A guide to hosting Christmas for the first time

Make your first time hosting Christmas a breeze with our top Christmas party ideas and tips.

Updated

a Christmas tree next to a fire place

If hosting Christmas for the first time seems like an impossible mission, don’t panic! Our guide to hosting Christmas will lead you through it all, from theme and decoration ideas to Christmas dinner party ideas. Ready to learn how to host a Christmas party? Let the festive planning commence!

When you’re planning a Christmas party at home, one of the first things you need to do is give your house a deep clean. Wipe down every surface with a multipurpose cleaner like Handy Andy and keep your bathrooms sparkling and smelling fresh with Domestos Thick Bleach.

Christmas party themes

When you’re hosting Christmas, party ideas are probably flowing a bit too freely – there’s just so much choice! Rein it all in by narrowing it down to a couple of Christmas party themes and pick your favourite. You can then match your decorations, food and fun to it. Some ideas include:

  • Winter wonderland
  • Masquerade
  • Traditional Christmas sweaters
  • Après ski

Christmas party ideas for decorations

Part of hosting a Christmas party at home is making the space look festive. You don’t need to go overboard – remember, there won’t be space for lots of floor-standing decorations when all the guests are there! Place the tree in a corner, so it doesn’t get knocked over and go for wall-mounted decorations instead. If you need help putting the tree up, read our guide to tree decorating that's perfect if you have little ones involved!

Finish by adding a wreath on the front door to set the scene and welcome your guests. You can also add a simple, low centrepiece to the dining table - just make sure guests can still see each other over the top! Hosting a Christmas party at home involves a lot of work, so keep it simple with easy decorations.

Christmas party ideas for entertainment

A key part of hosting a party is creating a fun, festive atmosphere. Classic Christmas tunes will create an easy bit of background music to hide any awkward silences in conversations. Print out some cocktail recipes and let the adults have a go at making their own – it’ll save you time, too!

If you’ve got kids coming to the party, get some plain gingerbread shapes for them to decorate with icing pens and edible decorations.

Hosting Christmas dinner

Staying on top of hosting Christmas dinner is all down to one thing: preparation. The more you can prepare in advance, the better, so choose your dishes on that premise:

  • Go for cold starters that can be plated quickly.
  • Pick a dessert that can be made at least the day before or frozen in advance and defrosted on Christmas Eve.
  • Choose a main dish that meets all of the guest’s dietary requirements to avoid making lots of different dinners. Remember to prepare separate gravies for vegetarians!
  • Some guests might be happy to bring side dishes to help lighten your load so send out a small list or ask guests to supply a couple of drinks instead.

Your Christmas dinner party ideas will also need to include drinks. Rather than having to serve people, set up a table as a bar area with soft drinks, alcohol and glasses for guests to help themselves. Add some bowls of nibbles to keep them going until the main event.

Planning a Christmas party at home: a checklist

When you’re hosting Christmas for the first time it pays to be organised. A checklist will help you feel on top of it all:

At least one month in advance:

  • Pick a theme.
  • Send invitations.
  • Plan your menu.
  • Choose decorations.
  • Arrange entertainment.

1-2 weeks in advance:

  • Buy food and drink that can be frozen/stored until the big day.
  • Put up your decorations.
  • Begin preparing any starters or desserts that can be frozen.
  • Check your RSVPs and chase any outstanding invites.
  • Send out any other information for guests - such as any food or drink they should bring, and what time they should arrive.

The day before:

  • Set the table.
  • Prepare as much of your menu as you can.
  • Give the home a good clean - make sure it is ready for guests and focus on the kitchen and bathroom in particular.
  • Clear a space to hold guests coats or bags - a closet or coat rack works well but if this isn't possible you can just assign a spare room for holding coats.

Hosting Christmas doesn’t have to be overwhelming when you’ve got a plan in place. Use our tips and prepare as much in advance as possible. Don’t be shy about asking for help, either – your friends and family will want to contribute and our article on the Christmas clean-up can offer more tips.

  • Pick a theme to help bring some focus to the rest of your planning.
  • Keep the decorations simple, leaving plenty of space for guests to move around.
  • Choose starters and desserts that can be made in advance.
  • Choose a main dish that meets your guest’s dietary requirements.
  • Use a checklist to help you feel in control.
  • Originally published