Holiday party ideas: Party guests hold sparklers

‘Tis the season to be jolly and there’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit¬†than with a fabulous party. Whether you’re searching for ways to liven up your family get-together¬†or need some office holiday inspiration, we have you covered.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a pro at event planning, this guide will get you going with the best holiday party ideas¬†including decor, food, drinks, themes, games, and activities. Best of all, these ideas are perfect if you have a limited budget.

Holiday Party Planning: Decor, Themes, and Food

When it’s time to deck the halls, these holiday party ideas¬†work great for your home party or office party. The first step is sending out your holiday party¬†invitations. Once you’ve handled that part, it’s time to move on to other parts of the party planning process. Here’s how to make it happen.

Decor Ideas

Holiday party ideas: A table setting with pine cones and fir tree branches

When it comes to creating the perfect setting, it doesn’t have to take much time or money with these simple, cost-saving ideas for fabulous holiday party¬†decor.

  • Forage for decorations:¬†Save your cash and go au natural! Use fallen pine cones, twigs, branches, and clusters of pine from your backyard, local park, or other public outdoor space. (You could also strategically clip a few branches from your Christmas tree¬†‚ÄĒ no one will even notice.) After a little clean-up, you’ll have truly natural decor for your winter wonderland¬†tablescape and mantel. Scatter a few walnuts, chestnuts, or pecans¬†for yet another seasonal touch.
  • Light up the room:¬†To make the season bright and extra cozy, place flameless tea lights or votives inside Mason jars. Wrap the jars with festive ribbon and mini jingle bells, sprigs of holly, or any other decorative items you like. Best of all, you can find most (if not all) of these items at your local dollar store.
  • Place ornaments in a jar:¬†Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Ornaments instantly add holiday ambiance, so fill up any clear vases or jars you have with a variety of colorful ornaments. If you’re really in a pinch, use glassware of different sizes to create visual interest. (For wine glasses, rocks glasses, or other small glasses, simply fill with mini Christmas¬†ornaments.)
  • Dress up the chairs: Whether you’re¬†decorating¬†your home or your office conference room, it’s easy to add festive flair by wrapping chairs with a wide ribbon and tying it in a bow at the back. For a whimsical finishing touch, loop in fresh or faux greenery, pine cones, berries, or glittery¬†plastic ornaments in snowman, snowflake, reindeer, and other holiday shapes.
  • Add some gift box glam: Who says gifts only belong under the tree?¬†For a stylish spin on holiday decorations, simply wrap up empty boxes of different sizes in coordinating colors and ribbons and place them wherever you could use some holiday charm. Add them alongside the other decorative ideas on this list to create a lovely holiday vignette.

Party Themes

A holiday gift wrapped with a holly branch, surrounded by twine, fir branches, and candy canes

Now that you have some ideas on how to dress up your holiday party, you need a theme. Take a look at these options that’ll get your creative wheels turning for your next bash.

  • Holidays around the world potluck: This party theme¬†is particularly suited for a company holiday party¬†where coworkers come from all different backgrounds. Ask everyone to bring a favorite dish that celebrates their culture’s culinary holiday traditions. Whether it’s tamales, latkes, pasteles, toshikoshi soba, or b√Ľche de no√ęl, you’ll have an instant conversation starter as attendees¬†ask about the backstory of each dish.
  • Wintertime beach bash: Baby, it’s cold outside but you can heat things up with a fun summer-themed holiday party. Choose a tropical, beach, luau, or BBQ¬†theme that brings those warm, sun-filled vibes¬†indoors. Greet guests with party leis and colorful cocktails, and encourage them to wear their favorite Hawaiian-print shirts and summer hats.
  • Holiday pajama party:¬†It doesn’t get much cozier or comfier than having a PJ party with your nearest and dearest. This theme might be a little hard to pull off for an office party, but we’re thinking your coworkers wouldn’t complain. After all, once the party ends, there’s no need to change clothes. You’re ready for bed!
  • Favorite things f√™te: Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens might be a few of Julie Andrews’ favorite things, but you can jazz up your own holiday party¬†by having guests gift¬†one another with an item they love. Set a spending limit (say, $20) and watch as the conversation flows when people share the reasons why they chose the gift.
  • DIY¬†ugly sweater party: Why buy an ugly sweater when you can design one yourself? Ask guests to bring an old sweater or sweatshirt to the party and set up a table with plenty of crafty supplies ‚ÄĒ think scissors, hot glue guns, fabric markers, stencils, rhinestones, pom poms, appliques, sparkles, and bells. At the end of the party, you can give a prize for the tackiest sweater of the bunch.

Food and Drinks

Holiday party ideas: A hot chocolate station

No party would be complete without tasty holiday treats. Here are a few ideas for filling up at your soiree.

  • Finger foods:¬†If you’re trying to keep expenses down, remember that you don’t have to host an entire sit-down dinner. Instead, host it happy-hour¬†style with an array of appetizers¬†and easy party snacks, and ask guests to BYOB. If you’re not doing booze, ask attendees¬†to bring some holiday sweets instead.
  • Hot chocolate¬†station: Have the cocoa, marshmallows, chocolate shavings, mini candy canes, cinnamon sticks, and sprinkles ready to go for this sweet idea that appeals to the kid in all of us. For a “Naughty or Nice” theme for the grown-ups, consider options for spiked hot cocoa. You could also apply this same idea to create an eggnog¬†station.
  • Dipping station: Along with (or in lieu of) the finger foods, offer creative dips and dippers ‚ÄĒ spinach dip with zucchini chips, unusual hummus recipes¬†with pita, baked brie with crudite, and breadsticks with marinara are filling options that don’t cost much money.
  • Champagne bar:¬†Pop, fizz, clink! Break out the bottles of bubbly with this fun holiday party idea¬†that lets guests create their favorite sparkling drink. Include a few liqueurs, mixers, and garnishes (sliced winter citrus is a good seasonal choice). To save some cash, opt for a prosecco or sparkling wine rather than springing for real Champagne. After a few sips, nobody will know the difference!

Holiday Party Games and Activities

Holiday party ideas: Guests hold photo props in front of the Christmas tree

Step up the festivities with these fun, interactive party games that work for both family get-togethers and company holiday parties.

  • Selfie station: For an affordable alternative to pricey photo booths, gather a few fun props (Santa¬†hats, reindeer antlers, silly glasses, etc.) and encourage guests to grab a prop, take a shot, and hashtag it. (You can inform everyone of the party’s hashtag in your email invitations¬†and remind them at the party.) It’s a fun way to relive the revelry and see fun pics that others took.
  • Wrapping paper¬†fashion show: Gifts won’t be the only thing you’re wrapping this holiday season¬†thanks to this hilarious game. All you need is wrapping paper, tape, scissors, and a killer catwalk style. You can break up into teams of two (one model and one “fashion designer” to dress the person) or have each participant dress themselves to make it even more challenging. Consider giving a small prize for best dressed ‚ÄĒ and biggest fashion faux pas!
  • Everyone’s got talent:¬†Get to know your friends, family, or colleagues better with this fun holiday party idea. Let guests know ahead of time that there will be a talent show, so those who want to participate can bring any necessary supplies. (Juggling balls, glow sticks, or an accordion, perhaps?) For better or worse, this is one activity that’s sure to amuse.¬†(Who knew Uncle John could eyebrow dance like a boss?!)
  • Holiday movie¬†trivia: From “The Grinch” and “A Christmas Story” to “Elf” and beyond, test everyone’s pop culture prowess with a printable movie trivia¬†game. You can always add quotes and fun facts from your personal faves if you don’t see them on the list.
  • Merry textmas showdown: For this entertaining twist on texting, come up with a holiday message (at least 280 characters to up the ante) and write it down on a chalkboard or poster board so everyone can see. Then, set a timer for 10-20 seconds and have everyone text the message (there doesn’t have to be an actual recipient) to see who writes the message error-free. Read some of the texts aloud ‚ÄĒ you might be surprised at the hilarious autocorrects.

Holiday Party Ideas to Get the Party Started

There’s nothing like gathering with friends, family, and coworkers to enjoy some holiday cheer, and we hope this list sparked your own creativity. Don’t forget that sending online invitations¬†is one of the best ways to save time and money ‚ÄĒ Greenvelope lets you choose from a variety of customizable designs, track RSVPs, and so much more. And while you’re already in the holiday spirit, be sure to order your holiday cards¬†to share your merriest greetings of the season.