December 16, 2011

Holiday Gatherings!

Posted in Other Events, Planning Tips and Information tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:49 pm by JBEvents

It’s that time of year when we open our homes to family and friends to celebrate the Holiday season.  Whether you decide to have an elaborate soiree or a more intimate gathering, we have a few ideas to help with your celebration.


As with any party, the first thing you must do is to set the date and time of the event.  With so many parties at this time of year, it may be a good idea to check with your group of friends to see if your proposed date is open on their social calendar prior to moving forward with your plans.

Once the date has been set and your guest list determined, send out invitations as far in advance as possible.  Be sure to indicate any specific information such as details on parking so that your guests can be prepared ahead of time.

Now comes the decision-making process on what you will serve for your party.  If you are desiring to have a fun and festive gathering where your guests can mingle and come and go as they please, a cocktail party is your best bet.  This can also be the most cost-effective type of party since guests will not expect to be served a full meal.  You must however, keep this in mind when setting the timeframe for your party.  My favorite is a Drop-In Cocktail Party.  This allows for a variety of hor d’oeuvres to be served which can range from simple items such as a cheese, fruit and or vegetable display where guests can serve themself,  as well as more elaborate options  that are perfect to be passed.

If you will be preparing the food items yourself, start the process early so that you can prep as much as possible ahead of time leaving you to not be as rushed on the day of the event.  Make sure that you have all of your serving pieces out, cleaned and labeled with how they will be used.  This makes the placing of the items on the party day easier so that you will know where every item will be placed and what serving piece will be used.

Of course, you can decide to take the easier approach which is to purchase your party food from your favorite caterer.  At this time of year, many of the local caterers have a special party-to-go menus that you can  pick-up and then take home with minimal set-up or preparation. 

It is advisable to purchase bags of ice and store them in coolers for use in keeping items chilled before serving if refrigerator/freezer space is limited.  You will also need to make certain to have enough ice to sustain the duration of the party for all beverages.

Speaking of beverages, make sure that you provide a variety of alcoholic and  non-alcoholic options.  To keep things festive, I am in love with seasonal varieties such as a Gingerbread or Candy Cane Martini’s.  Another wonderful option which can be served hot or cold is Wassail (hot/cold mulled cider).

In addition to making sure you have all of the food prepared and beverages ready, don’t forget to take one last look in each powder room to make certain that you have the essential necessary items in abundance.  It is my recommendation to hire someone to act as a Restroom attendant during the party so that they can maintain the supplies and cleanliness of the powder rooms.

Speaking of hiring people, it’s also a good idea to hire staff to act as servers and bartenders.  This will allow you to actually enjoy your own party and mingle with your guests.  There are agencies that specialize in providing banquet servers and bar tenders, or you may decide to contact a local college or technical school in your area that offers a culinary program to see if they have students interested in making a little extra Holiday money by working as a server for your party. 

One touch that I think is a necessity is tons of candles.  I personally like scented candles – however, you don’t want to overload the senses with various scents, so select one or two complimenting scents to have placed around your home and use other fragrance-free candles to supplement the supply.

Setting the ambiance.  Whether you decide to have your home stereo system playing,  or you arrange for a group of Carolers, or hire an acoustic guitar player or pianist or even a DJ, keep in mind that the music should be background in nature and not so loud that guests can’t carry on a conversation.

It’s also advisable that you have a designated place for coats and ladies purses to be placed.  One such idea is to empty your coat closet and have hangers available for wraps and the bottom of the closet clear and available for bags.  If this is not possible, set aside one room, perhaps the master bedroom, that will not be used for the party to store your guests personal items.

One of the most important things is to make sure that you are ready to receive guests at the start of the party.  Nothing is worse than having guests arrive and things are in a disarray as it makes the guests feel uncomfortable.

You have checked your list, not once but twice and know that everything is set and ready.  Take a deep breath, and be ready to greet each guest as they arrive.  Have a tray of beverages offered upon their arrival and then have a fabulous party.

All of us at Janice Blackmon Events wish you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Feliz Navidad, or whatever other holiday you celebrate as well as a Happy and Healthy New Year!!!


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