Holiday Party Ideas: 19 Tips for Planning, Decorating, & Hosting

The holidays are all about spending time with loved ones, and what better way to enjoy quality time together than to have fun at a holiday party! Not sure how to throw a festive celebration everyone will love? Check out our guide for ideas on holiday decor, food, and activities 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 your walls, bring some cheer, and make your party pop? We’ve shared some great party decoration ideas below!

Add a Dash of Sparkle

Hosting a giant New Year’s Eve bash? Go from dull to dazzling by adding a bit of sparkle to your holiday party decorations! Hanging metallic streamers from the ceiling and placing different-sized, gold votives on surfaces will give rooms a glamorous look.

Go with a Harvest Theme

Throwing a Friendsgiving? 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 centerpieces with a few painted mason jars and bouquets of flowers, or hang some faux leaves on a mantel and above cabinets.

Create a Winter Wonderland

Silver icicle lights, paper snowflakes, and cotton ball snowmen are just a few ways to give your party that winter wonderland feel without having to deal with those cold temperatures. For a more authentic snowy look, gather a few pinecones or branches to place in large clear vases and spray them with fake snow.

Embrace Nature Indoors

Looking for simple holiday party decorations? Bring nature indoors by adding some greenery to your home. Garland on banisters, branches in vases, or holly on napkin holders are all great ways to give your party some color without looking cluttered and chaotic.

Pick Traditional Holiday Colors

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 Kwanza with the family? String up black, red, and green garland and scatter balloons on the floor.

Give Your Home a Movie Makeover

Allow your guests to step inside the big screen with 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 food as part of your holiday movie decorations, like a dessert spaghetti table from Elf and cheese pizzas from Home Alone.

What Food & Drinks to Serve

Whether you’re hosting a fabulous soiree or a small gathering with friends, food and drinks that embrace the holiday season are a must! Check out the ideas below for your holiday party menu!

Assemble a Holiday Brunch

Trade green beans for bacon by serving up a brunch buffet. Put out the ultimate breakfast food spread with dishes like gingerbread waffleseggs benedicthash cakes, and much more. Don’t forget to mention that pajamas are appropriate holiday party attire!

Stay Warm with Soup

Looking for holiday party food that’s quick and simple to make? A soup bar is the way to go! Just combine all the ingredients in a slower cooker in the morning, and they’ll cook all day while you run any last-minute errands.

Set Up a Small Bites Buffet

Rather than spending hours perfecting a turkey feast, set up a table full of appetizers people can nosh on while mingling! Some holiday party finger food ideas that will fill up your guests include mini quiches, burger sliders, cucumber sandwiches, a meat and cheese board, or walking tacos.

Try Dishes From Around the World

Let your friends or family help decide what food will be at your party, and change up the menu with a multicultural potluck! When sending out invitations, assign each person a different country and tell them to bring any holiday dish from that country. For example, a person with Greece can bring baklava, a person with Spain can bring paella, and a person with Poland can bring pierogis.

Assemble a Hot Cocoa Table

You can’t go wrong with having a hot chocolate table at your party! All you need is some cheery mugs, a hot water container, cocoa powders, and jars of goodies—like caramels, cinnamon sticks, and marshmallows—to customize your chocolaty drink.

Mix Up Some Festive Cocktails

Instead of having company mix their own drinks, make some holiday party cocktails. Offer up a variety of different drinks like eggnog with a twistcranberry mules, and candy cane martinis. And serve them out of large bowls so guests can try a little bit everything at their convenience.

Holiday Party Activities & Games to Play

Holiday party games are the perfect way for your guests to bond. Add a few of these games and activities into your party plans, and your family and friends will be talking about it for weeks!

Capture the Party with a Photo Booth

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 backdrop to take pictures in front of by hanging colorful streamers, putting up stick-on bows, or covering a wall in wrapping paper. You can also assemble a basket full of props like hats and fake mustaches for people to use.

Sing Your Favorite Holiday Hits

Karaoke is not only a fantastic activity for everyone join in on, but it’s also good for adding some holiday party entertainment. Create a playlist of both traditional and chart-topping holiday hits for singers to choose from, and hook a computer up to a TV or large screen for guests to see the lyrics.

Hold a Costume Contest

If you’re hosting an ugly sweater party or a holiday movie-themed party, a costume contest is the perfect activity to get everyone in the spirit! Have attendees vote for who they thought had the “ugliest sweater” or “most original costume,” and give awards like gift cards to the winners.

Swap Delicious Treats

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

Laugh It Up with White Elephant Gifts

For smaller holiday parties, a White Elephant Gift Exchange is a must! 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 that the goofier the gift, the better!

See Who Can Unwrap the Fastest

The plastic wrap ball game is one of the best holiday party games for kids and adults. Wrap small items like candy, fuzzy socks, and gift cards between layers of plastic wrap until it forms a tight ball. Players have to then unravel the ball as fast as possible to collect prizes before time runs out!

Design Gingerbread Houses

Building gingerbread houses is another kid-friendly activity that everyone will have fun doing—not to mention, 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.

With some delicious food, cheery decorations, and a bit of merriment, you’ll have friends and family talking about your party until the next holiday season! Looking for more ways to really “wow” your guests? Check out our guide for tips on how to be the best holiday party host!

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Holiday Party Ideas