How To Throw a Holiday Dinner Party

How To Throw a Holiday Dinner Party

Party, Party, Party

I definitely have a little bit of a Suzy-Homemaker-type mindset when it comes to parties. I love planning and organizing them! It’s addicting to me! When I was a kid I planned small parties for my cousins to come to for almost every holiday. I planned everything from the snacks and crafts to the games and prizes. There were only four of us at these parties, and I’m pretty sure that sometimes my cousins felt forced to take part in the activities. But in the end, they definitely had a good time (I mean, obviously. Why wouldn’t they?).

One of my favorite parts of being a young adult is that I’m at an age when I can start throwing nice parties that my friends can enjoy too. It’s nice to take a break from the college-type hangouts (i.e. frat parties, bars, just grabbing pizza between night classes, etc.) and do something out of the ordinary. I hosted a dinner party last year for my friends and got an amazing reaction from them. They all want to do it again! Dinner parties take you and your guests out of your chaotic, busy college lives for a few hours. You may even feel like a real adult for a little bit.

Having a dinner party with college friends is something everyone needs to do before they graduate. It’s not too late to throw one together this holiday season! Here are some of my tips and tricks for throwing a dinner party:

Come Up With A Theme

Parties with themes are about a million times more exciting and memorable. I didn’t technically have a theme for my dinner party, but I did request that all of my guests dressed up. This was a cocktail-dress type of event. Sweatshirts and jeans were completely absent from my dinner party. While sweatshirts and jeans are comfortable, they’re so typical college. I wanted my dinner party to be classy and adult-like. I think we all felt more adult because we dressed up for the occasion.

Some other theme ideas:

  • Ugly Sweater Party – everyone wears ugly sweaters
  • Winter Wonderland – everyone wears white
  • Christmas Movies – everyone dresses up as their favorite characters from Christmas movies, or assign everyone a character from one specific movie
  • Santa’s Workshop – dress up like elves and one person has to be Santa

Get Your Gang Together

Not everyone will be as enthusiastic as you would like them to be when they hear “dinner party.” So, you gotta get your friends excited about it. Explain that while, yes, this is a dinner party, it’s not what they’re thinking of. There’s going to be good food, great booze, games, and maybe even prizes. Tell them not to think of it as a dinner party, but more of a normal get together in a different setting. While you might have some friends who aren’t going to be as open to a dinner party, I pretty much guarantee you that most of your friends will be excited about your night.

If you have time and really want to go above and beyond with this real-adult thing, you can send out actual snail-mail invites. But, if you want to go more of an economical route, Facebook invites or E-vites work just as well. Make sure you include the date, time, place, theme, and dress-code on your invite. If you’re allowing people to bring a plus one or if you would like them to bring a dish or a gift, make sure you mention that explicitly on your invite as well.

Plan the Menu and Ask Your Guests TO Contribute

My dinner party was Italian themed. I made pasta and eggplant parm. You don’t necessarily have to plan a certain cuisine for your dinner party, but you should definitely ask your guests to contribute. I only made a few dishes for my party, but it was still a lot of work. Take any help you can get. Start a poll on GroupMe or your Facebook event with the dishes or types of dishes (carbs, vegetables, wine, soda, etc.) you’re going to need. Have each one of your guests claim responsibility for that dish or drink. You can also ask your guests to bring little things you haven’t thought of like paper plates, napkins, or plastic silverware.

Plan Some Activities

This dinner is mainly about, well, the food, but you should plan some other activities for your guests to take part in. These activities can be simple and require little to no prep work, like board games. I think we played Cards Against Humanity or another card game like it at my dinner party. You can also plan activities that involve your guests coming prepared with something like Secret Santa, voting on the ugliest sweater, or voting for the best cookies. You can definitely incorporate the theme of your party into the activities.

Be Prepared to Put in Work For Set Up and Clean UP

When I say hosting my dinner party was a lot of work, I mean A. LOT. OF. WORK. Don’t get me wrong. I loved hosting it and would totally do it again. You just have to kind of be mentally prepared for how much work you’re going to have to put into it. Prep-work for the party doesn’t start hours before but days and possibly even weeks before. There are things you’re going to have to buy, food you’re going to have to make, and an entire house you’re going to have to clean before your guests get there. The day of my dinner party last year, I prepared from the time I woke up to when my guests arrived. And, I feel like I still didn’t have everything completely ready by the time they came over.

Clean up is also a big process. Definitely, don’t let everything pile up last minute. Start cleaning up dinner plates and leftovers once everyone is done eating and before you enjoy the activities and the rest of your wine. If you clean up as you go, you won’t have to stay up for hours after your guests leave putting your house back in order. Also, a HUGE TIP I have for you: if you can have someone kind of co-host with you and show up early and then leave late to help you with prep and clean up, that would be optimal. Believe me, you don’t want to be doing this entire thing completely alone. Any little bit of help will make a huge difference to you.

Enjoy the Party

It’s kind of hard to enjoy your party when you’re the host because, well, you’re the host. You’ll feel like there’s always something you have to do. At some point, you have to take a break. This is your party after all, so enjoy it! Sit back, have a well-deserved glass of wine, and have fun in the warming company of your friends.


Don’t be nervous! You’re going to throw a great holiday party! Just remember to take it step by step and try not to get overwhelmed by all of the prep-work and cleanup. It’s the holiday season after all! You have to be merry!

Happy Hosting, my Dolls!

Does the end of the semester got you feeling crazy? Take a moment to be thankful for what you have and read “Real Talk: Why You Should Live Gratefully.”

To get a more in-depth look at the world of The Porcelain Doll, be sure to follow me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Also, check out my Facebook pageYouTube channel, and poetry blog.

9 thoughts on “How To Throw a Holiday Dinner Party

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