The holiday season is packed with social events big and small. What makes some more memorable than others? The extra thought and special touches by the host or hostess.
My routine consists of visualizing, making my list, checking it twice, and of course checking it off. I start by creating a menu theme followed by a grocery list, then scheduling time to clean and prep the house days prior to the party. Planning helps me break down the to-do lists so I don’t feel overwhelmed. It also allows me time to focus on the details! After all, the holidays are very special, and it’s often the details that make all the difference.
Here are a few very simple ideas that can help step-up your seasonal party from ordinary to extraordinary.
First Impression: Flowers are Forever a Favorite
Each season ushers in a different color scheme to flower markets, and fall markets tend to be a little less colorful. Embrace rich, autumn-friendly shades like eggplant, crimson, sunflower yellow, or deep orange for Thanksgiving floral arrangements. Enhance your posies with accents such as berried branches, miniature pumpkins, or leafy greens. Your fall flowers will look great in a wooden or colorful glass vase, or you can use actual carved-out pumpkins as the base. Your guests will no doubt be impressed, and a beautiful flower arrangement (or two) can stand on its own as a centerpiece.
Conversation Hour: Charcuterie Boards are Easy
Hors d’oeuvres are nice, but a good charcuterie board is not only easy but quite impressive. Perfect options for filling up your board can be found at Trader Joe’s, including but not limited to: crackers, pretzels, cheeses, deli meats, nuts, and fruits. You can also visit Pinterest or search through hashtags on social media for great inspiration. While the main menu is important, nonchalant grazing on a variety of adult snacks helps everyone feel more at leisure, while leaving you less dirty dishes and more time to engage with your guests.
Main Course: Use Place Cards to Set Your Table with Intention
I’ve learned that adding a cute place card with a guest’s name on it makes them feel welcome, and it’s another small invitation signifying the party is for them. A place card can add a dash of fun or a sense of style, depending on what you’re shooting for with your tablescape.
Champagne Bar: A Great Way to Add Pizazz
A cocktail bar stands out as a key component for an unforgettable holiday party. Add an easy yet elegant touch to any holiday gathering by setting up a champagne bar. Simply chill a few bottles, place on a bar cart, and add bowls of fresh berries and carafes of fresh-squeezed juices. Include handwritten cardstock labels near each ingredient so your guests can mix and match to their hearts’ content. This no-fuss station encourages guests to make their own cocktails with ease, allowing you more time to enjoy the soiree.
A Gift They’ll Remember: Send Guests Home with a Little Something
Frozen cookie dough is a guest favorite. Just whip up your favorite batch of dough, wrap it tightly in parchment paper, and freeze. Add some holiday ribbons, a personalized paper label, and handwritten baking instructions. Recipients can slice and bake at their leisure and file away the recipe card. You can make the same batch for everyone, or perhaps prepare a few different kinds. I think of it as a sweet gift they’ll always remember!
Shawna Sabedra is an editorial assistant and freelance writer