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Everyone (me!) loves a great holiday party and they can be done inexpensively or lavishly – check your wallet and take your pick. But not all parties end up being filled with fun and games. There are a few do’s and don’ts that can make your party one that’s talked about well into the New Year – and in a good way!
Do send out invitations and request an RSVP a few weeks in advance of the big day so you can prepare and people can pencil it in. Be prepared to have to grin and bear it as you call non-responders to see if they can make it. Be friendly but don’t apologize for the call; they should be embarrassed for not sending a quick email to let you know if they can attend! Allow everyone to bring a date if they wish. If they ask if they know anyone coming, be sure to tell them. People like to know if they'll have familiar faces to chat with.
Do stick to your budget but do not ask guests to bring a dish. Holiday parties are not company potluck lunches. If you are going to host, then host. If you can manage baking your own goodies then go ahead, otherwise head to places like Costco that have bulk offerings (and delicious foods) at a good price. Wines and spirits are an expensive addition. If people are kind enough to ask if they can bring anything (and many will), suggest they may like to bring a bottle of wine or beverage of their choice. Since it’s nice to bring the host a gift anyway, this can combine as a gift and a great way to cut your own cost. Otherwise have both alcohol and soft drinks for your guests (based on religious or cultural preferences).
Keeping food to hors d'œuvres is just fine. Everyone loves a wide range of goodies to eat, both savory and sweet. This makes things easier for the host and Christmas parties don’t need to include a sit down meal unless the number is very small (under eight people) and you feel up to it. Make sure your party states what will be offered. Our recent holiday party was a festive “cocktails and hors d'œuvres” night so people knew to come hungry but not to expect a five course extravaganza. Take note of allergies or diet preferences so everyone has something good to eat.