Checklist for Those Hosting Holiday Parties

ESTATENVY breaks down what you need to know.

At the stroke of midnight on October 31st, it happened. The holiday season officially kicked off nation-wide. You’re likely starting to get a gift list together for the kids, your parents and grandparents, getting out the Christmas Tree and lights and wiping the dust off the winter coats in your hall closet. That’s when it hits you—you agreed to host a Christmas party at your house this year. Insert panic here.

ESTATENVY spoke with one of Chicago’s most experienced party planners, John Stachnik, because we could all use a little help. Stachnik, who works with On the Scene, has been an event planner in the Windy City for the past 14 years. We asked him some questions that will likely keep us all on track this holiday season.

ESTATENVY (EE): Where should party hosts start when planning a holiday party?

John Stachnik (JS): “Start with the basics. Determine the type of party you want to host. Is it formal sit-down or casual cocktail? When and where will this party be held? What is my budget for this party? After you answer these questions, you can then decide if you need to work with an experienced event planner.”

EE: When should people start the planning process?

JS: “As soon as possible! The key holiday dates book quickly, so start planning next year’s party as soon as this year’s party ends.”

EE: What are some unknown trucks of the trade when planning a holiday party?

JS: “Consider hosting the party on a weekday or even after the holidays. You can save money and have a better selection of available venues.”

EE: What are some holiday party no-no’s that planners should stay away from?

JS: “Be careful when selecting the beverage options for the party. During the holidays, guests have a tendency to overindulge. Instead of offering a full premium bar, consider a beer, wine and soda bar. Cash bars are also acceptable. Plus, it’s important to remember all of your guests who might enjoy non-alcoholic options.”

EE: Should party hosts stay away from themes?

JS: “Not at all! Themes are a fun and interactive way to get your guests involved and engaged. If you’re planning a work holiday party, it’s important to plan a theme that fits in with your company’s theme or branding.”

When picking the perfect theme for your party, experts say to make them as interactive as possible with examples of “B.Y.O.B Wrapping Party,” “Gingerbread House Contest,” “Cookie Party: Cookie baking competition,” “Christmas Potluck Contest” or “DIY Ornament Party.” Other theme favorites are “Murder Mystery Dinners” and “Karaoke Christmas: Karaoke competitions among guests.”

One of the biggest pieces of advice Stachnik can offer: relax. When you take weeks to put together the perfect party, don’t forget to enjoy it yourself! Have a glass of wine, catch up with your friends and family and relish in your work. After all, ‘tis the season!