Home > Home Organization > Home Organization Tips > Holiday Party Ideas: 21 Tips for Planning, Decorating, & Hosting
family and friends sit around a table and cheers before their holiday meal

Holiday Party Ideas: 21 Tips for Planning, Decorating, & Hosting

The holidays are all about spending time with loved ones—and what better way to enjoy quality time than to have fun together at a holiday party! With some delicious food, fun decorations, and a bit of merriment, you’ll have friends and family talking about your party until next holiday season. Check out these holiday party ideas for games, food, decor, and more so you can host a party your guests will surely enjoy!

How to Decorate for a Holiday Party

Looking for holiday decorating tips and holiday themes that will help you deck the halls, bring some cheer, and make your party shine? Here are some great ideas for holiday party decorations!

Go with a Harvest Theme

A post shared by @instagram

Throwing a Friendsgiving party? Stick with a harvest theme! Incorporate various shades of red, orange, yellow, and brown in both your table setup and wall decor. Make some DIY holiday decor pieces with a few painted mason jars and bouquets of flowers, or hang faux leaves on shelves and above cabinets. And consider adding Thanksgiving decorations like pumpkins or cornucopias into the mix to complete the look!

Create a Winter Wonderland

A post shared by @instagram

Silver icicle lights, paper snowflakes, gift-wrapped boxes, and cotton ball snowmen are just a few pieces of DIY winter decor that will make your party feel like a winter wonderland without the cold temperatures. If you have a fireplace, consider gathering pinecones, branches, poinsettias, ribbons, garlands, and sentimental pieces to create a festive Christmas mantel. Try spraying it lightly with fake snow to give it an authentic wintry feel that complements the crackling flames.

Embrace a Nature Theme

A post shared by @instagram

Looking for simple holiday party decorations? Bring nature indoors by adding some greenery to your home. Hanging mistletoe and holiday wreaths, or draping garland over banisters, placing branches and pinecones in vases, and potting poinsettias are all great ways to give your party some color without looking cluttered and chaotic. Plus, many pieces of DIY holiday decorations that use natural elements can be kept up even after your holiday party!

Search Form Find an Extra Space Storage facility near you

Pick Traditional Holiday Colors

A post shared by @instagram

Picking a color scheme to match a particular holiday is an easy way to decorate! Hosting a Hanukkah party? Fill large glass bowls with blue and white ornaments to use as centerpieces. Celebrating Kwanzaa with the family? String up black, red, and green garland and scatter balloons on the floor. As long as you stick to a color theme, your holiday party decorations don’t need to be elaborate to look cohesive.

Give Your Home a Movie Makeover

A post shared by @instagram

Allow your guests to step inside the big screen with holiday movie-themed decor. Choose elements from popular holiday movies to transform your whole space, or pick a few blockbusters and designate a different film for every room! You can also incorporate movie-specific treats as part of your holiday decorations, like a dessert spaghetti table from Elf or cheese pizzas from Home Alone. Round out the festivities by hosting a holiday movie marathon featuring the movies that inspired your theme.

Add a Dash of Sparkle

A post shared by @instagram

Hosting a giant New Year’s Eve bash? Go from dull to dazzling by adding a bit of sparkle to your holiday party decor! Hang metallic streamers from the ceiling and placing different-sized gold votives on surfaces to give rooms a glamorous flair. Festive combinations of tinsel and twinkle lights around door frames, windows, or banisters can also add a glow to your holiday party venue. To tie the whole night together, you could even encourage your guests to dress to the nines for a black-tie affair or holiday cocktail party—these are great opportunities to throw on some sparkly accessories and attire!

Take Your Party to the Beach

A post shared by @instagram

Escape the winter chill with a tropical or beach-themed holiday party! Invite your guests to dress in their summer best with Hawaiian button-up shirts, sunglasses, leis, and other warm-weather accessories. Create a playlist of your favorite tropical tunes, or play oceanic sounds to capture that summer vacation feel. Deck the halls with beach-themed party decor like wreaths adorned with shells and starfish, driftwood ornaments, palm leaves, and other coastal decorations.

Holiday Food & Drinks to Serve

Whether you’re hosting a fabulous soiree or small gathering with friends, holiday food and drinks that embrace the festive season are a must! Not only will it help you prepare for guests, but planning a menu in advance will allow you to explore all the delicious holiday sides, entrees, and desserts your heart desires. Check out the ideas below to create the perfect holiday menu.

Prepare a Holiday Brunch

A post shared by @instagram

Trade green beans for bacon by serving up a holiday buffet for brunch. Cater the flavors of your holiday party foods toward seasonal favorites. Gingerbread waffles, eggs Benedict, hash cakes, and more brunch ideas make for the ultimate holiday morning food spread. And don’t forget to mention that pajamas are appropriate holiday party attire!

Set Up a Buffet of Holiday Appetizers

A post shared by @instagram

Rather than spending hours perfecting a Christmas or Thanksgiving feast, set up a table full of holiday appetizers people can nosh on while mingling! Some holiday party finger food ideas that will fill up your guests include deviled eggs, burger sliders, gougeres, and a holiday charcuterie board. Consider setting up a dipping station complete with chips and tasty dips like guacamole, spinach artichoke, hummus, or queso blanco. And complement your savory appetizers with some simple sweet treats like a holiday s’mores board, snack mix, and other homemade holiday candies.

Host a Holiday Potluck

A post shared by @instagram

Change up the traditional menu by enlisting your friends and family to help put on a holiday potluck! Invite your guests to bring their favorite holiday comfort foods or stand-out dishes from their childhoods. Encourage them to whip up yummy holiday desserts like cheesecakes, rum balls, or old-fashioned gingerbread. Or put a fun twist on the celebration by arranging an international potluck where invitees bring classic holiday dishes from around the world. For example, a person who chooses Greece can bring baklava, a person with Spain can bring paella, and a person with Poland can bring pierogis.

Go All Out With a Traditional Dinner

A post shared by @instagram

Gather around the dinner table with friends and family for a traditional holiday dinner. Be sure your Thanksgiving feast includes favorites like roast turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. If you’re celebrating Christmas, set the table with holiday decor, and prepare Christmas dishes like prime rib, glazed ham, butternut squash soup, or a hot pot of beef chili. Don’t forget to offer a variety of traditional holiday desserts like sweet potato pie, yule logs, or fudge to top it all off!

Assemble a Hot Cocoa Bar

A post shared by @instagram

You can’t go wrong with having a hot chocolate bar at your holiday party! All you need are some jolly mugs, a hot water container, cocoa powders, and jars of goodies—like caramels, cinnamon sticks, and marshmallows—to customize your chocolaty drink. You can even purchase inexpensive mugs for your guests to take home as favors from your holiday get-together.

Mix Some Festive Cocktails

A post shared by @instagram

Instead of having company mix their own drinks, make some holiday party cocktails. A variety of different drinks like eggnog with a twist, cranberry mules, mulled wine, specialty holiday punch, and candy cane cocktails are great holiday drink ideas. Serve them out of large bowls so guests can try a little bit of everything at their convenience!

Holiday Party Games & Activities

Want to be a good holiday party host? Add a holiday game or activity to the festivities! It’s the perfect way for your guests to bond, and your family and friends will be talking about it for weeks to come.

Capture Memories with a Holiday Selfie Station

A post shared by @instagram

Setting up a photo booth is one of the best holiday party ideas. Rent a professional photographer and booth from a company, or make your own photo backdrop by hanging colorful streamers, putting up stick-on bows, or covering a wall in wrapping paper. To help all your guests see each other’s photos and social media posts, create a holiday hashtag and include it in your invitations. Holiday photos are always a hit, so be sure to properly store your reusable backdrops for future use!

Sing Your Favorite Holiday Music

A post shared by @instagram

Holiday karaoke is a fantastic idea for a winter party. Whether you’re hosting at a venue or home, throw on a Christmas album or curate a mixed playlist of traditional and chart-topping holiday numbers for singers to choose from. Keep a computer or phone nearby to look up the lyrics, or hook it up to a TV or large screen for easy reading. Then spend the night singing your heart out and cheering on your loved ones! You can even make this activity into a game with holiday prizes awarded to the most entertaining performers.

Arrange a Holiday Theme Party

A post shared by @instagram

Go the extra mile and throw a themed holiday party for your guests! A Santa costume, holiday movie, or ugly sweater party are perfect activities to get everyone in the spirit. For a bit of friendly competition at your holiday costume party, have attendees vote for who they thought had the “ugliest sweater” or “most original costume,” and give gift cards or other small gifts to the winners. Or take your party to the next level by organizing a holiday murder mystery theme party and have your guests dress as characters and compete to solve the mystery!

Organize a Holiday Treat Exchange

A post shared by @instagram

Send your guests home with good memories and holiday party favors with a holiday dessert swap! Instead of leaving out the traditional tray of cookies, have each person bring their favorite desserts to share or opt for a cookie exchange. Hand out cute takeout boxes, and let guests create a personal treat box to take home.

Try Doing a Gift Exchange

A post shared by @instagram

For smaller holiday parties, a “White Elephant” gift exchange is a good go-to. Not only will people walk away with something special, but they’ll also get a chance to steal the best gift. Just be sure to let everyone know the maximum amount to spend—and the goofier the gift, the better! A fun alternative is the Left-Right Christmas Game, where guests bring inexpensive gifts that are passed around in a circle, changing directions whenever the person reading the story says the words. Or play one of the best holiday party games for kids and adults, the plastic wrap game. Wrap small items like candy, fuzzy socks, and gift cards between layers of plastic wrap to form a tight ball that players then have to unravel, collecting as many prizes as possible before their time runs out!

Design Gingerbread Crafts

A post shared by @instagram

Building gingerbread houses is another kid-friendly activity for your holiday party that everyone will have fun doing—not to mention, it’s a delicious treat to eat when you’re done! Buy graham crackers to construct the foundation of the home, assorted candies to decorate the outside, and some white frosting to hold it all together. There are even pre-packaged gingerbread kits, too!

Throw a Holiday Decorating Party

A post shared by @instagram

Decorations are the heart and soul of the holiday season, so get your guests involved by hosting a holiday decorating party! Add some sweetness to your decor by setting up a holiday cookie decorating station with frosting, sprinkles, and other edible cookie decorations. Ring in the season with some Christmas arts and crafts by providing supplies to create DIY Christmas ornaments, handcrafted Christmas cards, or homemade wreaths. You can even invite guests to help decorate your Christmas tree with their new creations!

Play Holiday Games

A post shared by @instagram

Make it a party to remember with a holiday game night! From classic family board games like Candy Land, Clue, and Scrabble to crafty holiday games like “Pin the Nose on Rudolph,” there are fun holiday activities for all ages! Bring out the holiday-themed bingo cards or quiz guests on holiday trivia. Raise the stakes with minute-to-win-it Christmas games, a series of small holiday-themed challenges that must be completed within a minute in order to win a prize. Go for kid-friendly Thanksgiving games like a turkey-drawing contest and tic-tac-toe using pumpkins as game pieces. Or enjoy New Year games like “Who Made the Resolution?”—where guests draw written New Year’s resolutions from a jar and have to guess which person wrote it—to pass the time until midnight.


Need to temporarily store furniture or decor to make room for your holiday party? Extra Space Storage has easily accessible storage facilities throughout the nation. Find cheap storage near you!

Holiday Party Ideas