* All digital cards and invitiations have moved! Check out the new pingg.com >

Top Tips to Make Holiday Party Planning Stress-Free

The holidays are busy with parties, shopping and cooking, and nearly always leave even the most experienced host a ball of nerves.

Below, we’ve listed our top 10 tips for hosting the perfect holiday party to leave stress at the door and ensure you and your guests all have a holly-jolly good time.

Keep it simple.

While there temptation is always there to host the most lavish of holiday parties remember that as the date approaches, time may get in the way of your best intentions, so keep the theme, décor and menu simple.

Keep the guest count small.

Avoid inviting everyone on your holiday card list and keep the gathering small and manageable to ensure that you can spend more time focusing on the festivities. If you're loathe to leave anyone out, consider hosting a few smaller parties throughout the season and use your general holiday plan to guide preparations for each.

Send out invitations well in advance.

The holiday season is a busy party time for everyone; ensure that you send your party invitations out at least 6 weeks in advance to ensure that your guests can plan around your event.

Create a menu that is simple and festive.

Choosing a holiday menu that focuses on a single theme, like a gingerbread theme, allows you to focus on a few key menu items. Rather than get carried away with a number of options, focus on the ones that you are confident preparing and remember, your guests come for the company, not the menu. Check out all our festive holiday recipes to get inspired.

Try to sneak in a few healthy alternatives.

Candy and other sweets are everywhere this time of the year, which may make some friends or family members extra mindful of healthy alternatives. Don't get caught unawares by an unexpected request for veggies to dip instead of chips. Wherever possible, offer a low calorie or a few other healthy options for those guests looking to avoid that holiday bulge. 

Timing is everything.

Choose your timing carefully as it will really dictate the type of party you'll plan. Midweek events will let your guests know that this is a quick gathering, while a weekend evening event signals that they are in for a long lingering celebration. Do what works best for you so there's no pressure!

Consider the holiday gifting season.

For many guests, attending a holiday party means bringing holiday presents to their hosts. If you wish to opt out of this tradition, let your guests know ahead of time to avoid embarrassment that can lead to unnecessary stress.

Give back.

Yes, the holiday season is a time to celebrate, but use your holiday gathering for good and give back to the community, too. Ask each guest to bring a bag of canned goods or toys for donation and then donate them to local charitable groups. This will put more focus on a positive party activity rather than frivolous details you might stress over.

Repurpose your party decor.

Often times local hospices, hospitals, convalescent homes or shelters cannot afford holiday decorations. Once you are done with your table décor, donate it to a charity accepting decoration donations. Not only will this make you feel good, it will also alleviate the inevitable post-holiday decor clean up headache.

Follow up with your guests.

As the date and the holiday season approach, reach out to your guests that have not replied with a RSVP to secure an accurate guest count. There's nothing that will cost a host more unwanted stress than a gaggle of unexpected guests appearing at the door!

Find more party planning inspirations for Christmas Ideas

Inspiration to your inbox

Want to receive the latest Celebrations.com ideas?

Get our newsletter »
Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

Read More »
Exotic Cocktail Recipe Video Link to video gallery. Upgrade your spring sips with this cocktail tutorial. »

Inspirations Delivered to Your Inbox

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter and have party tips and ideas sent straight to your inbox! You'll be the first to know about our best recipes, decoration ideas, invitation inspirations and more.