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Expert tips on planning a perfect Christmas party

Are you hosting a Christmas party this year? Whether you are planning a party at your home or another venue, follow these tips from celebrity party planners and other experts to create a perfect Christmas party.

Christmas beerHoliday party ideas

Los Angeles and New York-based event designer, author and party planner extraordinaire, Jes Gordon, has spent the last 20+ years producing the most exquisite events –- from exclusive A-list parties to fantasy weddings to corporate soirees. Gordon offers these party ideas for the holiday season.

Have a hot chocolate bar – Rock out a hot chocolate bar with oversized marshmallows and candy toppings or make some fun fondue stations around your cocktail hour to get the conversation started

Choose beer over wine – Instead of wine and food pairings for holiday dinners, do some fun beer and food pairings from all over the world.

Create unique decorations – Make trees out of interesting items other than normal Christmas trees with normal ornaments. For example, make a cupcake tree, and have ornaments made completely out of tin foil origami or other cool eco chic papers like brown gift paper or newspaper.

Holiday party planning

Caroline Covelli, wedding consultant and co-owner of Two Little Birds Planning provides these Christmas party planning tips.

  1. Send your invitations out early, at least a month in advance. The holidays get busy and it’s better to have your party on everyone’s calendar as soon as you start the planning.
  2. Create a budget. Nobody likes a surprise when checking out at the grocery store. A little planning will go a long way.
  3. If you are preparing the food, create a menu and timeline for when you need to shop, prepare and cook everything so you can be 100% ready. Prepare as much as you can in the days leading up to the party.
  4. Preparing in advance also includes planning the serving dishes. To make sure you have enough and the right size serving dishes, put them all out on your dining room table and decide which dish will go on which plate using sticky notes.
  5. Plan your outfit in ahead of time. The day of the event can be hectic, no matter how much you prepare and plan. Everyone wants to look their best, but getting ready time can be minimal so have your party look, including accessories, laid out and ready to go. Try it all on a week before to make sure you love it and everything works.
  6. Use unexpected items in your décor. Think a vase filled with cranberries or ball ornaments.

Holiday party food

Ellen Harte, special events planner for award-winning Tasty Catering (a Chicago-based catering and events planning company), offers these tips for holiday party food.

  1. Cuisine for parties needs to be tied to demographics. This includes cultural considerations, food allergies and pleasing eating types such as vegetarians. It is also important to make sure there are some non-seafood items available.
  2. Menu selection should take under consideration time of day or when the event is to be held (i.e. for an executive business lunch, lay off the carbohydrates to reduce post meal napping).
  3. Food can be sentimental. So, think about how what’s served may be able to create an emotional bond. “My Aunt loves chocolate covered strawberries — can we have those as a special treat?” Adding nostalgic elements to the menu can also be a fun and creative endeavor.
  4. Hire outside experts to manage the party. You can go with one company that “does it all” or hire more than one for a particular specialty. Tasty Catering, for example, has at least 15 industry consultants to tap into for everything from entertainment to decorations.

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