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How to host a holiday open house party

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Open your home for the holidays

Open house parties are perfect for the holiday season because many people are so busy that they might not be able to attend a traditional party with set hours. A holiday open house allows guests to come and go over several hours throughout the day or evening.

Holiday open house

1Start planning early

Set a date for your holiday open house well in advance and send out invitations to your guests several weeks before the party date. You can use e-vites rather than traditional paper invitations. Generally an open house should last about six hours to allow your guests plenty of time to drop by.

2Keep it casual

To make it easier on yourself (and your guests), keep the atmosphere casual. An open house should be an informal party that allows the host and/or hostess the opportunity to celebrate with family, friends and neighbors in a relaxed atmosphere. Set the mood with festive holiday music and decorations. Use the decorations that you already have, rather than splurging on expensive new ones. Sparkling Christmas lights, wreaths and poinsettias will go a long way.

3Plan your party food

Finger foods eliminate the need for utensils and dinnerware. Prepare (or cater) plenty of make-ahead dishes that will last through the course of the party such as appetizers, cookies and candies. By keeping your menu simple, you can spend more time with your party guests.

Check out SheKnows Cookbooks: Holiday party planning guide >>

4Accommodate the kids

If you want your holiday party guests to be able to mingle and enjoy themselves without having to watch their kids, set up a "kids only" area and hire a few teenagers to look after the younger children. Provide board games, toys, video games and other age appropriate activities for the kids. Serve chicken nuggets or pizza, along with cookies and punch.

5Make cleanup easy

People love to host parties but hate the cleanup. Make your open house party cleanup easy by staying organized. Guests will throw away their own trash, if you have clearly marked bins. Place several receptacles throughout the party area (both indoors and out) for trash and recycling. Before the party, cover your tables (including coffee tables) with tablecloths to reduce unsightly cup rings on your wooden surfaces and make cleanup easy. After the party is over, clean up any obvious spills on the carpet or furniture, place leftovers in the refrigerator, run the dishwasher and save the major cleaning for the next day.

Holiday hostess tips

Holiday party etiquette: Should your guests help cook and clean?
How to prepare perfect roast turkey
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