One of my favourite festive holidays is just around the corner, which means that guest lists, turkey orders, and Christmas candle purchases have filled a big portion of my mental space. With the constantly-changing restrictions, figuring out how to host a Christmas party and who exactly to invite has also been a big source of anxiety; how exactly do you throw an enjoyable party while being socially responsible this year?
I’ve hosted several parties over the years and trust me when I say I know how stressful it can be. From sorting out a date, to coordinating with your guests to accommodate any dietary restrictions, to creating an ambience that feels fun and festive (for both adults and the kids!), organising a gathering can be exhausting. What’s worse is that during the actual event, the host rarely ever has time to enjoy themselves! While planning something admittedly always requires effort, it doesn’t have to drain all of your energy or your wallet.
Check out this space for tricks I’ve picked up on how to host a Christmas party and actually enjoy it.
Take it slow this year
Since we’re still engaging in social distancing this year, embracing smaller gatherings is probably the way to go to make hosting less stressful. Most of us are used to big, elaborate parties, but it may be better to slow down this year and focus on spending time with a few important people instead of trying to feed a large crowd.
You could also set rules around gift exchange and keep them to the minimum – say only purchasing gifts for the kids, or doing a Secret Santa so that everyone only needs to buy one present. We all know how difficult choosing the right gift is for someone, so reducing the amount of gift-giving will probably also alleviate your (and your guests’) stress levels! In fact, reducing gift-giving will also make the holiday season more sustainable, since you’re not buying things unnecessarily.
Don’t be afraid to ask your guests for help
Your guests are probably good friends or family who have thrown similar events before, which means that they will totally understand how stressful hosting can be and would want to help out since they care about your sanity too!
If you need some help with food or catering, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There have been some years where we’ve just done it up pot-luck style – this way we ensure there's something for everyone, and the cost of feeding the whole group is equally spread out. If you need some help with decor, reach out to someone you know wouldn’t mind coming down an hour or two earlier to groove and string lights with you. You could also reach out to a friend or family member who’s great with music and delegate the task of creating a Spotify playlist to them. If everyone helps chip in, your workload is immediately lightened!
Canvass for ideas on mini festive activities
Whether it’s a photo booth, a self-service bar, or providing a dessert table specially for the kids, ask your guests to throw in some ideas on what they would like to see at the party. Of course, this isn’t an invitation for them to go overboard with their demands, and you should make it clear that you may not accede to every request. But asking your guests for ideas can help you better organise mini activities so that everyone has a better time.
Once you’ve canvassed for ideas, shortlist the ones that you (and your family!) would also enjoy. After all, it’s your party and you should also have a good time! Alternatively, you could shortlist the ones that can be executed most easily, so you don’t end up spending your entire day trying to figure out how to string curtains that physically won’t ever stick to the wall of your living room.
Accept that not everything may go as planned
As with most things (especially when you have kids!), not everything is going to go as planned. Some wine may spill on the kitchen counter, and the younger ones may start crying as the night draws to a close. These hiccups might be stressful in the moment, but they will pass eventually.
The party can still be fun even with a few accidents along the way – in fact, it’ll probably be more memorable because of it! Once you accept that not everything will always go swimmingly, you’ll begin to relax and enjoy yourself through the process.
Have a wonderful holiday season,
August Society Founder & Creative Director