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Hosting a Holiday Party: 16 Tips for Prepping Your Home for Guests

Hosting a holiday party this year? Being a good host can be incredibly rewarding, but it can be stressful, too. Thankfully, you can eliminate most of these stressors with advanced planning. If you’re wondering how to host a holiday party, check out these 16 simple hosting tips to make organizing a breeze!

Make a To-Do List

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To help reduce the stress of planning a holiday party, begin preparations as soon as possible. When deciding on decorations, food, the guest list, and your budget, make to-do lists to organize your ideas. You can also create cleaning checklists, RSVP lists, lists of things you need to buy as well as things you already have on hand. Writing everything down will help you stay on track, reduce overwhelming feelings, and even help you hand off tasks to others if necessary.

Decide on a Holiday Party Theme

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When prepping your home to host a party, it can be useful to choose a party theme—whether it’s elaborate or simply choosing a color scheme to give the party a cohesive look. Check out your favorite blogs, social media accounts, or decorating sites for inspiration on the type of party you want to have. For example, consider an ugly sweater party or a family-friendly North Pole theme for a more laid-back vibe. Or if you’re going for a sophisticated ambiance, consider an adult-only, formal dinner party. Deciding on a theme can also help you decide which menu items and decorations you will need.

Send Out Holiday Party Invitations

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No matter if it’s a traditional mailed invitation or a digital invite through sites like Paperless Post, Evite, or even a Facebook event—don’t forget to send your holiday invites! Be sure to send out invitations to your holiday party at least three weeks before your event. Whether you send an e-invite or postal mailer, create a guest list to help you keep track of who has and hasn’t RSVP’d. On the invite, be sure to list if a plus one or kids are invited and if you want guests to bring a side dish.

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Prepare Guest Rooms

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If you’re hosting overnight guests, it’s important to make sure they are comfortable. Get your home ready for friends and family by cleaning and decluttering the rooms they’ll be staying in. Once the room is cleaned up, take the time to make sure all of the essentials are stocked. Fill a wicker basket with extra blankets, and clear out closet space and dresser drawers, so guests have a place to store their clothes. Guests will also appreciate having a bedside lamp and nightlights in the hallway leading to the bathroom, so they can easily navigate at night. If you have extra phone chargers, leave a few in the guest’s rooms, and make sure to share the WiFi password.

Stock the Bathroom

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Before people arrive, make sure to deep clean the guest bathrooms and any main-level bathrooms. Take the time before the party to stock the cabinets with bathroom essentials like towels, washcloths, toilet paper, soap, and lotions, so you don’t have to spend time during the party making sure the bathroom stays stocked. You can even place a decorative basket on the counter and fill it with travel-sized items to give your home a hotel-like feel.

Tidy the Living Areas

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While you may love a coffee table book or knick-knacks on your end tables, don’t forget to clear these surfaces, so holiday guests have a place to set down beverages and snack plates during your party. As you’re cleaning up, you may also want to remove breakables, like lamps or vases, so you don’t have to worry about guests knocking anything over. It’s also important to make sure high-traffic areas leading to your living area are clear. After you’ve decluttered, make sure there’s enough seating for all guests at your holiday party by removing any unnecessary furniture, decor, or clutter.

Clear the Entryway

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The entryway is a high-traffic area that’s also your guests’ first impression of your home, so make sure it is welcoming and functional. Keep entryways clutter-free by moving coats, bags, and shoes to the hall closet. Don’t have closet space available? Organize your entryway or mudroom with wall-mounted coat racks, storage cubbies for shoes, and a storage bench for guests to set purses, keys, or bags down on.

Rearrange Furniture

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If you’re planning on a large number of guests attending your holiday party, rearranging the furniture can help maximize your space. Move tables out to the edges of the room, and place folding chairs, covered storage benches, or ottomans in seating groups, so people can mingle. Pushing bulky furniture against the wall or out of the room completely is another effective way to create more room for family and holiday guests. And if you don’t have enough room at your main dining table, make sure to leave enough room for extra folding tables so your guests have places to sit when eating.

Prepare the Menu Early

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Prepping items for your holiday menu early will not only reduce stress, but it can also keep you out of the kitchen, so you can enjoy your party. When planning the menu, start buying ingredients early, and ask your guests ahead of time if they have any dietary restrictions so everyone has something to eat. Many side dishes, appetizers, and desserts can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the freezer. Simply reheat these dishes the day of your holiday party, and enjoy!

Mix a Festive Drink

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A few days before your party, choose a fun holiday drink to mix for your guests. Add a bowl of sparkling pomegranate punch or holiday-themed sangria to a table with glasses. Or pre-mix a large batch of refreshing Paloma holiday cocktails in a pitcher that party guests can pour at their leisure. For non-alcoholic options, make fun mocktails like a holiday punch or provide seasonal drinks like mulled apple cider and hot chocolate.

Create a Drink Station

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Keeping the beverage area separate from the dining area will cut down on clutter and traffic during your holiday get-together. At your drink station, include drink pitchers, glassware, an ice bucket, and holiday napkins for guests to use. For easy cleanup and protection from sticky spills, lay down a spill-proof tablecloth or a roll of butcher paper on surfaces. Make sure to also place a trash can nearby so guests can easily dispose of cups and napkins.

Have Snacks Handy

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Keeping holiday snacks readily available throughout your home is a good way to ensure guests never go hungry between meals! Place a few bowls in the living room filled with candy, flavored popcorn, or maple-glazed nuts, or create a holiday charcuterie board to set down on the kitchen counter. It may also be a good idea to have a fruits and vegetables tray available for guests to munch on.

Set the Table Early

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A beautiful table arrangement sets a festive mood for your holiday gathering! For your holiday table setting, choose matching placemats and napkins, add dinnerware, and don’t forget a centerpiece! Fill a simple glass bowl with festive ornaments, greens, and pinecones, or decorative gourds, or place a garland down the center of the table. Pick items that can sit on your table ahead of time, reducing holiday preparation stress on the day of the event.

Make Holiday Place Cards

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If you’re hosting a large dinner party, add name cards to your holiday table! Not only will place cards give your holiday tablescape a little festive flair, but they also make it easy for guests to find their seats or as a little party memento for guests to take home. You can make DIY holiday seating cards to match any party theme, whether you stick with a simple paper place card or dress them up with faux greenery.

Designate a Playroom for Kids

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Inviting families to your holiday party? Keep the kids entertained by creating a makeshift playroom in the basement with things to do, like a coloring station at a folding table, putting holiday movies on TV, or leaving out a few toys in easy-to-reach bins. If you don’t have any age-appropriate toys, ask your holiday guests to bring a few items for their kids. You can also create a kids’ table full of kid-friendly food and drinks.

Set the Mood

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When decorating and setting up, remember to create a cozy ambiance for your holiday party. When the guests arrive, keep the holiday spirit going with a festive playlist, or put on some soothing instrumental music. Music helps fill those silent spaces in the conversation, keeping the mood light and jolly. You can also make your party feel cozy by starting the fireplace, turning on warm lights, and lighting holiday-scented candles!


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