My friend Kristin has been hosting a wonderful, crazy Girlfriends Christmas Party for several years with thirty of the most interesting women that love to party. This year she suggested that I host the party so everyone could see my new house.
I also thought we could turn it into a charity party for the Families of Sandy Hook. They had asked folks to do some charitable act in their communities in the memory of their lost children. We asked each guest to bring can goods to be donated to the Rescue Mission.
My job, decorate the house and set up the bar. My two favorite tasks! Everyone brings an appetizer to share, a bottle of wine and a $15 gift for the wild and crazy gift exchange.
Kristin and Mary arrive early to set up the food on my center island and give me a hand with last minute tasks and candle lighting. I set up a basket on the terrace for the can goods.
Three exuberant hours with good friends and lots of warm holiday wishes and hugs, the party was a great success. The next day I took our two baskets of can goods to the Mission where they were gratefully received. They feed over a 1,000 people on Christmas Day.
Tips for Planning the Perfect Party
- Pick a date that’s at least 3 weeks out. Check school and community calendars for any conflicting events. During football season always check the game schedule!
- Pick the venue, inside or out. Check the weather schedule if you are planning an outside event and be prepared to move inside if necessary. I’ve thrown many a “garage party” on rainy afternoons but it requires a clean, organize garage.
- Guests lists are the spice for the party. It’s the perfect opportunity to introduce new friends to old ones. Be practical about how many guests your home or event can handle. Always send invitations, written or online, with an RSVP request.
- Don’t try to do it all yourself. When someone asks if there is anything they can bring always say YES, an appetizer, salad or a bottle of wine. You know better than to ask your friend that is always late, to bring an appetizer right?
- Start preparing your home the weekend before. This gives you plenty of time to rearrange furniture, have the carpets cleaned, spruce up the back yard, find and clean ice coolers or other details that will make your house more inviting.
- Set up the bar and make it a self serve, prepare the food table, set up trash cans or trays for used dishes and glasses, clean the guest bathroom, make room in your refrigerator and tidy up the kitchen, after you have prepared any food that can be done ahead of time. Get your nails done and pick out your party clothes!
- Start early. Run any last minute errands. Don’t forget the ice. Finish any food or drink prep. I like to serve a signature cocktail that can be made ahead of time and served from a pitcher. You can greet your guests with a lovely cocktail and invite them to help themselves to the bar.
- Finish an Hour before the party. Allow yourself a full hour to get dressed and time to enjoy a cocktail, light the candles and put out the ice before the guests arrive. Then when the early or right on time guests arrive you’ll be ready to party!