The first weekend in December we hosted our annual holiday party. It has become a tradition since we moved into our house and one I hope lives on for years to come.
We typically have around 45 people. The invite says 6 - 8, but not a year goes by when people aren't hanging around until 10:30 or 11:00. And after four years, we're a well oiled machine. I thought I'd share my five tips for hosting a successful holiday party!
1. Hire a Bartender - one of the reasons I get to enjoy the party is that someone else is worrying about making sure everyone has a drink in their hand. We use Professional Bartenders & Servers and they are AWESOME! Not only do they keep the drinks flowing, the bartender always helps refresh the food and ends up doing at least half of the cleanup and dishes before the party even ends. You'd be surprised at how reasonable it is to hire one. I was surprised when I got the quote and wouldn't hold a party without one now!
2. Pack a Punch - we stick with beer, wine (red and white), water and soda for our drink choices. But everyone loves a cocktail once and a while, and tis the season. This cranberry vodka punch is a HUGE crowd pleasure. For the last two years it has hands down been the party favorite.
3. Cater with Costco - the holiday season is busy. And in the first few years I did way more food prep than I needed to. Now we pretty much get everything from Costco (sshhh..don't tell). This year's menu - meatballs (I throw the frozen meatballs in the slow cooker with two jars of sauce), cheese and crackers, pigs in a blanket (a fan favorite), peppermint bark, macarons and shrimp cocktail. I also got spinach dip and veggies and hummus - both of which pretty much went uneaten (i.e. I won't be buying them for next year).
4. Eat More Chicken - when I moved to D.C. my southern friends introduced me to Chik-fil-A. People are fanatics about this quick-service restaurant. And after a friend had their delicious nuggets at her little girl's first birthday, I knew we needed them for the holiday party. I ordered them chilled for pick up the day of the party and heated them up at home in the oven. There wasn't one left at the end of the night.
5. Hang it Up - don't have a coat closet big enough for all your friends? Invest in an easily-stored hanging rack for "coat check." It rolls out of the way and can be stored or used year-round. No one likes to dig through a pile of coats thrown on a guest room bed. Problem solved.
So that's all there is to it. That and have really fun friends, which we do. I've also got an incredible husband who is my teammate in cleanup, making sure everything is back just where it should first thing the next morning.