Autumn has barely started. The leaves are still on the trees and you haven’t seen a single candy cane on store shelves. You haven’t even picked out your Halloween pumpkin yet. As you enjoy the sights of fall, it’s easy to forget about the winter holidays waiting right around the corner. If you’ll be hosting a holiday party, though, it can be useful to take some of the pressure off yourself now.
Here are six party planning tips you can use to conquer your holiday celebration without the last-minute stress.
Devise Your Game Plan
If you want to avoid scrambling to get everything ready for your holiday extravaganza, it’s a good idea to come up with a detailed plan of attack in the early months of fall.
Take a look at your calendar and see how many weeks you have until the desired date of your party. Then, chart out goal dates for finishing important tasks like mailing invitations, finalizing the menu or booking a venue. Space out your goals throughout the time you have available so you’re not overwhelmed later on.
Though you don’t have to adhere to your plan perfectly, setting achievable goals well ahead of time can help you plan your party like a professional.
Make Your Guest List
Start thinking about your guest list as soon as you know you’ll be hosting a party. In the weeks and months leading up to the event, start mentioning your party to potential guests to gauge their interest. If someone mentions they have other plans, you can adjust the date or strike their name from the list if you can’t make it work.
Making your guest list early also gives you a great opportunity to find out what kind of party your guests would prefer. If you don’t already have your heart seat on a particular theme or style of party, ask your guests what they’d be interested in. Would they like to do a gift exchange? Would they want a sit-down meal or free-roaming mixer?
Though you should always plan the party you want, casually consulting your guests early can help you narrow down your options.
Send Out Invitations
Once you have your guest list, you can begin sending out formal invitations. It’s a good idea to send invitations early — at least three weeks in advance — so that guests have a chance to check their schedules and RSVP.
Because the holiday season can be so busy, impress your guests by sending invitations early and giving them plenty of time to respond. This allows guests to hold onto your invitation for a while and make sure no conflicts arise before they reply.
By taking care of invites early, you’ll ensure you won’t have any last-minute confusion about who’s showing up.
Start Thinking About Decorations
The holiday season provides ample opportunity to express your personality through decoration, and your holiday party is no exception. Your decorations will rely on the tone of your party and your own personal style.
As the end of fall approaches, think about what vibe you want your party to have. Is it sophisticated? Cozy? Kid-friendly? When you understand how you want guests at your party to feel about the season, you can choose decorations that match that theme.
If you know what theme you’re going for, make a list of decorations you might like to have — such as certain kinds of flowers, dishes, or a color scheme — and set a budget. When November 1st hits, you’ll be able to find exactly what you need, no aimless browsing required.
Plan Out Your Menu
Food is often the central focus of a holiday party. As such, it’s also often a point of stress for the hosts. You don’t want to find yourself struggling to put a meal together the night before your celebration. Take some time early in the season to thoughtfully plan your menu.
Think about what foods you want to serve and find their most convenient incarnations. Want to serve pastries? Consider ordering cream puffs that can be frozen ahead of time. Planning on providing a gourmet cheese plate? Sample slices from your favorite shop and ask for pairing recommendations now.
You can even stockpile party necessities like bottles of wine or cider in advance to make shopping for your party stress-free.
Work Out the Details
When planning your holiday party, don’t let anything slip through the cracks. Conventional party planning tips remind you of everything you need to do to create an amazing experience for your guests, but it’s important to take care of yourself as well.
To save yourself stress and ensure the you have a great time at your party as well, work out the details early. Buy or pick our your outfit well in advance and make sure it’s clean and wrinkle-free before the event. Tackle necessary cleaning tasks gradually to avoid wearing yourself out the night before.
Finally, make sure you find things to be excited about. Planning a party can be stressful, but it should feel worth it. Get pumped about your celebration.
Planning your holiday party doesn’t have to be a race against the clock. By using these party planning tips and starting your preparations early, you can host a great holiday celebration while still leaving time to enjoy the season.