One of my favorite things to do is to plan parties.  During this time of year, I host the annual "Griswald" Christmas party which is always a blast.

As I prepare for the evening, it occurs to me that perhaps I can provide some party planning ideas for those of you that are challenged in this department.

So here we go:  (Feel free to ask questions in comments)

The first thing I do is set a date.  I never ask people which date works best for them because, I'd end up trying to make accommodations everyone based on when they are available and end up never setting a date.  So pick a date that works best for you and your family.

The second item to do is to decide on a theme.  I have the same theme (Controlled Chaos) every year.  We have a dirty gift swap (steal the gift thing), lots of appetizers, wine and other beverages and a special "improv" game that I surprise guests with.

Another portion of the theme is food.  One year it was Chinese, which is easy and inexpensive, another it was BBQ, yet another European.  This year it will be appetizer-mania, so when I confirm with the guests and they ask what to bring I am prepared with an answer.  "An appetizer dish or a bottle of wine!"

The third thing to do is invite the peeps.  I start with an e-vite at then I follow up with reminders and phone calls.  Remind them to bring a fun gift for the gift exchange.

Good Pointers:

     I always have extra inexpensive gifts for the exchange so that everyone can play.

     Don't over clean your house to the point that it looks sterile, your guests will be too busy worrying about messing it up to relax and have fun.  Southern living homes can stay in the magazine!

     Someone has to be the MC, the person that announces starts of games and controls the drawing etc.  I am a control freak, so I do this at my party.

      Give your guests duties, they will love it!  I ask my guests to assist with the food.  (They will ask you. "What can I do to help." so say the following.  "If you don't mind, can you please keep an eye on the food and beverages just to make sure everything is stocked for me?"  Give that assignment to two or three and they'll be glad to have an assignment.  Others I ask to keep an eye to ensure coats and purses are stashed on my bed or another high surface so my stupid chihuahuas won't pee on them.

     Oh yeah last but not least.  Shop, wrap, straighten up, set up and finish what can be cooked ahead, Get as much done by the day before the party. On the day of the party all you do is reheat food, place plates, utensils, ice buckets, etc, NOTHING ELSE!  You do not want to be too tired to have fun.

So now go forth and do what Hildie says.  Make a list, set a schedule and have a blast!

Merry Christmas!!

Visit my blog if you get a chance, I'm going to be starting a great series' on party planning! So come over and "follow" and "Subscribe"!

Cheers my friends!


  1. Nightingale // December 21, 2011 at 9:40 AM  

    I already hosted my holiday party but I wish I'd had this list to go by! Thanks Hildie.

  2. Hildie McQueen // December 21, 2011 at 9:46 AM  

    I'm sure it was great Nightingale

  3. Scarlet Pumpernickel // December 21, 2011 at 12:55 PM  

    Hildie, thanks for sharing! Our family get together will be late Christmas day, so I'll be able to incorporate you suggestions. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hildie McQueen // December 21, 2011 at 1:10 PM  

    Awesome Scarlet! Merry Christmas, have fun ya'll!

  5. Pamela Varnado // December 21, 2011 at 3:25 PM  

    Love the tips, Hildie. I have a week long party happening in my home. My sister and her family are visiting from Virginia for the holidays. They don't stress me out too much. Nothing like the in-laws. I try to keep lots of appetizers on hand to munch on. And lots of wine. I discovered Moscato this year. I’m not really a drinker. But oh, do I love it! It's like candy in a wine glass.

  6. Mary Marvella // December 21, 2011 at 3:51 PM  

    Wow, I wanna come! Great suggestions, almost make me want to have a party.

  7. Mary Ricksen // December 22, 2011 at 1:31 PM  

    I have such a small home, I hate to entertain there. I like going out to have a party at a nice restaurant or something. Smaller parties that way, but a lot easier!
    But if my home was larger I'd be using your tips.

  8. Josie // December 23, 2011 at 1:34 PM  

    Griswald is a fun idea, Hildie. And, your tips save a lot of work. Great idea.

  9. Beth Trissel // December 23, 2011 at 2:28 PM  

    Wonderful suggestions Hildie. I love your little peeing dogs and totally get that challenge.