The best holiday parties usually have three things in common: tasty food and drinks, fun decor, and a great group of people. Add to that list the latest trend of creating a highly interactive vibe at your event, and you've got the perfect recipe for a celebration that will be talked about all season long.
Our three creative and inspiring holiday party ideas--from kid-friendly to grown-up and glamorous--cover all those bases. You'll be set with recipes, plus shopping and DIY tips so that all you and your guests have to do is grab a mug of something warm (or a flute of something bubbly) and mingle effortlessly because you've created such a warm, inviting space.
DIY S'Mores Bar
Perhaps you're trimming the tree with the kids. Or coming inside after a night of caroling with the neighbors. Channel those happy camping memories with a festive holiday twist. Set up an ingredient station with everything your guests could possibly want to build their best s'mores. Best part? Buy it all or make it at home. Up to you.
If you want to go homemade, try one of these easy and delicious marshmallow recipes or these for graham crackers. Offer a variety of sauces, including caramel and butterscotch, and make sure you have a variety of milk and dark chocolates available. Fun twist: make your own chocolate bark studded with seasonal pops of color from pomegranate seeds and dried persimmon pieces. Allrecipes offers more than 30 chocolate bark recipes.
Mason jars are a great way to serve your sauces. Track some down at your local thrift store or pick up some jars at Target. Cherished family mugs work, too.
Make a few different flavors of marshmallows by using a drop or two of almond or peppermint extract. Pile them into ramekins, like these from World Market.
You can't have s'mores without fire. Use any small charcoal grill, like a Weber Mini or set up a planter with a Sterno can in it and lava rocks piled around to give the illusion of a campfire. Adult supervision required, of course.
Roll Out a Mini Gourmet Spread
Admit it. Every edible mini is cute, whether it's a mini eclair or a mini quiche. So why not treat your favorite four couples to a multi-course, Asian-themed gourmet minis holiday party on New Year's Eve? They'll be cooing about it all year.
There are big benefits to making minis. First, serving smaller portions means you can buy higher quality products. Second, it is an excuse to use adorable tiny (and often disposable and biodegradable) plateware, like triangular palm leaf plates that are $20 for a case of 100 on Web Restaurant Store.
Turn up the jazz. Invest in some noisemakers and New Year's Eve party hats from Oriental Trading Company. And enlist your most gregarious friend to mix the cocktails, starting with a spritzer for your guests made with sparkling wine, pomegranate molasses and pomegranate seeds served in a stemless flute (to appear mini). Have Moroccan tea glasses, like these from Berber Trading, and Champagne coupes on hand for your favorite 2- to 4-ounce cocktails.
Menu and Serving Ideas:
Line the center of your community table (or several tables next to each other) with Chinese takeout boxes, like these from Amazon, filled with green papaya salad or this coleslaw-like Chinese chicken salad. Offer small plates and chopsticks for self-serve.
Want a seafood course? Grill a medium scallop (or two small scallops) for each guest using sesame oil. Finish with lemon or orange zest and serve in wonton soup spoons. You can also do a sensational Miso-glazed Skirt Steak or Beef Tenderloin with Ginger-Shiitake Brown Butter.
A Hipster Hanukkah Party
At this Festival of Lights holiday party, your guests are wearing ugly Hanukkah sweaters from Target and listening to music by . And in addition to the beloved potato latkes and sufganiyot, or jelly doughnuts they're accustomed to enjoying, you're going to spice things up by offering potato pancakes with exotic spices and seasonal ingredients. For starters? Pumpkin Sufganiyot with Cranberry Jelly, or serve These Sufganiyot, or Jelly Doughnuts.
Set up a station with different latkes and various toppings then let your guests come up with their favorite combinations. Try subbing in kohlrabi, turnips, or parsnips for some of the potato (if a standard recipe calls for three potatoes, use two potatoes and one turnip). And make sure to offer a batch of these kicky Curried Sweet Potato latkes.
Miniature Potato Lakes
In addition to the traditional sour cream and apple sauce toppings, make a simple pear sauce, like Steve's Fall Pear Sauce, or pick some up at your local grocery store. Offer savory mix-ins for the sour cream or Greek yogurt options, like sauteed shallots or garlic. From there, spin some dreidels and light the menorah, because this Hanukkah party is officially one they'll remember.
More Party Ideas:
- Make a Splash with Aged Eggnogg
- Swap Out the Mulled Wine for Luxe Red Wine and Hot Chocolate
- Host a Holiday Cookie Swap Party