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How to Plan a Holiday Party in 10 Easy Steps

December 04, 2023 | Written by: Meg Breithaupt

It’s beginning to look a lot like...the holidays! The months of November, December, and January are the most popular times for events: from family to friends to employers, everyone wants to celebrate the holidays. And what better way to celebrate than a holiday party! If you’ve found yourself planning a party, our goal is to help your party planning go smoothly. With our 10-step guide, we’ll guide you through key components, like date, location, budget, invitations, decorations, RSVPs, menu, and more.

1. Choose a date

The first step in holiday party planning is to choose a date and a time. This is especially tricky during the holiday season because people have many demands on their time: family gatherings, end-of-year celebrations, annual get-togethers, etc. When choosing a date for your event, consider:

  • Day of the week
  • Time of day
  • Competing events

Both the day of the week and the time of day can significantly impact the number of people able to attend. If you’re throwing a company holiday party, consider hosting it during the workday, as your employees may have commitments outside of office hours. If you’re throwing a party for family and friends, consider hosting any travel time from work or school. If other events are occurring on the same day as yours, you may not get the turnout you hoped for. Once you’ve chosen your party date, get it on the calendar as soon as possible!

2. Set a budget

The next thing to do is to set a budget. Your budget will determine several things: the number of people to invite, what type of food to provide, what entertainment to hire, and what venue to choose. Some of the most common expenses for holiday parties are:

  • Food
  • Alcohol
  • Venue
  • Entertainment
  • Decor

When creating your budget, you set a per person or an overall amount -- whichever works better for you! If you set an overall budget, allocate specific amounts to the largest expenses and set a general amount for all other expenses.

3. Find a venue

After you choose a date and time and set your budget, the next step is to find a venue for your holiday party. The venue you choose is dependent upon how many people you plan to invite, as well as time of day and budget. Intimate events with smaller guest lists are perfect for house parties, while larger events can be hosted at:

  • Hotels
  • Event centers
  • Community spaces

Before you choose your holiday party’s venue, consider the ease of access via car or public transportation, the maximum capacity of the venue, and the cost of the venue.

4. Choose a festive theme

Once you’ve found a venue, the next step in your party planning is to choose a theme. Some festive themes are:

  • Winter Wonderland
  • Pajama Party
  • Christmas Around the World
  • Festive Fiesta
  • Cookie Swap

When choosing a theme, consider how to incorporate the theme into all aspects of the event: invitations, food, decorations, food and beverage, music, etc. It can be easy to do this in cost-effective ways! If you don’t have the budget for a band or dj, then create a playlist of holiday favorites or winter-themed music. Enhance seasonal food and beverage offerings with festive tablewares and colored tablecloths.

5. Send out invitations

Once you’ve chosen your theme, the next step is to send invitations. Invitations are the only way to let people know about your event details, like:

  • Date and time
  • Location
  • How and when to RSVP

The great thing is that invitations can be casual or formal. If your Winter Wonderland event is black tie optional, mailing an invitation and including a paper reply card would stand out. If you’re throwing a casual Pajama Party, try creating a virtual invitation to collect RSVPs. If you’re hosting a winter open house, create printed or digital flyers to welcome guests into your home.

6. Plan a menu

Once you’ve sent out invitations to your holiday party, the next step is to plan a menu. Some things to consider when planning your menu are:

  • Number of guests
  • Time of day
  • Budget

If you have a caterer, they will provide suggestions based on the number of people you expect as well as seasonal offerings. If you don’t have a caterer, a great rule of thumb is 5-7 appetizers or small bites per person for a cocktail party or 6-8 different types of food for a buffet. Your menu is another great way to incorporate and enhance the theme of your event: wouldn’t it be fun to offer a Candy Cane Martini or Cranberry-Orange Sparkler as your guests arrive?

7. Plan entertainment

The seventh step in planning a holiday party is to plan entertainment. The type of entertainment you choose will vary based upon the theme of your event, the number of guests, if your party is for adults or children, etc. A few classic ideas for holiday entertainment are:

  • Tree trimming
  • Decorating gingerbread houses
  • Holiday movie screening
  • White Elephant gift exchange
  • Festive band

Before finalizing your entertainment, think about when you want it during the event. Should the activity be ongoing and allow guests to pop in or should there be a specific time when everyone can participate as a group? Would passive entertainment, like a band, or active entertainment, like an activity, provide your guests the best party experience?

8. Find decorations

The next step in holiday party planning is to find decorations. The great thing about decorating for a holiday party is that you can often borrow or rent decorations like:

  • Christmas trees
  • White twinkle lights
  • Seasonal tablewares

Decorations are the perfect way to express your holiday party’s theme. If you are hosting a Winter Wonderland party, then consider a blue, silver, and white color scheme. You could have white lights wrapped around a line of birch trees for a grand entrance. If your theme is Christmas Around the World, then use country flags and appropriate decor to represent each country’s holiday traditions.

9. Choose party favors

Next, choose party favors to thank your guests for attending or to provide a memento of your holiday party. Favors can be edible or inedible, expensive or inexpensive, ornate or simple. When choosing a favor, consider your:,

  • Event theme
  • Number of guests
  • Budget
  • Makeup of guests (ie: adults vs. children, older vs. younger)
  • Complexity

Handpainted ornaments or knitted mittens are an incredibly thoughtful favor; however, if you have a large guest list, it’s likely impractical to make favors for everyone attending. Also, breakable or expensive items are not ideal for a party with mostly children.

10. Collect RSVPs

The final step (before hosting your event, of course!) is collecting RSVPs. These days, many event coordinators or party planners are eliminating paper reply cards and collecting RSVPs by phone or online. Collecting replies online is an eco-friendly and low budget option. Many people are also choosing to create an event website to share important information, like:

  • Directions
  • Timeline
  • Dress code

Two weeks before your party, consider following up with anyone who hasn’t responded. As we know, the holidays are an extremely busy time of year and sometimes things fall through the cracks. Likely, your invitee will appreciate the reminder! For those attending your event, sending a reminder 1-2 days before the event is a great way to confirm that their plans haven’t changed in some way and will allow you to finalize and confirm your guest list.


We hope that with our 10 steps to planning a holiday party, plus our all-in-one event website and online registration, you can turn what might be an overwhelming process into a fun experience. EventCreate makes it easy to create a beautiful, professional-looking event website in minutes using our easy-to-use website builder. Get started by choosing one of our event website themes, each handcrafted by our award-winning design team. No coding skills are required and no server setup is needed.

EventCreate gives you the power to fully customize your event reply process. Sell tickets, accept credit cards, and customize your reply form with unlimited custom questions.

Invite attendees to your event with beautifully simple and fully customizable email invitations. EventCreate's invite system comes pre-built with a host of features including delivery tracking, bulk list upload, and scheduled reminders.

Interested in learning more? Schedule a Demo today.

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