We all love a good party, but hosting? It’s not for everyone. Especially when it comes to “the most wonderful time of the year,” it can be daunting to host a holiday get-together that lives up to the hype and is truly memorable - for all the right reasons.
One of the many hats we wear as PR pros is that of the party planner extraordinaire. Think of us as your Samantha Jones, that fun, sassy friend that everyone calls to plan the best parties and knows all the right people. From product launch events to restaurant openings and even holiday parties, leave it to us to help you “sleigh” and be the host with the most with our tried and true hosting tips.
Pick a Theme, Set the Mood
The easiest part of a holiday party? Choosing a theme. In this case, the theme is the holidays of course, but if you want to avoid the expected “ugly sweater party” theme (or maybe you don’t?), you’ll have to put some thought into this and build out your event with a theme in mind. Maybe it’s a traditional winter wonderland theme or “Hollywood Holiday.” Either way, be sure to check out Pinterest for inspiration, and once you commit to your theme, set the mood with all the senses in mind. Maybe it's preparing freshly baked gingerbread to have the aroma fill the space, decorating with twinkly lights or having a record player play old-school holiday tunes.
Eat, Drink and be Merry
They say most people remember one thing about weddings - the food! The same goes for any event really, although, we would group drinks into that too. Before considering what to make, keep in mind the timing of your event. For instance, if you don’t want to serve a full three-course meal, avoid an event that starts around dinner time. Either way, be clear with guests in the invite as to what to expect i.e. “dinner will be served” or “passed apps and cocktails.” Always keep guests’ dietary needs in mind and offer a variety of bites - vegetarian and meat options - that are easy to eat. For drinks, make them accessible. Keep water pitchers handy and bottles of wine too. We’d always recommended a signature cocktail to add to the merriment!
The key to keeping guests happy is to keep them entertained! Sure, great music, the right people and delicious food do too, but entertainment keeps your guests busy and gives you a whole lot more free time to actually enjoy the festivities yourself. It can be something as simple as a DIY spiked hot chocolate station with the most drool-worthy toppings. Or bonus points, if your activity also doubles as a takeaway gift i.e. a holiday cookie decorating station for guests to make festive creations or a holiday ornament making set-up. Activities help guests get into the spirit of the event and make it even more memorable.
Pics or it didn’t happen - it’s a thing when it comes to events too! Besides, why go through the effort of planning and hosting the most epic holiday gathering if there’s no evidence it even happened? To connect with your guests “IRL” and online after the event, create a hashtag for the event and encourage guests to tag each other in posts and stories. This ensures everyone can easily find and engage with stories and posts after the fact (because hello, you were busy hosting and they were probably so busy having a great time too). This also allows everyone the opportunity to have the memories on hand long after the event is finished. Be sure to keep your hashtag simple, and consider letting guests know in the event follow-up about the hashtag and even post signage at the event itself.
Make Guests Feel Special
When guests feel like they’re one in a million, this entices them to want to come out to an event even more. And let’s face it, everyone needs motivation to leave their house in the winter. Send personalized invitations out to guests or, if time is of the essence, be selective with personalized follow-ups to those you haven’t heard from yet or “VIPS.” Kindness never goes out of style and personal touches really do go a long way. Thank-you notes are always a nice touch and a simple way to show guests your gratitude. At the event itself, personal touches like names on place cards and on takeaways gifts add even more thoughtful flair!
The list really could go on and on, but we’ll leave you here for now! Besides, you have a party to plan! Start with your (guest) list, check it twice and then be sure to go through our how-to’s above again and again. Remember, the most important part of every event is to bring people together and have a festively fabulous time!