How to throw the party of the (festive) season

The details that will elevate your Christmas party to a five-star seasonal soiree

Hosting a Christmas party can be a blast, but it can also be super stressful. Will anyone come? Will people enjoy themselves? Will the house get trashed?

The way around these woes is to make an extra bit of effort, from the invitations and dress code to the lighting and even the bathroom towels. That way you’ll guarantee your party will be talked about until the New Year – when they’ll probably be begging you to host another one!

Read on for our top tips to make your Christmas party extra special…

The invitations

Your invitations set the tone for your party, so if you want a more formal affair then a Facebook group simply won’t do.

A printed invitation is the best way to make your guests feel special – and therefore more likely to turn up. To keep costs down you could design your own. Just keep it simple with a calligraphy-style font and a stylish yet festive border – try geometric stars or a couple of holly sprigs in each corner. Then get it printed on nice, thick paper or card. You could email the invitations as a PDF, but this won’t feel quite as exclusive.

Remember to ask your guests to RSVP and include a clear dress code as you don’t want people turning up in jeans and jumpers to your fancy party now, do you?

The ambience

Obviously you already have a theme sorted, but remember to consider your party when putting up your Christmas decorations this year. Stick to one or two colours and steer clear of too much tacky tinsel. For inspiration, see our article What would Mrs Claus do?

Lighting is key to a party, and luckily you will have fairy lights to rely on. White, sparkling lights are the best way to create your very own winter wonderland.

For the music, create two playlists. One is for the first couple of hours when people are arriving and talking. This should consist of background music and be played quietly. What you choose is, of course, down to personal taste, but weave in a few traditional Christmas songs to get everyone in the spirit.

The next playlist is for when the party cranks up and people are ready for a dance and a singalong. This is when you can bring out the crowd pleasers: chart hits, pop, 80s ballads and, of course, Mariah Carey, Wizard, Slade and co. Come on, it is Christmas after all!

The food

Anyone can shove some mini sausage rolls in the oven and pour a few bags of crisps into bowls, but if you want to crank up the fancy factor, you need to splurge on the food. Try juicy shrimps with dipping sauces; a whole roasted salmon; cooked ham (try this gammon with a maple and plum glaze and don’t forget a cheese board with chutneys and fruit.

For more inspiration, see our Easy party food ideas, and for dessert, try one (or more!) of these cracking Christmas cakes.

The dress

If you love to glam up, this is the biggest opportunity of the year. No one could blame the hostess for putting on a party frock when she’s entertaining, so go for full-on sparkles and your favourite lipstick. Just make sure your shoes are comfy – there’s no need for stilettos that sink into your shag-pile, unless you really want to.

This season’s party dresses are the most figure-hugging for years, but even if you’re on your period, there’s no need to fear VPL (Visible Pad Line!) when you have a supply of Tampax Compak Pearl tampons on hand. In fact with Tampax, you can party on with up to 8 hours of protection*.

The VIP experience

From the minute your guests arrive they should feel like they’re special, so make sure you or your spouse are there to greet them at the door and take their coats.

If you have a willing youngster, you could even employ them as a cloakroom attendant. If they need bribing, say they can stay up an hour past bedtime if they help with coats for an hour at the start of the evening. Buy an adjustable clothes rail and pop it in the spare room so you’ve got somewhere to hang the coats.

You could also turn your kitchen breakfast bar or table into a makeshift bar. Stock up with drinks and mixers, ice, bottle openers and even a cocktail shaker if you’re feeling adventurous. If you don’t want to risk glassware and want to save on washing up, buy some sturdy plastic wine and pint glasses, rather than standard plastic cups that look cheap and have a tendency to split – then you can re-use them all year.

You and your spouse can take turns manning the bar – far from being a chore, it’s actually a great spot to make sure you get to chat to everyone (and you have a great excuse to get away from anyone you’d rather not talk to!).

Another place where the little details go a long way is the bathroom. Give it a good clean, stock up on posh toilet paper and supply plentiful clean, fluffy hand towels. Also invest in some fancy new gorgeous-smelling hand wash and lotion, and supply a discreet basket of feminine care, including Tampax Compak Pearl tampons.

Finally, give guests a little party favour to take home. Perhaps a homemade tree decoration or a fancy festive tea and truffle gift bag – the perfect memento for a momentous party.

*Use 8 hours maximum.

What are your secrets to the perfect party? Let us know in the comments section below.