The holidays are upon us, which means it's time to welcome friends and family into our homes. We want your holiday parties to be the talk of the season, so we've rounded up our top tips on how to pull off hosting without a hitch (but if something goes wrong, it's OK).
Holiday Lights & Decorations: The first thing your guests will notice as they arrive at your house are your lights and decorations. Give your visitors a warm welcome with a combination of store-bought decor and your own DIY projects using supplies from your local craft store. Mix it up with Christmas trees, wooden snowmen, and a winter village for a truly festive Winter Wonderland. Then light the place up! Hang a variety of light strands yourself, or have a professional in your area do it for you.
Turn up the music: Dead silence can be a party killer! Music can really set the mood and feel of the party -- and help fill awkward lulls in conversation. First decide what kind of music you will play. Will it be holiday songs all the way, or chart-topping hits? Or, make an awesome playlist with a combination of dance beats and 'Jingle Bells' on your favorite subscription service. Or hire a DJ and let them mix it up!
Don't Forget the Games: For serious party fun, plan your games well. Too few and things get boring, too many and guests get weary. Go by the feel of your crowd and select games you feel will include everyone and be the most fun for all. Board games for a small crowd, party games for the fun lovin' crowd. Party games can include competitions, acting out or games of skill (think Minute to Win It). It's usually a good idea to start with an ice breaker to get the crowd loosened up and make sure all the guests are acquainted with one another. Be sure to have a few extra back-up games in case your guests beg for more.
Have a Backup Food Plan: One of the greatest disasters a party can face is running out of food. While serving an assortment of homemade goodies is wonderful, don't shy away from purchasing pre-made foods either. It's always good to have a backup in case you run out of the home-baked stuff. Stop by your local warehouse club store and stock up on frozen cheesecake bites, chicken wings, meatballs, and other delicious bites in bulk.
Hire a Cleaning Service or Maid:With all of the party planning sometimes we run out of time to clean the house. There's no shame in hiring out help to get the house clean. If you're throwing a party to be talked about, take a load off and let someone else do the pre-party cleaning, or even post-party cleaning! You might be exhausted when the party is over, so hire a maid or cleaning service to come help out.
Prepare a Kids' Room With Babysitters: Want to make sure your friends with kids can still enjoy the party? If you want to play with the grown-ups, plan ahead by vetting the perfect babysitter to keep the kids entertained. Even better - hire a handful of caregivers and set up a fun room for the kids to hang out away from the adults. The babysitters can make sure everyone's safe, and have special movies and games planned so the kids aren't completely left out of the fun.
Check Your HVAC System: Having the heater break just as guests arrive on a chilly night is a huge party foul. Have a Heating and Air specialist look over your unit before party time to make sure all is well. Give it a fine tuning if needed. Once you get the professional's clearance, rest easy knowing your guests will be warm.
Plan Your Party Wear: Oftentimes we get so focused on the food and entertainment for our party that we forget about our own outfit. Plan your party wear in advance by shopping at a local clothing boutique. This night is also about you: the host. Pick out something a little different and more special than what you'd wear any other day of the week. Don't forget the jewelry.
Line Up a Pet Sitter: Your pets may be family, but keep in mind that your guests may be allergic. Plus, you don't want your beloved animals escaping out the door as guests come and go. Keep your pets protected, safe, and away from the party fun with a trusted pet sitter.
Clean the Carpets and Furniture: Get rid of pet dander and kids' messes before the party by cleaning the carpets and upholstery. After the party, hire carpet cleaning professionals to turn any punch spills into nothing more than happy memories of a fun time.Kelly Boring is a native Atlantan who has a strong passion for food and fitness. She loves the diverse Atlanta food scene, is always on the hunt for the best queso the city has to offer, and loves mixing it up when it comes to her workouts. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @kalemekelly.