Christmas Party: Ultimate Guide to Planning and Hosting

Christmas party

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Planning a Christmas party can be hard work. That’s why we’ve creating this ultimate guide to make hosting your Christmas event a breeze. We’ll take you through the best tips, ideas and advice, to make sure you’ve got everything covered to keep the process as stress free as possible. 

Here’s the contents, feel free to click the links and skip ahead to the different sections!

Christmas Party: Things to Consider

Set a Strict Budget

The first thing you need to do when planning any party, is set a strict budget. The amount you are able to spend will dictate pretty much everything else involved in planning your Christmas party. It doesn’t matter if you’ve not got much to spend, just make sure you have an exact figure, then write it down and stick to it like glue. 
 
Once you’ve decided the amount you want to spend, you’ll need to track everything to make sure you don’t go over budget. Using an excel document is the easiest way to do this. Simply use the formulas to track how much you’ve spent and how much money you’ve got left. This way, you shouldn’t have a problem with overspending.
 
If you want some advice on planning your party without overspending, check out our quick tips to help plan a party on a budget

Finalise the Guest List

The next thing you’ll need to decide, is the guest list. This will mostly be dictated by your budget because the bigger your guest list, the more you’ll need to spend on food and a larger venue.
 
You’ll need to think carefully about how many people to invite to your Christmas party. Try and cost out the amount your party food will cost per person to give you a rough idea. Then look at the price differences for a variety of venue sizes in your area to help you decide how many guests to invite. If you need more advice, check out our top tips for deciding your guest list.
 
After you’ve decided a rough number of how many guests to invite, you’ll need to decide exactly who’s getting an invite.  First figure out who your essential guests are, then decide if you’re inviting both friends and family, and if so, how many of each? You’ll need to decide if children are allowed at your party too. 

Choose the Best Date and Time

Generally, Christmas parties should last around 3-4 hours. This is usually enough time for some fun games and activities, and for you to serve some food and drinks without having to rush, but also without it dragging on too long. 

7:00pm is a good time to start because it gives you plenty of time to prepare on the day of the party. It’s also not too late that you have to worry about hosting the party beyond midnight, unless that’s what you want to do. If children are attending the party, it’s also not too late in the evening. However, you could consider bringing the start time forward a bit. 

We think that Saturday is the best day to host a Christmas party. Most people are not in work on Saturday or Sunday meaning that you’re likely to get more guests attending. If a Saturday is not possible, then Friday is your next best bet for similar reasons, unless you’re hosting in the daytime. 

There are still plenty of things to consider though when choosing when to have your Christmas party. That’s why we’ve created an entire post to help you decide the perfect date and time for your Christmas party.

Find the Perfect Venue

Picking the right venue is one of the most important things to decide when planning a Christmas party. 
 
You’ll first need to decide if you are hosting at home or hiring a venue. If you’re on a tight budget, consider hosting at home. But if you have a huge guest list and money to burn, hire out the perfect venue. 

Tips for Hosting a Christmas Party at Home

Check out these some tips to hosting a great Christmas party at home. 
 
  • Get rid of any clutter to maximise your space.
  • Re-arrange the furniture to the edge of the room to create more space.
  • Throw down some blankets and pillows if you don’t have enough chairs for everyone. 
  • Make sure you have plenty of bins to help make the cleaning up process much faster. 
  • Stagger the arrival time so that there isn’t a massive influx of people at one time which can be a bit chaotic!

Tips for Hiring a Christmas Party Venue

If you’re hiring a venue, there’s some things you need to consider to make sure you pick the best one. There are plenty of options that might be suitable, including restaurants, function rooms, bars and clubs. So here are some things to think about to help you decide. 
 
  • The size and ultimately, the cost of the venue will depend on how many guests you’re inviting. So consider this first and foremost.
  • Try and choose a central location that’s convenient for most guests to get to without paying a fortune for transport. 
  • Consider if the venue includes a catering service. 
  • Make sure you check the alcohol license of the venue to see if they can serve drinks when you’re planning on hosting the party.
  • Some venues offer extras like a bar, decorations or entertainment, so consider the whole package to make sure you get the best deal.
  • Make sure you keep your budget in mind and don’t get carried away!

Christmas Party Food

The next thing you need to consider, is if you’re going for DIY party food or hiring a professional. Make sure you get a good variety of food to make sure all your guests are catered for. Serve veggie options too, and always keep in mind any dietary or special food requirements. Check out our party food guide to help you decide. It’s full of great tips and ideas and info on how much food you’ll need per guest. 

20 Christmas Party Food Ideas

10 Savoury Christmas Snacks

10 Sweet Christmas Snacks

  • Pigs in blankets
  • Sweet potato skins
  • Deviled eggs 
  • Flatbreads with cranberry sauce
  • Sausage stuffing skewers
  • Rosemary dough balls
  • Turkey wraps 
  • Tomato and basil soup
  • Pretzels
  • Antipasti 
  • Cheesy puff pastry
  • Mince pies
  • Mini chocolate Yule logs
  • Festive cupcakes
  • Bite-size Christmas pudding balls
  • Candy canes
  • Gingerbread man cookies
  • Cheese board
  • Chocolate covered strawberries
  • Caramel apples
  • Cinnamon popcorn 

Christmas Party Drinks

If your venue has a bar, then you won’t need to think too much about the drinks. Just remember to drink responsibly and make sure you and your guests don’t go too wild! Make all your guests aware of public transport in the area too so everyone can get home if they’ve had any alcohol. 
 

Of course Champagne is a classic Christmas party drink. But you need to make sure there’s plenty of variety with the drinks menu. Try and include some popular alcoholic drinks like beer, wine and spirits with mixers but also think about offering your guests some cocktails too!

It’s essential to have some non-alcoholic options too. Don’t be boring and just offer fizzy drinks and juice, but be creative and try making some mocktails! Here are some great drink recipes to help get you started. If you need some more ideas, check out our list of the 10 best party drink recipes

Cinnamon Amaretto Sour 

Ingredients per Serving:

  • 50 ml amaretto
  • 20 ml sugar syrup
  • 20 ml lemon juice
  • 5 ml cinnamon syrup

Simply mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, and strain into a short glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange slice.

Candy Cane Cocktail

Ingredients per Serving:

  • 25 ml strawberry vodka
  • 12.5 ml sugar syrup
  • 12.5 ml lemon juice
  • A few dashes of creme de menthe

Mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a candy cane. 

Ginger Cranberry Snap 

Ingredients per Serving

  • 75 ml dark rum
  • 50 ml cranberry juice
  • 25 ml sugar syrup
  • 25 ml lime juice
  • 100 ml ginger beer

Mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. 

Mulled Wine

Ingredients for 5 Servings

  • 750 ml red wine
  • 60 demerara sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • A few dashes of grated nutmeg
  • 1 orange cut in half
  • 1 dried bay leaf

Heat all the ingredients in a saucepan on a low heat for around 15 minutes, stir frequently and strain into wine glasses. 

Luxury Hot Chocolate

Ingredients per Serving:

  • Large tablespoon of grated dark chocolate
  • Teaspoon of sugar
  • 200 ml of full fat milk

Heat the ingredients in a saucepan, stirring frequently until the chocolate and sugar. Pour into a large mug and top with whipped cream, marshmallows and grated chocolate. 

Christmas Party Decorations

Everyone knows that one of the best things about a Christmas party is the decorations. You can either get creative and make your own Christmas party decorations or hop online and find some great value options. Here are some of the best party decoration options. 

  • Shindigz is a great online party supply store that you can use to find great decoration ideas with over 34,000 party supplies for every occasion and next day delivery! This is the perfect idea if are looking for excellent value and variety. 
  • Stumps Party is another awesome party supply store offering custom event supplies and regular deals and discounts. This is a great option if you’re hosting a large Christmas party with a big guest list and you’re looking to go all out to create the perfect event.
Here are some of our 10 of our favourite Christmas party decoration ideas!
  • Festive fairy lights
  • Ginger bread houses
  • Wreaths and garlands
  • Paper snowflakes
  • Tinsel and baubles
  • North pole sign
  • Christmas candles
  • Fake snow
  • Christmas scene wall tapestry
  • Presents!

Christmas Party Supplies

You’ll also need some essential party supplies if you’re hosting your Christmas party at home. Here’s a checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything important!

  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Cutlery
  • Table cloth
  • Napkins
  • Shot glasses
  • Wine glasses

Christmas Party Entertainment Ideas

If you want to go all for your Christmas party, you can hire some professional entertainment! Here are our favourite entertainment ideas for corporate or office Christmas parties. 
 
  • Live band
  • Professional dancers
  • DJ
  • Magician 
  • Carol singers

Best Christmas Party Games

Every Christmas party needs some games to keep the guests entertained. We’ll take you through some of our favourite Christmas party games, what  you’ll need and how to play them, but first, here’s a list of some classic games. 
 
  • Charades
  • Pictionary
  • Christmas music quiz
  • Celebrity Who am I?
  • Cards Against Humanity
 
If you’re looking for some more ideas, head over to our post on the 10 greatest outdoor games and the 10 best drinking games

Stocking Relay

What you’ll Need:

  • Stockings
  • Candy

How to Play:

  • Split your guests into teams.
  • Each time will have a small stocking at one end of the room.
  • Have tubs full of candy at the other end of the room.
  • The players must race to fill their stockings full of candy first in a relay.
  • The first team to fill the stocking wins! 

Drunk Pass the Parcel

What You’ll Need:
 
  • A small prize
  • Wrapping paper
  • Some music

How to Play:

  • First you’ll need to wrap the prize in a layer of wrapping paper. Wrap the present again but underneath the layer, have a truth or dare written on a small piece of paper. Repeat this so there are around 6-10 layers.
  • Get all the players in a circle and pass the parcel around until the DJ stops the music. 
  • Whichever player the music stops on, must unwrap a layer and do the truth or dare written on the paper.
  • Keep going until someone unwraps the prize!

Wrap the “Present”

What you’ll need:

  • Plenty of wrapping paper

How to play:

  • Split your guests into teams of three.
  • Each team must decide who is the “present” and who is doing the wrapping.
  • Set a timer for 1 minute and each team must wrap their “present” in wrapping paper covering them as much as possible.
  • You then decide which team has done the best job!

Christmas Party Music Ideas

You can hire a professional DJ to keep your guests entertained all night. There are plenty out there, so you’ll be sure to find one that suits your style of music in your local area. Make sure you let them know a few of you and your guests favourite songs so they can incorporate them into the night. Or hire a DJ that encourages requests to keep everyone happy! 
 
If you don’t want to spend money hiring a DJ, that’s no problem. You can create your own party playlist and show off your DJing skills instead! All you’ll need is some good quality speakers, an AUX lead, Spotify and your phone. Check out our guide on creating the ultimate party playlist for some great tips! 
 
Can’t decide which option is best? Check out our post on everything you need to know about party music.
 

Apple Music is the perfect way to create a party playlist. It’s intelligent recommendation feature makes it really quick to add songs to create the perfect track list and it’s cross fade feature makes seamless song transitions. It’s only $9.99/ £9.99 per month and you can get a free 3 month trial to check it out. And don’t worry, you can use it on Android devices too!

Join over 50 million subscribers and sign up for your 3 month free trial today! 

Party Invitations

So now you’ve got all the essentials sorted, you’re in a position to start sending your party invitations. But there are a few options to consider when deciding what format to send your invites.  

Our favourite way of creating professional looking invitations easily is to use Canva. It’s a website that allows you to create a range of graphic design media using a range of ready-made templates. They look great, are really easy to create and you can print out as many as you need. 

If you want an easy and quick way of sending your invitations, make a Facebook event. It’ll allow you to add everyone in one go, and keeps a track of everyone’s response so you know exactly who’s coming.

Whichever option you choose, there’s a few things that need including on your invitations.

  • Date and time
  • Location
  • RSVP instruction
  • Dress code
  • Plus one policy

Christmas Party Order of Events

Now you know everything that needs organising, here’s a quick schedule to help get you started with deciding order of events for your Christmas party. You don’t have to be really strict with the timings, it’s important to relax and have fun, but keeping a rough order of events in mind can help keep the process stress-free.  

  • 0:00-0:30 Welcome your guests and serve some drinks.
  • 0:30-1:30 Serve the food
  • 1:30-2:00 Gifts and relaxing
  • 2:00-4:00 Games and other activities mixed with plenty of breaks.

Unique Christmas Party Ideas

So you want to make your Christmas party one to remember? Here are some great ideas! 
  

Karaoke Party

Karaoke parties are the ultimate way for guests to get involved and have fun with the party entertainment. Karaoke machines are really easy to set up at home, you just need some basic equipment. Head over to our list of the top 20 karaoke machines which includes the best party karaoke machine options. It’s great for any age group and can be set up at home or in a hired venue. Take a look at our karaoke party tips for some advice. 

Fancy Dress Competition

Hosting a fancy dress competition is a great way to get all your guests in the festive spirit. Fun.com is our favourite place for fancy dress and they have plenty of selection for Christmas parties for you to choose from! Be creative too. Classic Christmas jumpers are great, but you can think outside the box and dress as pretty much anything. Fun.com have some great unique ideas. But if you’re on a budget, just wrap yourself in wrapping paper and go as a present!

Disposable Cameras

These are a great idea if you aren’t hiring a photographer. Simply grab a few disposable cameras from your local supermarket and take plenty of photos to remember the night! 
 

Secret Santa

Secret Santa is a great idea for small company parties. It gets everyone involved without having to spend a lot on gifts. A £5-10 limit on each present is more than enough if you want to get involved. If you’re hosting a large company party though, secret santa is not the most practical idea. Consider giving a small gift or some drinks vouchers to each employee as a thank you for their efforts over the year. 

So that’s it! Now you have plenty of ideas to plan the perfect Christmas party. We hope you have a great time!

Don’t forget to take a look at our party planning timeline to make sure you’ve got everything covered. It’ll tell you everything you need to do at each stage of the party planning process so you can create an amazing party without any stress or worry about forgetting anything! It even includes a free printable party planning checklist to make sure you stay on track. 

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