- Choose a Date/Location
Picking a date for your party is important before doing anything in my opinion because you want to give enough time to your guests and make sure any vendors you need are available. Some questions to start with are: are you having a party at home or renting a venue space? Try to plan at least a month or 6 weeks out and try to not interfere with any major holidays. I usually plan for the first two weeks of Nov. or Dec. so it doesn’t conflict with the holiday weeks.
- Create an Invite List
Once you have a date and location set, you’ll want to create a list of your besties to celebrate and gather with! I’m not new to planning holiday parties and I typically do events hosting my closest girlfriends because I like it to be a fun intimate time! So ask yourself do you want to invite couples or just have a ladies’ night! I like to keep the list small so typically it’s around 10 girls. Once you create a list you want to consider a budget for the party and if you’ll be getting help with buying items or hosting it completely.
- Save The Date/Invitations
Now, the fun begins! I love creating invitations to set the theme and vibe for the party! I recommend doing an e-vite or digital invitation because it’s easy and no need to waste paper! My 2 go-to invite apps are e-vite and Canva because it’s as simple as searching Thanksgiving Gathering or Christmas Party and you have access to tons of customizable templates that you can change the details to what you need.
- Food and Drinks
Now let us discuss what we all love, the food! One of my favorite things about planning Friendsgiving or Christmas Party is planning what food to eat! The holidays are the best time for comfort food! You want to ask yourself if you want to host all the food yourself, have a potluck or cater all the food for your guests. For Thanksgiving, I usually do a potluck so everything is made with love and delicious flavors some of the things we can’t go without are turkey, pork, rice, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes casserole, green bean casserole, fall salad, and additional sides. Maybe you want to have appetizers? This is a great opportunity to head over to Pinterest for creative and cute ideas you might not have thought of. Also, you cannot forget drinks and cocktails! Some of my favorites are spiked apple cider, fall sangria, hot chocolate, coquito (Puerto Rican cocktail), and other options as well. Now, the sweet part of the night! I’m a big pan of everything pumpkin so I love pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, apple pie is always a good choice or apple cobbler, yum!
Who doesn’t love fall or Christmas decorations? The colors, the candles, the garland, and so much more! I like to match the same theme of the invitation to the decorations of the party! I’ve always done a home party so the kitchen and living room is where I focus on decorating with lots of color and items to make the theme come together! When planning a Friendsgiving do you want to focus on lots of burnt orange and pumpkins or more of a greenery look with white pumpkins? I usually go to Pinterest for inspiration. Also, for Christmas, there is so many options such as red and white theme or a silver and gold theme, or all in Christmas with red and green! Some touches to add are candles, throw pillows, Some of my favorite stores to shop at are Marshalls, TJ-Maxx, Target, or Homegoods! So many good options and choices to make your home look cozy and festive! You can always have a fun backdrop or balloon arch for a fun photo spot for your guests to capture the moment!
You can’t forget the favors! I like to incorporate the favors with the theme as well! Usually, I’ll order gifts for my guests that they will love. Such as, cake pops, custom cookies, and I’ve always ordered mini plastic pumpkins from Amazon to write what they’re thankful for as memory and remember the season of being grateful! Last year, I surprised my friends with pumpkin pie tres leche desserts to go, they weren’t expecting it but they loved it! You can even purchase to-go containers from TJ Maxx or Marshalls so you don’t have to go searching for tupperware and more of a personal touch when taking leftovers home!
You can’t have a party without games! I love incorporating icebreaker games and fun interactive activities for my guests to engage and connect with! Conversation cards, Thanksgiving Bingo, and Antler Ring Toss. I’ve even purchased cute gifts as a prize for the winners which is a sweet touch that your guests won’t be expecting! Here are a few free games and trivia I found on Pinterest: Thanksgiving Word Search, Thankful ABC Game, and Thanksgiving Would You Rather Game.
- Custom Music Playlist
Yesssss, let’s talk music! How awkward is it to host a gathering or party with awkward silences? I’ve done that a few times LOL I like to prepare a custom playlist to set the tone of the party! If you’re hosting a private event then you might want to consider booking a DJ!
Who throws a party without capturing the moment? Not me LOL I always take pictures of the decorations and set up before the guest show up and then throughout the party! If you’re not the one to usually take pictures then delegate to your friend who’s the best photo taker in the group! Trust me, I’ve had friends host parties and completely forget to take pictures and regret it after! I love incorporating photo props to create #instgramworthy pictures. For Thanksgiving, I’ve ordered Thanksgiving Plush Turkey Hats from amazon and a Thanksgiving photo frame! If you hosting at a venue or larger group, you might want to book a photographer!
- Create a space for hospitality
Friends, this is the most important and one I had to recently process and change my understanding of what hospitality looks like. For some, it looks like extravagant planning and decorations and making sure everything looks perfect! I’m definitely guilty of this and especially since I love hosting events, I want everything to look how I’ve imagined! I’ve learned to be more mindful of serving my guests and having a welcoming heart for hospitality and creating a space where genuine fellowship will take place and not just trying to impress them with a fancy party!