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Holiday parties are a great way to get friends and family together to relax, have a few laughs, and enjoy the season.

Like training for a marathon, planning a party is also a great way to whip your house into shape. It gives you the perfect excuse/reason to force yourself to deep clean and get organized. It also gives you a deadline so that you actually do it!

But when you’re frantically trying to finish cleaning, plan the menu, and pull everything together the day before the party? It’s overwhelming!

Whether it’s your turn to host Thanksgiving or you just want to have a holiday party for your friends, the trick to having a great holiday gathering is planning ahead.

These seven tips will help you plan a successful party!

Download the free holiday planner for even more help as you plan your party!

7 Secrets to Plan the Perfect Holiday Party

Sign up to get the free Organized Holiday Planner. It's 19 pages of gift trackers, Christmas card checklists, meal plans, more to make your holiday simple.

Create a theme

Having a themed party doesn’t have to be cheesy! But if you want a successful party, you’ll need to think of the basic details, starting with a purpose for the party. For example, have a wine and cheese party or a barbecue.

If you’re having a holiday dinner, like the Thanksgiving meal or Christmas Day brunch, your theme may already be set in stone, but feel free to take it a step further. Let guests know that you’ll be watching football and having snacks after the main Thanksgiving dinner or tell them that you’re hosting a casual “slippers welcome” Christmas Day brunch while the kids play with their new toys.

Creating a simple theme will help your guests know what to expect at the party. It’ll give them an idea of how they should dress and what they should bring.

A theme will also help you feel more comfortable and organized, especially if this is your first big party.

Plan a simple menu

Trying to plan a holiday dinner is simple with this meal plan to track what you're making and who's bringing it

When planning your menu, keep it simple. You’ll want to give your guests a choice (a few different types of meats, appetizers, desserts, etc.), but there’s no need to overcomplicate your menu.

You’ll want to be considerate of your guests’ needs, especially if any of your guests have dietary restrictions, but again, there’s no need to overthink this.

For example, if a guest is allergic to tree nuts, make sure that there are a few dishes for your guests to enjoy (you may want to label these dishes and make sure that there are separate serving utensils), but your guests won’t expect you to cater every dish to their needs.

Involve guests

Keep track of guests with this holiday party organizer. Know who's coming and what they're bringing!

Guests will often ask what they can bring. Be specific and don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring a dish to pass.

Not only will this reduce some of the party planning pressure on you, but it’ll also make sure that your guests will be able to eat at least one thing on the menu!

Follow a planning timeline

Follow a cleaning plan to get your holiday party prep organized!

Start getting ready for the party ahead of time. To save yourself from getting frazzled, start planning at least a month in advance!

Make a list of everything that you need to do and make notes of when you need to have everything done.

In addition to getting your house ready, this is also a great time to finalize your guest list, finish planning the menu, and ask for help!

Stock up

Start stocking up on non-perishables as soon as possible. Think about everything that you’ll need, from serving dishes to paper plates to meal ingredients.

Make a list of everything that you’ll need and add it to your party planner with a deadline.

If you can, prepare some items ahead of time. Many meals (or even the basic ingredients) can be frozen or prepared a day or two ahead so that you won’t need to spend so much time cooking on the day of the party.

Remember the little details

Make your guests feel welcome. Creating a toiletries basket is an easy way to make guests feel comfortable.

As you’re cleaning, preparing food, and getting ready for the party, don’t forget about the little details.

Focus your cleaning efforts on the areas of your house where your guests will be and think of things like extra soap, toilet paper, etc., that your guests might need.

Make a basket filled with extra toilet paper to store on the back of the toilet. Also, create a little basket filled with fun soaps or other toiletries that your guests may need so that they don’t need to go hunting. After the party, store the baskets for your next gathering.

You may even want to create baskets for cutlery and paper products. After the party, store the baskets with the extra paper products (paper plates, napkins, etc.) so that you create a stockpile for your next party.

Relax

This chalkboard mug is such a cute gift idea.

Especially the day before and the day of the party, your house may seem chaotic. But make sure to spend some time relaxing.

Even if it’s getting up five minutes earlier to enjoy a hot cup of coffee or reading a good book for five minutes before going to bed the night before, take a few minutes to unwind. This will help calm you down and create a more relaxed environment, for both you and your guests!

Also, don’t forget to leave yourself enough time to get ready before the party. The last thing you want to do is have guests arrive while you’re still in your bathrobe!

Set an end time for an hour before the first guests will arrive and work backward from that. If you need 30 minutes to get ready, allow yourself an hour and start early! Then spend the time before the guests arrive putting the finishing touches on the food and your home.

Make sure you spend a couple of minutes enjoying your clean home before the party starts! 😉

Planning and hosting a party can be chaotic, but by working ahead of time and following these tricks, your party will be smoother and you’ll enjoy yourself more.

These 7 tips made hosting my first Christmas party so much easier. I love the free printable holiday planner, too! It makes keeping track of the menu and guests simple!