With Thanksgiving over and the year coming to an end, there are a finite amount of weekends left to throw holiday parties—but fear not!  Follow these steps and tips to make sure you throw a great party this holiday.

The first step in throwing a great holiday party is planning the theme. A holiday party could range from just a simple get-together to a formal cocktail party. Some ideas for a party theme include a Holiday Movie Marathon, Ugly Sweater Party, Pet Party, Holiday Potluck, Snowball War, or even a Reverse Christmas Party in July. Once you’ve chosen a theme, you’ll want to make an invite list with guests who will get along, and send out party invitations.

Next, plan activities ahead of time. The party theme might already designate a certain activity such as watching movies or snowball fights, but there are many classic ideas for get-togethers. Some activity ideas include baking cookies, secret Santa, tree decorating, white elephant, gingerbread house decorating, and a plethora of other ideas.

In addition to activities, it’s a good idea to plan out appetizers and drinks. Some classic holiday foods include gingerbread, peppermint bark, figgy pudding, fruitcake, candy canes and pie. But, you can never go wrong with a vegetable platter and an assortment of various chips and dip. Also, some classic holiday drinks are eggnog and hot cocoa. If you’re a broke college student, it might be a good idea to ask each of your guests to bring an appetizer and refreshment so that you won’t have to pay for everything.

As the day of the party approaches, it is important to set the mood for the event. Although you don’t have to redecorate your entire house, you should at least clean up. You can enhance the coziness of the season by lighting a fireplace if you have one. If not, a few scented candles will add a warm glow as well as a pleasant fragrance to your party. A nice holiday music playlist can make your home more welcoming and will fill any awkward silences during the event.

When your guests arrive, great each one warmly and individually. Introduce any new guests to those who have already arrived and provide a topic that your guests can use to get to know each other. Keep in mind that it is completely fine to break away from a conversation to answer the door.

During the party, it is important to keep the food and drinks filled and to keep the conversation amiable and engaging. An article from the Esquire Etiquette explains, “The perfect host takes it upon himself to protect his guests from boredom, loneliness, and from left-out-ness. By a kind of musical chairs, he shuffles the assembled guests into new conversations whenever it seems necessary.”

At the end of your party, be sure to say goodnight to each guest and see them to the door. Make sure your guests have all of their belongings before they go through the door. If one of your guests has had too many drinks, call them a cab or invite them to stay the night.

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