November 9, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom: Top 10 Holiday Party Planning Tips


Hi all!  Today I am thrilled to announce our guest blogger, Mara Marian-Harwood, who you may know as the creative tour de force behind Events by LMG.  I always love the events and styling tips that Mara has and what she has shared with us today is no exception!  Each tip is excellent and will definitely help any hostess or host with their holiday party!  Take a look!

Top 10 Holiday Party Planning Tips | Mara Marian-Harwood, Events by LMG

1. Steer Clear of Your Kitchen I love to cook and bake, preparing food for my friends and family is something I truly enjoy. I almost never give up my kitchen to anyone else, except when I am entertaining a large group in my home. It’s an entirely different challenge to prepare dinner and hors d’oeuvres for a few guests than to prepare food and hors d’oeuvres for a large group. It’s impossible to act the part of a gracious hostess if you’re busy watching platters and refilling confections. Allow a catering team to handle the food for you, so you can enjoy the food- and the party! Don’t forget that hostess is your role at your holiday party, to greet and entertain guests.

2. How to be a Hostess The part of a great hostess begins before the party starts. Balance your guest list with couples and single folks. Don’t make a big deal of the single guests, going out of your way to introduce every single person who crosses your path to another makes for particularly awkward exchanges. Single adults will find one another, without your assistance. Be sure to create a fun and comfortable environment that promotes mingling and the rest will take care of itself.

3. No Wallflower Zone The right music, décor and lighting paired with great food and drinks will make for a fun and festive environment. Don’t make the mistake of putting the food right next to the bar. Be sure to split these areas up to keep guests moving. If your home is large enough, multiple bars and food stations are ideal.

4. Some Like it Hot! Be sure to offer a variety of beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. A hot beverage bar is a great interactive-entertainment option for guests, separate from a traditional cocktail bar.  Hot spiced-cider, warm cocoa and hot toddies can all be dressed by guests. Be sure to work with your caterer to get a great selection of colored sugars, cinnamon sticks, marshmallows and peppermint sticks for your guests to add to their drinks. Specialty glassware and mugs can be rented locally to make each of these beverages feel special.

5. Use Candles Sans-Scent Avoid the urge to stock up on and burn scented holiday candles. Solid in abundance at this time of year, cinnamon, peppermint and pine-scented candles can be a tempting choice. Remember that your guests will all arrive wearing perfume and cologne. In addition to your delicious menu, there is no room for more scents. Allow the aroma of the food and beverages to set the mood rather than an artificial candle. (Don’t skip candles altogether though! Just be sure not to place candles in areas where clothes or hair could catch fire, up and out of the way is best).

6. Channel Your Inner Supermodel Since you won’t be busy slaving away in your hot kitchen, be sure to spend time getting festive with your ensemble. The holidays are the time to add a little sparkle. Whether it’s a sequined frock or a pearly eyeliner, get into the holiday sprit.

7. Get Glass Be sure to have lots of bottled water on hand for your party. For any formal engagement, I suggest glass bottles. A glass water bottle feels upscale and pretty. My favorites are Pellegrino for a fizzy option, and Aqua Pana for water sans bubbles. Having the water readily available around the party will keep it accessible for your drinking guests who will thank you tomorrow.

8. Bathroom and Boudoir Your guests will inevitably use your restrooms and poke around your home. Decorate with fresh florals in every space, bathrooms included. Work with a florist to offer beautiful seasonal-appropriate arrangements  other than the standard grocery-store poinsettia.

9. Coat Check Simply planning to stack coats in a bedroom isn’t a good coat-check plan. Some guests will uncomfortable with this and will carry their belongings around all night, not conducive to a fun party. If you’re not working with a professional planner, ask your caterer for recommendations on staffing for this service. Your caterer may even offer the service.

10. Parking Predicament Consider where your guests will park based on the number of cars you’re expecting to need to accommodate. If your neighborhood has lots of street parking options, it’s a nice gesture to let neighbors know that you’ll be having a party so they can expect the increase in cars on your street that evening. It’s amazing how a simple heads up will make your otherwise easily irritated neighbor feel like they were a part of the decision. Problem solved! A professional valet-service is also a surprisingly cost-effective solution to parking dilemmas.

Thank you so much Mara!  These ideas are FABULOUS!  I hope they make all of your holiday party planning a breeze - and if you'd like the professional planning services of Mara and her team, go to!  Happy planning!

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Photo Credit: Used courtesy of  Events by LMG, photographed by Chudleigh Weddings

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