerance they’d not mentioned, hors d’oeuvres can burn. The important thing is to keep your cool. Having the host of the party calm and having a good time lets your guests know it’s still okay for them to be having a good time. As the old adage goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs; or, in a more party-likely event, being able to laugh about a little spilled wine on the carpet.
Holiday house parties are great! But they’re not always appropriate to the situation. This could be, for example, because your home is a bit too small to accommodate the number of guests you wish to invite, or if your party is work-related, where you may not feel fully comfortable having coworkers in your home. One of our holiday tips is to consider having the party on neutral grounds where everyone can keep on the same level, letting you and your guests focus on the ambience, drinks and relieving the work-life stresses. Here are two examples of alternative places to host a party this year!
Host at the Cottage
Canadian cottage country is gorgeous year-round, including during the winter. Consider renting out a some Muskoka real estate; or if you already own one, utilizing it for your event.
There are a few holiday tips to keep in mind when hosting at the cottage! Firstly, make sure you’re extra stocked up on party supplies like ice, napkins, and drinks, as depending on the remoteness of your cabin, you might be a bit further from the corner shop than you might be at home.
Secondly, keep in mind hosting at the cottage rather than in the city now requires guests to drive a bit further, so having arrangements made such as having spare beds, earlier start times, and having contingency plans in the event of bad weather is good to have. Lastly, be aware of any potential bylaws in the area. Some areas may have noise policies after certain hours.
Host at a Restaurant
If you’re looking for all the fun of hosting a holiday event but don’t quite want to handle the stresses that come with cooking, cleaning, and preparation, consider hosting your party at a restaurant. There are many food neighbourhoods in Toronto to choose from that contain an array of restaurants willing to accommodate private parties. By having dedicated staff help take care of the food and drink specifics, you won’t have to run around the party and get to take more time to enjoy it for yourself.