How to Host an Easy Holiday Party That Brings People Together


It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not the first day of school after summer break. It’s the Holiday Season! You will probably attend a party or two, but how about hosting one? Hosting a party is a wonderful way to connect with your circle of friends and family. It’s also the best way, in my opinion, to grow your community in a new city or neighborhood.

Why I Love Hosting Parties

When you move to a new city or make a major life transition like getting married and having a child, it is important to build a community that is supportive. One of my favorite ways to build community is to host a gathering. My husband and I moved to DC in mid-2008 with our infant daughter and we were fortunate to connect with a few great families. Meeting those families was just what we needed, and we had a holiday party to bring everyone together. We kept it simple that year with just food, drinks and Christmas music. It was wonderful and really helped my small family feel connected to DC. I now have a wonderful community of folks with whom I love entertaining. I’ve also been blessed with a few friends who are expert hostesses who have taught me a thing or two about entertaining.

What Kind of Party Host Are You?

Figure out what makes you comfortable while hosting and be sure to honor it. Your thing may be an impeccably clean home, lots of fun foods or well-planned games. For others, it may be taking the time to layer on the party decor or create the perfect playlists. I need a tidy house and great music. Know what will give you a peaceful, clear mind during the party so that you can enjoy yourself.

Gem drop: Also know when to give in to the crazy. There may be spills and tumbles, but that’s life. Laugh or give cuddles and proceed!

Now, Get Ready to Host a Party!

  1. Take Inventory: Make a list of what you have and need and want and use it when shopping. Hosting a party is the perfect the time to pull out all of those pretty table runners, cupcake trees and serving utensils you splurged on at your favorite home store. Check the guest count to prepare for purchasing paper goods and cutlery, or go green and use dishes. 
  2. Clean: Tidy up a few days before the party to prevent waking up the morning of with a crazy house. Put away toys with small pieces to prevent accidents with younger children. Put away appliances to clear counters. Make sure you provide a place for coats, ’cause baby it’s cold outside! Gem Drop: Begin every party with an empty dishwasher and empty trash cans for easy cleanup. All housework is cardio so strap on the baby and get to work!
  3. Decorate: Holiday decorations are usually up early for the season. For a quick centerpiece add twinkly lights to a vase with garland and tree/bush cuttings. On the day of, I enjoy lighting candles everywhere the children can’t reach. You can mix pillar candles with tea lights and scented candles for a festive vibe.
  4. Accept Help!: My husband is Superman when we are hosting a party, and I also like having a friend close by to help. Don’t be shy about asking. We all need help. Invite that helpful friend over the evening before or morning of; pour her a glass of something good and catch-up while you prepare.

Stress-Free Party Eats and Drinks

  • Eats: Unless you’re having a sit-down dinner party, skip the complicated menu. Prepare a main dish or two and lots of quick bites. One of my fun fabulous friends had a grazing table at her birthday party. Her beautiful cake was flanked by lots of sweet and savory bites. Brilliant! Consider a charcuterie board and interesting minis like quiche or mini soup cups. Keep it tasty and easy to replenish. I like to dot sitting areas with bowls of popcorn and dried fruit. Kids love this! Gem drop: Buy or make a few extra small bites. You may not buy salmon to feed everyone for three hours, but having extra hummus and veggies is great!
  • Drinks: Choose a signature drink and open up a few bottles for self-serving for adults. It’s nice to have a signature drink for the children too, but I’ve never met a child who didn’t like a good juice box! Fill large pitchers with ice water. This prevents you from having half-empty water bottles littering your house and reduces your carbon footprint. 

Kids Corner

Don’t forget about the kiddos! Take out a few fun games and toys for young guests. Coloring books and fun crafts are great for entertaining, and I like to have an area for cupcake or cookie decorating, and beading.

Gem drop: Make sure to put away toys with small pieces or parts to prevent accidents. I also encourage my children to stow away their most treasured and delicate toys. This prevents meltdowns from broken toys and bickering.

Alright Mamas! These are my tips and gems for happy hosting. Now pour a glass of bubbly and party on!

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Shaniece is a California girl living in DC. She discovered DC in 1995 when she came to study theater arts at Howard University and left DC for New York in 2000. Fast forward to 2008, she excitedly moved back to DC with her husband (found him in NYC) and daughter (grew her in Atlanta). She’s been living, loving, creating art and making connections in DC ever since! She now has two daughters (11 and 6). Shaniece enjoyed working in the non-profit/NGO sector for years until making the transition into full time chef, organizer, manager and volunteer (you know, a stay-at-home mom) and a part time artist, and occasional thrower of a good party. Shaniece loves family, reading, art, international relations and development, and building bridges. Exploring the world is very important to her and she loves to travel with family and friends.


  1. Excellent! I’m more of a space provider for parties and need my community to contribute to the eats! Your suggestions about preparing main dishes and having plenty of munchies is extra helpful!

    Can’t wait to put the suggestion to use in the new year.

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