How to host a festive DIY holiday party

The holiday season is warm; it is a shared moment between loved ones to open our hearts and doors to those around us. Celebrate the holidays together by hosting a party filled with food, drinks, presents and memories. Holiday parties do not have to be expensive. The décor, food and activities can be homemade with a variety of household supplies.

A holiday party can be something as simple as a hot cocoa party or as complex a four-course dinner party. No matter what type of party you plan to hold, this guide helps you create the ultimate DIY décor, food and activities!

The décor

The décor sets the tone for the party and invites the guests to enjoy the festivities. Create holiday décor with natural materials, glue, card stock, butcher paper, felt, glitter and many other household supplies. When creating the décor, consider the color theme of your party. For example, traditional autumn colors are red, yellow and orange, while winter colors are either red, green and white, or blue, silver and white. The remaining components of the party easily come together once decided on a color palette for the party.

Butcher paper menu

Display the food offered at the party on craft paper using a permanent pen. Hang up the menu on the front door kitchen to let guests know what’s being served during the party. If you are holding a potluck menu, hang a pen on a string for guests to write down their dish as they arrive. You can also create a menu board with stock paper that tells your guests about the festivities.

What You’ll Need:

  • Craft paper (you can get it from IKEA)
  • Permanent marker
  • String, if you’re allowing additions from guests

Giving thanks table runner

Allow you guests to demonstrate their appreciation with a craft paper table runner. Tape the craft paper underneath the table and roll it across the center of the table. Use a small glass jar to hold pens of various color in it for guests to write down their thoughts. For a Thanksgiving dinner, consider writing, “Giving Thanks” across the middle of the runner. On the other hand, for winter parties, consider writing “Happy Holidays,” “Merry Thoughts” or “Resolutions.”

What you’ll need:

  • Craft paper
  • Pens
  • Tape

The holiday centerpiece

Create an elegant centerpiece with outdoor materials. A natural centerpiece can be made from twigs, leaves and pinecones. Collect the materials and weave them together with floral wire to create a piece that neatly fits into a glass vase or bowl.

What you’ll need:

  • Twigs
  • Floral wire
  • Pine cones
  • Dried leaves
  • Glass vase or bowl

The invitation

Create handmade invitations using card stock, glue, scissors and a fine-tipped marker. For Thanksgiving parties, cut out invitations in the shape of leaves. Winter invitations could feature snowy trees, snowflakes, candy canes or presents. List the date, place, time and type of party you are throwing to help the guests prepare.
If you don’t want to make invitations with paper, use an e-invite. Online invitations allow you to choose a theme, insert pertinent details, upload your contact list and receive instant updates on RSVPs for the party.

The food

Holiday parties center around food. You can throw a traditional holiday meal or a DIY gingerbread house party for guests. Before sending out the invitations, decide whether you are having a dinner party. If not, then choose a central activity for the party. If so, then decide whether or not you are going to cook the entire meal, or if you are going to have a potluck-style dinner. If you are cooking the entire meal, be sure to serve two main dishes (traditional and vegan, if needed), a side, an appetizer, a dessert and a signature drink.

The potluck

A potluck requires trust in guests to bring a dish to accompany the main meal, cooked by you. As the host, you should provide the main drink, dish and side to ensure there is a meal available in the event that guests “forget” to bring their dish.

Ask guests to tell you what they are bringing in advance. Create an online form that lets guests select the dish they are bringing to the party.

If you’ve never cooked for guests before you can use websites such as Bon Appetit and Eating Well to help you pick recipes.

The activities

For parties not centered on dinner, activities are key. For example, set up a hot cocoa bar with different styles of chocolate, sprinkles, whipped cream and festive mugs for your guests to concoct their own velvety creations.

Other great non-dinner party ideas include:

  • Cookie decorating station
  •Christmas cookie exchange
  • Ornament decoration bar
  • Christmas gift exchange

Have plenty of supplies on hand to keeps guests busy and happy. Holiday parties can subsist without frills, but a small kick-start helps get everybody excited about the evening.