If you’re set on throwing a party this holiday season, there are a few definitive steps you can take to make sure it goes off without a hitch. The details are up to you, but if you follow our simple checklist below, you and your guests are sure to have a great time.

Be Strategic About Setting a Date

While this might seem like the easiest step, it can actually be the most stressful.

Since most people will be with their families, Christmas day is out of the equation. Most people will be with family or loved ones and won’t be able to attend. With that said, you know your group best, and if you think everyone will be available the evening of the 25th then go for it.

For most of us however, the two weeks leading up to the holiday including Christmas Eve will be the best time to host your gathering– large or small. In 2018, Christmas will fall on a Tuesday, so consider the weekend before the holiday as a possibility.

Every Good Party Has a Theme

Top event planners know how important it is to have a theme. Should you throw a men and women’s ugly Christmas sweater party? Or would you prefer something more formal with a dress code? How about a charity event where everyone brings something to donate to the local shelter? Whatever you decide, tying your event to a theme signals to your guests who will be there and what they can expect from the evening.

Still not sure what to pick? Consider what kind of atmosphere your group will feel comfortable in, and you’ll be able to come to a decision.


Get a rough figure of how much you’ll need to spend before going out and just spending. Figure out how many people you plan on expecting, so you can plan accordingly. You don’t overdo it and find yourself digging deep into your bank account. Even worse, with no planning you can find yourself hosting too many people with too little food and drinks and ruin your credibility as a host forever. If you need help determining how much you’ll need to spend on a Christmas party, use an online financial service like Mint, or a free budget template built into a computer program like Excel.

Manage Expectations with High Quality Invitations

Beautiful, well-though out invitations have the power to get guests excited about your event long before they’re scheduled to arrive.

If you’re planning a Christmas party for your office, it might be smart to invest in more formal invitations. Websites like Shutterfly offer plenty of Christmas card options, which range from formal to clever and everything in between. An easier route still is Paperless Post, an online invitation platform with luxe designs and easy email tracking software.

And if you’re going for super low-key with an intimate group of friends, you already know what to do: fire up that group chat and let people know when and where it’s going down.

Food and Drink Logistics

Last but no least, create a simple food and drink menu that matches your theme. Are you going to cook for everyone, or are you going to have everyone bring an item, potluck style? Should it be catered? Making a plan early will help you avoid melting into a puddle of stress.

Drinks are easy, but (as we all know) incredibly important. For seasonal flavor, find a good eggnog recipe that’s bound to get everyone in the Christmas spirit.

The Spirit is in the Details

What’s a Christmas party without a Christmas tree? How can you expect people to get into the holiday spirit without holiday lights, a holiday playlist, and other festivities?

Be mindful of the atmosphere you want to create. If you’ve set the mood correctly, all of the other details usually fall to the wayside, and people have an easier time enjoying the spirit of the evening and the company of one another. It’s perhaps the most subtle (but important) element to plan.

Photography by Marc Babin