Planning Ahead for Christmas - Parties

Christmas can be a wonderful occasion, but the planning for it can often cause stress and financial worry for the people involved. Therefore, in order to try and allow you the most relaxing time with your family, I’ve come up with a series of articles about how to plan ahead for the many and varied aspects of creating a lovely Christmas for you, your family and your friends.

Preparing for Christmas

The Christmas season is the most sociable of the year for a lot of people with work events, parties with friends and, of course, the extra special occasions that are Christmas and New Year. It can all become a bit of a whirlwind, especially if you’re hosting one or more of these parties yourself, so this post will aim to help you stay in control of it all and have as much fun as possible!

1. Work out your diary commitments

Review all the invitations to events that you have received and decide which events you will be attending. More importantly, are there any that you will be hosting? Try to ensure that you don’t completely tire yourselves out by filling every spare minute for the whole month of December and give yourself some free time around any parties which you are organising yourself, as the preparation and clearing up could take longer than you might think!

2. Work out your budget

If you are keen to host a party but are working to a tight budget, you could always arrange it at a time when it’s appropriate to offer nibbles as opposed to a full meal. People will be absolutely fine with this, but just make it clear at the invitation stage so that people are able to plan accordingly. It is common practice in a lot of circumstances to ask people to ‘bring a bottle’ and many will do this even without being asked. Making a few snacks yourself as opposed to buying pre-prepared products will also bring your costs down.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you are having a party where a full meal will be served, perhaps you could ask other guests to contribute a starter or pudding, or maybe some snacks or drinks? Friends will also be happy to help with handing round food, pouring drinks and tidying up, so don’t spoil your enjoyment of the party by shouldering the whole burden yourself.

4. Work out a schedule when hosting

When you are hosting, work out a schedule so that you don’t get caught up doing things at the last minute. There are many things that can be done the night before, such as laying tables, putting up decorations and even some of the food preparation as well. Once the day of the event arrives, be very clear in your own mind about what you’d like to happen at certain times so that you can keep things on track. However, be aware that when lots of other people are involved, things can often take pleasantly unexpected turns so as long as everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, don’t worry if things aren’t going completely to plan.

5. Do as much beforehand as possible

Plan your food and drink so that you can do as much of it in advance as possible. As mentioned above, there are many things that can be done the night before, but some of the food preparation could potentially be done even earlier than that. Even with those tasks which do need to be done on the actual day, you will find that, with a little bit of forethought, you can get most jobs out of the way before your guests arrive so that you can concentrate on the more enjoyable parts of entertaining.

6. Dress appropriately

If you’re going to be in and out of the kitchen, plan an outfit that allows you to keep cool and perhaps won’t show the odd little spill here or there! You don’t want to be worrying about having to go and change halfway through the night and you want to be comfortable whilst you’re whizzing around doing things.

7. Include some games

Work out games that are appropriate to the ages of the people attending, as well as the number of guests that you will have. Board games are great for smaller groups, but obviously won’t work so well if there are a lot of you. For larger groups it’s easier to keep things very simple and play games that don’t need a lot of explaining, such as charades. If you are having a daytime event and there will be some younger children coming along, think about how they might like to be involved as well.

8. Break the ice

If there will be people there who don’t know each other very well or who are coming alone, having an ice-breaker can really help everybody to start chatting. My personal favourite is to write out the names of famous people onto stickers that are placed on people’s backs or foreheads without the guest reading them. You then have to ask questions of the other guests (who can see who you are) to find out the name of the person on your sticker. Simple but effective!

9. Have a mix of music

The music you play will very much be determined by the time of the event and the attendees, but as a general rule, more upbeat music is the best way to keep the momentum of the party going and unless you are catering for a very ‘cool’ crowd, classic Christmas hits always go down well!

10. Decorate your party space

Candles and fairy lights are an easy way to create a festive feel and a few sprigs of holly and some sparkly baubles always look cheery and set the right tone for very enjoyable Christmas event.