Top 10 Tips for a Happy Holiday Party

I hate to be like those department stores that start playing Christmas carols the morning after Halloween, but it’s true: the time to start planning your holiday parties is now.

It seems like a great idea at first: a warm holiday gathering to celebrate the season and the end of another year together… But whether you’re in charge of putting together your office party or want to host a gathering for friends, holiday parties can be stressful!

Having been in the catering business for ten years, I’ve seen just about everything you can imagine from perfect parties that went off without a hitch to total hot mess disasters—and everything in between.

I can tell you, if you want something closer to the perfect end of the spectrum, planning—and planning early—is key.

10 Tips for Planning Your Holiday Party

  1. Start planning NOW. Seriously. I can’t stress this one enough! If you need a caterer, a venue, or any other vendors, they book up early. “Premium” times in December (like Friday and Saturday nights) go first!

  2. Pretty invitations make a party feel more special—whether they’re hand-lettered or just a nicely designed evite. suggests sending out holiday party invitations a month in advance—see? Emily’s with me on planning early!—and studies show that Tuesday at 10am is the perfect time to send an evite. (Try Paperless Post for some beautiful digital options.)

  3. Make your invitations very specific; spell out whether or not spouses and kids are invited, what the dress code is, and whether guests can expect light hors d’oeuvres or a full meal. Cute and coy leave guests with lots of questions.

  4. Count those RSVPs carefully. An accurate head count is incredibly important whether you’re hiring a caterer or doing it all yourself.

  5. It’s all in the details. If you’re holding your party somewhere other than your home or office, be sure to get—and share—all the little details ahead of time: where can guests park, do they need detailed directions, is it close to public transportation, are there loading areas for vendors, is there electricity, etc.

  6. Consider families. Will spouses and children be invited to an office affair? Are kids welcome at your sit-down holiday dinner party? Consider your guests’ needs ahead of time, and if kids will be included, make plans for them, too: crayons and paper or other small toys at tables, kid-friendly food and drink items, games, etc.

  7. How will you serve the food? A buffet can often seem budget-friendly, but people tend to fill their plates and then not eat everything they take. Passed hors d’oeuvres increase the elegance of an event and cut down on waste. Talk to your caterer about all your options.

  8. Dream in themes. Having a theme helps make choosing food, decor, entertainment, and other elements simpler. Themes can be fun and silly (Hollywood, 1950’s, Hawaiian lu’au) or elegant (snow and ice, silver bells, red and gold).

  9. Rethink your drinks. Creating one or two signature cocktails for your event can drastically cut down on alcohol costs, even if you’re tending the bar yourself.

  10. Think of ways to give back. Leftover food can sometimes be donated to local soup kitchens and flower arrangements or centerpieces are often appreciated at hospitals and nursing homes. Consider combining your event with a canned-food or toy drive with a donation being the “cost” of admission.

If you’re interested in booking Sweet Basil Catering for a holiday party, now is the time to start!  Click here to contact us and start the process.

Have an amazing month!

Amy Aversa

Executive Chef & Creative Director, Sweet Basil Catering & Events

Photo Credit: visualpanic via Compfight CC