Holiday parties. Love them. Can’t not go to them. This time of year, they are both pleasurable and inevitable. I have to admit that one of the highlights of my holiday season is the holiday party I throw. It started out as a Georgetown McDonough School of Business party – for those in our class who remained in DC after graduation. It evolved into an evening filled with friends I love, and bubbly.
While every year I end the party thinking of what I can improve on next year, there are a few things I now do every year that seem to be conducive to a fun evening.
- A party is made up first and foremost of people. My guests don’t all know each other, but somehow, every year a few people find that they have common acquaintances with another guest. When I put my guest list together, I invite people I love and I purposely include a few new friends. I think about who might enjoy meeting whom, and the most gratifying reward is having people connect and ask me for each other’s phone numbers and email addresses.
- I love sophisticated, and I love welcoming. I strive for both, finding that fine line between elegant and casual. This means a cocktail dress, 4 inch or higher heels, red lipstick. It also means Miller Lite, finger food, hugs, spills, and broken glasses. One makes the other better.
- Glass and china change the feeling of a party. I used to buy plastic, now instead I rent the real thing. Extra benefit… no loads of dishwashing for me.
- People drink. It is a New Orleans rule (and possible a rule everywhere) that it is always better to have liquor left over rather than running out of alcohol. Buy extra – it will get drunk. I don’t have a full bar – I selfishly serve what I love to drink. And yes, New Orleans has rubbed off on me. From champagne and wine, this party’s drink selection has evolved to include vodka and bourbon, red bull, bitters, and maraschino cherries.
- People eat. From the traditional cheese and crackers, this party has evolved to homemade chicken and sausage gumbo. As in homemade from scratch. (Yes, I do have a Louisiana-born and bred husband, which helps…). Serving something “exotic” that will not be served at any other holiday party in my neighborhood makes my night.
- Bubbles are festive and make people happy. While in my family we drink champagne year-round, and sometimes just because it is Tuesday, the holiday time is particularly conducive to champagne, prosecco, cava…. Don’t underestimate the power of those little bubbles.
- Never start cleaning up until every guest is gone. It’s just neither polite, nor fun.
- Clean up that evening, no matter how late (which may mean the morning after). There is nothing worse than waking up to half empty glasses everywhere, and nothing better than waking up to all glasses in their crates, and nothing but the hostess gifts left to discover.
And above all, enjoy. Laugh. Hug. Drink. And be merry.