20 Christmas Party Ideas for Your Best Fête Yet

Including the couple-dollars trick to making your home smell incredible.

christmas party ideas

Hosting the best holiday bash on the block requires some serious entertaining chops. Prep for the merriest Christmas party with some our favorite entertaining tips. Now you just have to decide what you're going to wear...

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charlotte moss christmas decorating ideas
James Merrell
Layer Garlands

Weaving together pine, spruce and juniper creates one lush mantel. Tastemaker Charlotte Moss adds birch twigs, winterberry and silvery pinecones to her display for an extra sparkle. Spritz the boughs daily to keep them fresh for the main event.

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Johnny Miller
Serve Comfort Food

It might not seem fancy, but the tried-and-true favorites make guests go crazy, according to resident entertaining expert Lulu Powers. Whip up orzo mac and cheese, taco tartlets and lamb sliders and the bite-sized treats will disappear as fast as you can plate them. 

Get the recipes »

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James Merrell
Leave No Nook Untouched

Bookshelves, brackets, statues and niches: Add decorations absolutely everywhere, advises Charlotte Moss. The little pops of greenery will surprise guests — and make your home an actual winter wonderland. 

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persimmon punch
Johnny Miller
Stir Up Some Punch

No bartender, no problem. Just prep a batch of this boozy persimmon cocktail ahead of time (pour in a bottle of sparkling rosé just before serving) and garnish with dehydrated persimmon slices — they look like little flowers! No one will miss the eggnog one bit. 

Get the recipe »

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Francesco Lagnese
Leave a Present at Each Place

Don't let visitors leave empty-handed. Designer Tom Scheerer always tops his holiday table settings with a neatly wrapped favor. "To me, the wrap­ping is at least as important as the gift," he says.

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James Merrell
Give a Warm Welcome

The decorations should always start at the front door. A cluster of jingle bells reminds visitors of a sleigh as they come and go; tie on some initial ornaments as a personalized touch.

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red and white banner on staircase
José Picayo
Go Big in the Entryway

Red and white paper bells look bright and cheerful strung up on a bannister. (These came from a wedding supply store!)

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John Dolan
Set Up a Hot Chocolate Bar

Let guests customize cups of hot cocoa with ginger candies, coconut flakes, mini marshmallows and caramel syrup. Adults can stir in dark rum or vanilla vodka with chocolate-dipped biscuit sticks and peppermint sticks.

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Ngoc Minh Ngo
Cover the Ceiling

An intimate evening starts by building up from the tabletop and down from the ceiling, according to event designer Bryan Rafanelli. Fluffy paper snowflakes and tall candlesticks do the trick.

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gold and silver holiday place setting
Joe Schmelzer
Glam Up the Tabletop

Don't rely on red and green to set the scene. Mixed metals — think silver, gold and trendy copper — feel just right for a Christmas feast.

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ETHAN CALABRESE
Bake (Lots of) Brie

Melty, gooey cheese is always the star of cocktail hour. Set out a fresh-from-the-oven wheel with crackers, pita chips or even sliced apples

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The Recipe Rebel
Brew Cocktails in the Slow Cooker

Delegate bartending duties to your crockpot this year. This wintry cider adds cranberry, cinnamon and cloves for extra-festive flavor.

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michael aram tablescape
Tara Striano
Eat by the Fire

A sit-down dinner feels way more cozy with the soundtrack of a crackling fireplace. And this way, it's easier to settle into a food coma after dessert.

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Ngoc Minh Ngo
Dress Up the Bar Cart

People are inevitably going to gather around the drinks station. Pretty it up with a garland, sparkly glassware and, of course, plenty of booze.

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candy cane cake
Becky Luigart-Stayner
Combine the Centerpiece With Dessert

Don't rush out to buy boatloads of flowers. An over-the-top cake can also be the star of the room.

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Kate Sears
Make the House Smell Like Christmas

Please the senses by tucking pomander balls in every niche. Studded with cloves or star anise, the decorative oranges make the house smell amazing (and not like your aunt's perfume).

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fireplace mantel with candles
José Picayo
Light Lots of Candles

There's something to be said for mood lighting. Dress up the mantel with a mishmash of red and green tapers instead of generic white ones.

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Use Frozen Berries to Keep Drinks Cold

Watering down the Champagne is not cool. Thread a skewer through frozen cranberries or raspberries for a flavorful chiller.

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Hang a Photo Backdrop

Give the people what they want: a picture-perfect background for some fun snaps. Attach gift bows to a poster board, hang a curtain of twinkle lights or tape up a sheet of patterned paper. Either way, the photos will be Instagram-worthy.

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Ian Bagwell
Send Guests Home With Treats

Friends don't let friends leave empty-handed. Meet them at the door with to-go boxes of your favorite holiday sweet, like these pumpkin whoopie pies.

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