How to Plan the Perfect Holiday Party

The holiday season is the perfect time to gather your favorite people together and host a party. Planning the perfect holiday party can easily feel overwhelming, as there are so many moving parts, from the location and guest list to the theme, menu, and entertainment. This simple guide will help you plan the perfect holiday party in easy-to-manage steps.

By breaking your party plans down into steps, it will be easy to feel organized and have everything ready before your event. This guide also takes your guests into consideration with the topic of accessibility, as you'll want your party to be enjoyable for everyone. Accessibility is considered in each of these steps, ensuring your party is in the perfect location, has a flexible menu, and provides entertainment for everyone.

Person taking a photo of guests at a holiday party

Step 1: The Guest List

Often the easiest first step is deciding who you want to invite. While many decisions can be completed later, like how to invite people or if they will be bringing food items or gifts, choosing who you want to invite can be a great way to get started in your plans. Thinking about who you want to invite also helps you tailor the menu, location, activities, and even the theme to your guests.

Things to consider when creating your guest list:

  • Who is on the guest list? This can be as simple as writing down a list of names to give you an idea of the size of the party if everyone were to attend.
  • How will you invite your guests? If the party is more formal, you may send out paper invitations. Other popular invitation options include group chats or texts, or individual texts and emails. This depends on your relationship to the guests.
  • Will your guests be responsible for anything? Often guests help with the menu, drinks, or bring gifts. Some guests may arrive early to help with setup or decor.
  • How will you tailor your party to your guests? It's important to consider the age variation and other accessibility concerns, including the menu, drinks, activities, and mobility. Thinking about this early on helps you plan the rest of the party with your group in mind.

Step 2: Choosing a Location

The next logical step when planning a holiday party is choosing the location. For some parties, the location is obvious: the workplace or at a family member's home. But depending on the size of the group, hosting the party at a restaurant or renting a larger space may be necessary. You can see why starting with a guest list is important, because now that you know who you want to invite, you can decide which space is the right size for the party.

When choosing a location for your holiday party, it's important to consider your guests both in terms of how they will move around the space and how they will arrive at the space. You'll want to make sure there's enough parking, restrooms, and seating, as well as space to mingle happily throughout the party.

Things to consider when choosing a location:

  • What is the focus of the party? Some parties are intimate get-togethers, family celebrations, or formal bashes. You'll want a space that suits your focus.
  • Where is the venue located? An ideal party is close enough to most of the guests without much travel involved and is easily navigated by everyone.
  • Does the space offer enough seating? Do you have enough seating, or will you have to rent or borrow tables and chairs?
  • Does the space need to be reconfigured for the party? You'll want to know your layout ahead of time so you can prep the space well before guests arrive.

Step 3: Choosing a Theme and Decor

Now that you know where your party will be located and who will be attending, it's time to get into the fun stuff: choosing a theme and decor for your space. This step will help you create a cozy, fun, or engaging setting for your party.

How you decorate will determine the mood of your space and how guests will interact with each other as well as within the space. Holiday aprties can have a range of themes, from traditional holiday celebration to focusing on something specific within the holiday. Examples of this could be an ugly sweater party, rustic snowy cabin, or winter wonderland.

You may want to choose a theme that can be adapted in a variety of ways. A great example of this is an ugly sweater party where everyone can find their own fun sweater that reflects their personality, interests, and celebrations. This theme allows everyone to have their celebrations represented in a unique, fun, and inclusive way. Choosing a theme that is specific but has space for everyone will make it enjoyable and fun for your guests.

Things to consider when choosing a theme and decor:

  • How will you decorate your space? Keep in mind the size of the space and how guests will move throughout.
  • Which spaces will need decorations? This includes a main focal space, the tables, and any displays, gift tables, and dessert or side tables.
  • Is the theme purely decorative or does it extend into the food, gifts, and games? This will help you with the next few steps to hosting and will provide more ways to keep the theme throughout your party.

Step 4: Choosing the Menu

Many times, the main priority to planning the perfect holiday party is the menu. Some parties have a standard menu depending on the situation, like families may have a traditional holiday meal, while an office holiday party may choose to use a caterer or a pot-luck style buffet.

Selecting the menu for your holiday party is the perfect opportunity to tie it into your theme, while also being accommodating to your guests. You have a lot of flexibility in terms of choices, but it's important to offer options for guests with dietary accommodations to ensure everyone can eat, drink, and enjoy the holiday party.

Things to consider when deciding the menu:

  • What will you be serving? Sometimes parties are full formal dinners, while others provide appetizers and desserts with drinks. Selecting a dining style can make it easier to choose food and drink options.
  • Do you want guests to bring anything? Family events may be more pot-luck style or guests could bring part of the meal, like appetizers and desserts while you manage the main meal.
  • Does your menu have flexibility? Your menu should offer a range of options to include everyone, as well as non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Are you considering your guests' needs? Now that you have your guest list, it can be useful to reach out to anyone who you know may need dietary accommodations.

Step 5: Choosing Activities

The last step to any perfect holiday party is choosing the activities. That is, what will the guests be doing beyond eating? Often holiday parties include playing games, a gift exchange, or gathering to celebrate something holiday-specific. The activities you choose to include can also help represent your theme, but be sure that these activities are accessible to everyone and will be fun for the majority of the group. This will help bring everyone together and get people talking, laughing, and enjoying themselves.

Many families enjoy playing new board games or card games together, which is a great way to establish a new tradition and bond together. A more formal dinner party may have drinks after dinner, which is a great time for conversation. Another popular option is a fun gift exchange where guests bring wrapped gifts and everyone takes a turn choosing one and opening it with everyone.

Planning the perfect holiday party is easier with simple steps to keep things organized and fun. No matter the holiday or setting, make sure your party focuses on celebrating the holidays while keeping it accessible and fun for your whole party. From your location and theme & decor, to the menu and activities, everyone is going to have a wonderful time if you try to accommodate everyone and keeps things as accessible as possible.

About the Author

Cory Lee

After being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two, Cory Lee's thirst for adventure never ceased. He went on many trips around the U.S. when he was younger, and then started taking things internationally when he turned 15. Since then, Cory has traveled to 21 countries across six continents, all while managing to start up his travel blog Curb Free with Cory Lee, where he shares his accessible, and sometimes not-so-accessible travel adventures with others. Cory is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA). He has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, in a nationwide segment for CBS News, Lonely Planet, and many others. His blog won the 2017 Best Travel Blog Gold Lowell Thomas Award. He hopes to inspire other wheelchair users to roll out of their comfort zone and see all of the beauty that the world has to offer.

Cory Lee's ride is a Quickie QM-710.

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Date: 12/3/2019 12:00:00 AM

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