Before you start worrying about the details, stop and think about what a perfect Christmas party means. It is not a matter of following the neighbors. It does not do things like your family did when you were young. And this is absolutely not to try to be someone you are not.
You now have permission to move away from these stressful notions. As soon as you make the guest list, set up a four week countdown to "do" list complete with shopping and grocery lists.
You can do it faster, but if you give yourself several weeks to prepare, the task is less daunting and you will have more fun in the process. Plan a party that you as a hostess will really enjoy. It means no complicated menu as you are stuck in the kitchen.
You are the host, not the caterer, and your friends want to spend time with you. Whether you're hosting a dinner or an open house, choose foods that are easy to serve and manage on your own, such as in a slow cooker or hot plate.
Make sure your food choices are easy to handle. At an open house or cocktail party, guests mingle and stand up. So you have to serve snacks and nothing that requires a fork and a knife to eat.
An end of the year party is usually better dressed than the summer backyard barbecue, so avoid messy foods. Save lasagna or steak for a sit-down dinner. Even buffalo wings that work well for a football party do not go well with sequins and dresses.
To circulate a party, scatter trays of food in several rooms, not just in the dining room. Add a few cheese and sandwich trays in the living room and desserts in the family room. To lead your guests, print small cards at each place with directions like this:
"Fabulous desserts are waiting for you in the family room." It's almost like a treasure hunt that allows guests to move and find new conversation groups as well as more delicious trees.
For your Christmas party, you will want to incorporate many Christmas decorations. Choose a color and a theme. That does not mean buying the party shop with kitsch.
If you are using a green tablecloth, center the table or service area with red holly. Then repeat the sprigs of holly (artificial are easier and safer) as a towel rack. You can even serve brownies with small red holly berry and iced green icing sold in the grilling section of the grocery store. The little touches that repeat a color or theme remind the guests that you have planned these months in advance!
Take a lot of pictures. The hostess must take a digital photo with each guest or group. Not only is it a great souvenir of the party, but it can be sent to each guest with a "thank you to come to my party" card.
Or you can place the photo in a Christmas ornament and give it as a personalized gift. Your guests will love it. After all, the holidays are about bringing people together and enjoying the time you have together. Make this year's holiday party the one you remember.