In the spirit of the season (and by the by, having way too many spirits at a party is maybe No. 1 on the “don’t” list), here are some holiday party do’s and don’ts … and a couple of why not’s!
DON’T mistake “festive attire” for “costume party.” That said, I do host an annual holiday open house wearing a variation on the Mrs. Claus attire — so if you’re hosting, that idea could be considered a WHY NOT?
DO go with a little black dress if you’re in doubt of what the wear. And if you’re wondering if that LTB — or any other dress for that matter — is too low cut, too short or too flashy, it probably is.
DON’T wear a T-shirt (this is for men, women or children). An Oxford or polo shirt is the way to go, and a holiday-themed tie is never a bad idea to pair with that Oxford.
DO arrive on time and DON’T be the last to leave.
DO arrive with a host/hostess gift, from a bottle of wine to a candle to an ornament or other holiday decor item.
DO make sure your “plus-one” is someone who you trust and who will feel comfortable (or comfortable enough) with a house-full of virtual strangers. Your date or guest is an extension of yourself.
DON’T leave your bathroom messy! Make sure the powder room is stocked and ready and hide any clutter in a closet or under the sink. Individual guest napkins in the powder room prevents yucky, overused guest towels.
DO make sure there is enough wine and champagne. The general rule of thumb is one bottle per two guests.
DO set the mood. Candles are the quickest and easiest way, and balsam-scented ones add to the holiday atmosphere.
DON’T skimp on the ice! One can never have enough ice cubes at a party, so load up the freezer beforehand.
WHY NOT invite your friends’ children? If the party is held in the afternoon, it’s easier to make it a family affair (and if your friends have younger kids, it’s harder to find a sitter in the afternoon on weekends, so … the more the merrier!) If you are hosting an evening party — particularly an open house — you may want to consider a kid-friendly invite as well.
DO create a music playlist that’s ready to begin as soon as the doorbell rings and doesn’t end until the last guest departs.
DON’T mis-match your napkins, plates, cups and other decor, i.e. a plate featuring a Santa face, napkins with mistletoe and cups decorated with Christmas trees. Keep to a color scheme and a theme.
DO introduce guests to one another; you never know how small a world it can be once strangers start talking!
DO serve any takeout food on your finest china.
DON’T assume all of your guests drink alcohol. Have fresh-squeezed juices and other delicious choices so you can mix a “mocktail” or two. Also stock up on soda and soda water, and get in a supply of juice boxes if young children are coming.
DO place small dishes of nuts on small tables and fruit-and-cheese plates on coffee tables.
WHY NOT perch some mistletoe every where you can?
DON’T forget to take lots of pictures. You will want these memories. In my family, we have a tradition of posing at each holiday party in front of the tree; it’s fun to see how the kids and I change and grow from year to year.
Whether you are a party guest or the greeter, DO slap a merry smile upon your face, and enjoy.