Getting organized for Christmas can be a daunting task. And any big task is completed quicker and more joyfully when you have friends who can help! Instead of tackling all the details yourself this year, consider hosting a Holiday Planning Party.
Hosting a Holiday Planning Party doesn’t have to be anything formal. No gilt-edged invitations required or contacting a caterer! With a few preparations, you can gather together with a few friends to exchange ideas, recipes, and DIY instructions to make everyone’s holiday planning easier, and a lot more fun!
Ready to party? Let’s Plan!
Make a Plan
Before you do anything else, you need to determine the details. First, decide on who you want to invite. Consider which friends love to celebrate holidays, those who have small children or large family holiday gatherings. These will be the folks who will benefit most and enjoy it more!
Next, you will need to determine a date and time. A good suggestion is to talk to the friends you want to invite to find the best day possible for them. A Holiday Planning Party is an informal event, but you will still want to offer refreshments.
The time of the party will determine what you serve. (See more on this in The Menu!) Decide where you will have the party. You need a place to spread out, with enough room for demonstrations (DIY Show & Tell), to write notes, and to have notebooks open at all times.
For this reason, you may want to keep your Holiday Planning Party small – around 4 to 5 friends. This is a large enough ‘crowd’ to offer plenty of ideas, but still small enough to give everyone plenty of room. The ideal room for this is a Dining Room, Kitchen, or a craft room with a large worktable. Consider what you want to accomplish. If it is simply exchanging decorating tips and recipes, you will need less room.
The best Holiday Planning Party is one that also offers an exchange of ideas for handmade gifts. You can limit it to simple stocking stuffers or expand it to fit all types of gifts for any age. Just keep in mind the time you have to create these gifts. You still have baking, shopping, and wrapping to do! The last thing you need on your planning list is what everyone needs to bring.
What Your Guests Should Bring to a Holiday Planning Party
The most successful Holiday Planning Party is one where there is a wide variety of ideas to share. Have your guests come prepared to exchange ideas for anything holiday related, such as:
- Decorating Themes & Tips
- DIY Patterns
- Menu Ideas
- Guest Accommodations
- Hostess Gifts
- Party Ideas
- Gift Ideas (Including handmade items)
Ask each guest to bring a recipe, DIY pattern, an item – such as an ornament, magazine article or photo of them ideas – anything they want to use for Show & Tell.
Your Contributions as the Hostess
As the hostess, a fun thing to do is to provide each guest with a gift bag filled with a few recipe cards, a small notebook, and a pen. This gives them a place to write down recipes, make notes, or jot down ideas. You can also add additional small items, such as a thimble, pack of Thanksgiving or Christmas stickers, or other holiday related items.
To help them keep all of their plans, recipes, DIY patterns and other information in one place, suggest a 3-ring binder. This will not only help them keep all of the information they receive at your Holiday Planning Party together but give them a place to add more as the holidays get closer.
This notebook is a great place to keep checklists, worksheets and more to help their holiday planning run smoothly. The best part about keeping this information in a notebook is it can be used year after year.
Put your ‘Behind the Scenes’ To Do List into Action
Now that you have a plan for your party, it’s time to get busy. First, send out the invitations. Be sure to list the date, time, and place at the top. Next, explain what a Planning Party is, and include a list of things they are expected to bring. Add an RSVP and all you have left is to mail them out!
The next thing you need to do is make a shopping list for any supplies and ingredients you will need. Any time I plan a gathering, I first check my pantry, freezer, and refrigerator to see what I have on hand. I then plan my menu around those items. I also try to find things I can make ahead and place in the freezer. This makes it easier for you on the day before and the day of the party.
Once you have chosen your menu and completed your shopping, it is time to bake. Start with your main dish. If you are considering a Brunch, think ‘Quiche’. This is an easy dish to make and can be frozen for up to three months if wrapped tightly. It works well with blueberry or strawberry muffins and a fruit salad.
Cookies can also be frozen. Make your dough ahead of time, roll into balls and store in a container in the freezer. The day before the party, pull them out and bake. If you are planning a mid-morning party, consider a simple Coffee Cake, Muffins or Sweet Bread. These are perfect to serve with coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate, or just about any beverage.
Create a Holiday Planning Party Menu
What you serve your guests at a Holiday Planning Party doesn’t have to be extravagant. Just a simple meal or a few snacks will be plenty. Here are a few ideas that may work for you:
- Quiche (Broccoli & Sausage is always a big hit!)
- Muffins (Blueberry, Strawberry, or your favorite flavor)
- Fruit Salad
- Coffee Cake
- Sweet Breads
- Chicken Salad Sandwiches on Croissants
- Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
- Fruit Salad
- Cookie Tray
- Fruit Tray and Dip
- Mixed Nuts
- Trail Mix
- Chips & Dip
- Tea – Hot or Iced
- Hot Chocolate
- Apple Cider
The Day Before your Holiday Planning Party
The two days before the party is the time to do all of the prep work. Here is a list of all the things that need to be done:
- Add fresh hand towels and soap in bathrooms
- Make Tea (if serving Iced)
- Clear Clutter from the Work area/table
- Designate a food area (Buffet-style works great for this type of gathering)
- Set out serving dishes
- Lay out plates, utensils, cups, glasses and napkins in serving area
- Assemble recipe cards (go ahead and 3-hole punch these so they will fit neatly into the guests’ notebooks), pens, pencils and other items you will need and place in a handy location close to the work area
The Morning of the Party
The morning of the party is when you will do all the final touches:
- 1st thing – remove foods from freezer and allow to thaw (at least slightly)
- Place pre-baked items on serving platters and cover
- Get coffee pot ready (wait until shortly before guests arrive to turn it on)
- Set up a basket for tea bags
- Set out creamer (if powdered) and sugar
1 hour before guests arrive:
- Place Quiche in the oven 20 minutes before guests arrive
- Wrap pre-made muffins in tin foil and place in the oven to warm
- If serving coffee cake or sweet breads, bake as directed, timing it to come out of the oven just shortly before guests are to arrive
- 20 minutes before guests arrive, assemble fruit salad or tray and dip – cover and place in refrigerator until ready to serve
- Wipe down counters and sweep floor as needed
- Smile! Your guests have arrived!
At the Party
Ask each guest to share their ideas. It is best to structure it so each category is covered at one time, rather than all of them together.
- DIY Gifts
- Menu Planning
- Guest Accommodations
- Shopping Lists & Resources
For each category, allow guests to have ‘Show & Tell’ time. If possible, set up to actually create a small item, such as an ornament or how to make cording to wrap packages. When it gets to the Recipes, offer each guest several recipe cards to copy any recipes they may want to add to their notebooks. If you or your guests offer printouts of DIY patterns or directions, have them bring enough for each guest. These can either be 3-hole punched beforehand or during the party.
Have Fun with a Holiday Planning Party
The only thing left to do is have fun! Gather some great ideas to add to your own holiday plan. Try your hand at making a simple ornament or tuck the instructions on how to make them in your notebook and save them to make with your kids.
A Holiday Planning Party is designed to make your own holiday plans easier to create and implement. And what better way to do that than with friends!
Do you need a little help creating a Holiday Planning Party? All of this information (plus a little more!) has been put together in an eBook and is just waiting for you to download your copy! The Hostess Guide for a Holiday Planning Party e-book is designed to help you plan your party ahead of time to make it as easy as possible on yourself, and more fun for your guests.