So you’ve asked a load of friends over for a drink, some food and a bit of fun. It’s Christmas season, a time to celebrate, to connect and focus on what life is all about: people!
I’ve done 48 Christmas’s so far, and I love nothing more than a night with music and a few drinks with a bunch of close friends. Here’s how to make the evening perfect.
Preparation and planning
If there’s one thing I’d always do, it’s making sure you have a plan. Try to think through every aspect of the party and write it down. Make a list, and group it into the headings below, and discuss it with your partner or a mate. Make sure that you have everything covered.
Once you’ve got your plan, list the supplies you need to get hold of, and what needs to be done to get ready, and when. Give yourself enough time.
People and Date
I’d start with a simple list of the key people you want to invite. Make sure you allow for some no-shows. Work out a date that is going to be good for them. Plan well in advance: get a “Save the Date” out a couple of months early, especially if you are choosing a popular weekend in the run up to Christmas.
My top tip is to fill the space available. It’s much better for the party to feel a little cosy, than to be rattling around in a half empty space. Make sure you have enough people coming to fill the room, and a little bit more.
I like to have a printed invite. They’re good because they usually end up on display somewhere in the kitchen, and act as a reminder for people: to go out and get a dress, or some new shoes for example. It helps build a bit of buzz. You can get invitations printed online at sites like
Whether or not you choose to do fancy dress, it’s always good to get the mood right. The lighting and feel of the room is fundamental to this. Play with different styles of lighting, and it will make a huge difference. You can try:
• Dimmers, or just change the bulbs for something less bright
• Uplighters: you can get these cheaply in many stores
• Gels or coloured bulbs
• Strings of fairy lights: you can get 100 of these for about $20 on Amazon, and hang them up, wither indoors or outside
• A starlight projection, or something a bit unusual shone onto a ceiling
It’s no surprise that the success of your party will be influenced by how the drinks flow. There will certainly be some people who relax a little once they have a glass of wine in their hand. So make it your mission to get a drink to everyone quickly as they arrive, and to then keep them topped up.
Not only does this help them relax, but it’s also a good way for you to circulate and say hi to everyone.
What drink to buy, how much?
I often get asked how much drink to allow. For a evening drinks party (about 4 hours), you’ll average
– a bottle of wine per head, and
– 4 to 6 bottles or cans per beer drinker.
Of course, you may have a very different experience, and need a lot less, or more, but this is a good indicator. Have a selection of drinks: think through the people coming and you’ll probably know what they enjoy. A beer, a glass of wine, or maybe just soft drinks for some, especially the nominated drivers. You may also have friends who only drink a particular spirit, so make sure you have some of that ready.
And don’t forget to get a few bags of ice.
You’ll be surprised what a difference the right sort of music makes to your party…people love a good tune when they are relaxing.
Try to get enough speakers pointed into the room: having a lot of bodies in a room muffles the sound. When you play the music, make sure you have the volume right. Try to keep the music system away from the drinks….they don’t mix!
Put together 3 playlists for your party so you are well prepared: one each for the beginning, middle and end.
In the early stages of the party, you are best playing tunes that are popular, probably in the charts, but are not dance music. Avoid anything that is too slow and dreary.
The middle playlist can get progressively more upbeat, and the end one you can have ready if you want people to dance. Pick some favourite “floorfillers” that you know everyone will love. It’s often the women who will get started dancing first, so choose songs they will enjoy.
You’d be surprised how we don’t grow out of party games, whatever age or style of party. They can really bring a party alive. Even a very formal event can benefit from a couple of fun ice-breakers which will encourage conversation and mingling. The only thing to remember is to have fun and not make anyone feel intimidated.
Here are a couple of icebreaker party games that will work well at any Christmas drinks event:
Guess the Celebrity
The No Game