Getting ready to plan a holiday party? Get out your pen and paper! This month our favorite party planner, the marvelous Amy Kimball of, lays out a great plan for hosting the perfect holiday party.

Thanks Amy!

The first piece of advice I give is to keep it simple. Keep in mind, simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. Once you choose the type of holiday party you want to host (formal sit-down dinner, casual buffet, or festive cocktail party) stick to it, stay focused, and streamline your planning.


So, who’s coming to your shindig? First thing on our agenda is the guest list and invitations. Most holiday party invitations are now sent via email. The pros to an email invitation? Electronic invites are super-low to no cost and you typically have the guests’ email address in your contact list. But, there is one big con- for some reason, guests feel like they are less obligated to attend (even with a Yes RSVP). Online invites just don’t have as big an impact as a paper invitation.
Regardless of paper vs. email, it’s best to get them into guests’ hands about four weeks in advance. With so many parties this time of year, you want to get on their calendars first!



I always suggest deciding on your menu well in advance and then begin working on it a week ahead of time. Prepare as much as possible before the day of your party; and always commit to having the prep-work and cooking finished before your guests arrive. It doesn’t feel good for anyone if you are stuck in the kitchen trying to churn out things while your friends are attending your party! Another fun thing to do? Add cute name and/or description tags for your appetizers. It’s a nice little detail and is practical for guests.



Eye-pleasing and easy? Yup! Be sure to set up a nice looking and easily accessible self-service bar. I definitely recommend making a couple of pre-mixed specialty cocktails, as well as having wine and beer. A true full bar can be a little intense and most people are happy with a cocktail choice and beer and wine. Oh, and don’t forget the soft drinks and water…. we need to take care of our designated drivers!

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Decorating is an area that can go awry very quickly. I always recommend picking a theme or color combination and then staying with that throughout all your details. If it’s silver and green or a themed winter wonderland, whatever you decide, stay on track and it will all coordinate for an overall beautiful and connected design.

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You never want to hear the crickets chirp; music helps to set the tone and is essential for a party. Make sure you have a playlist that will last the entire length of your shindig and a decent speaker. You don’t want to have to talk over the music, so keep the volume at a reasonable level where guest can get in to the spirit of a party, but not have to yell over the music. I like to mix-up the sound track! Try integrating the classics, Sinatra, Andy Williams and then fun modern mixes like the NOW That’s a What I Call Merry Christmas series with modern artists.

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The most important part of hosing a holiday party? Be sure to take the moment to enjoy your guests and the merriness of the season!

Amy Kimball

TIP: Click on the pictures to access the original photo.