Throw the best bash in town with these handy tips!


  • Don’t rush into buying new items — ask around if you’re missing something essential to your party plans. At least one friend is sure to have a punch bowl or a cheeseboard.
  • Clean within reason. Obviously, you want the socialising area and the bathroom to be spick and span, but do you really need to clean up the clutter in your spare bedroom? Just close the door!
  • Do as much of the washing-up as you can before your guests arrive. This way, you (hopefully!) won’t be faced with loads to do at the end of the night, when all you want to do is lie down.
  • If any guests are bringing children, have a couple of activities on hand to keep them occupied, such as a Christmas colouring book and some colouring pencils. Older kids and teenagers will appreciate a room dedicated to a video game championship.
  • Use seasonal elements in your decorations. Fresh cranberries in jars with votive candles, sprigs of rosemary or thyme tied into napkins or bowls of citrus fruits add a pop of colour but cost far less than flowers.
  • Give every family member a job; even kids can help by taking people’s coats and putting them safely away.


  • If you don’t have a huge budget, consider whether you really need to throw a full three-course, sit-down meal. Why not change it up and put on a potluck party where everyone brings one dish? Alternatively, you could plan an unfussy buffet, focus on simple canapés and cocktails or just invite friends over for dessert and drinks.
  • Plan your menu or canapés well in advance and decide when you’ll go shopping for ingredients. Write a detailed shopping list so that you don’t forget anything.
  • Ensure that at least some of the food can be made in advance. This cuts down on the potential for stress, but also gives you more time to spend with your guests rather than slaving over the hob.
  • If you decide to make a dish that is new to you or particularly challenging, do a practice run in the weeks leading up to the party.
  • Give yourself a break and outsource where necessary. If desserts aren’t your area of expertise, don’t feel guilty about sourcing them from a local bakery (or a generous, talented friend).
  • Likewise, convenience items like prepared pastry or a good rustic loaf of bread can drastically cut your workload without affecting quality.

Finishing touches

  • Don’t forget the tunes! Make a playlist ahead of time and ensure it’s long enough to last the entire length of the party, meaning you don’t have to worry about breaks in the music.
  • Take cheeses for a cheeseboard out of the fridge at least 30-60 minutes before serving.
  • To keep your favourite dip cold while it’s sitting out, use a frozen bowl. This will help keep the dip chilled for longer.
  • Just a few simple garnishes can add a touch of easy elegance. Finish plates with fresh herbs; top hummus or other dips with a drizzle of olive oil and/or a sprinkling of paprika; and dust desserts with icing sugar.
  • Don’t forget to have fun! The actual purpose of a festive party is to have fun with friends and family. If a batch of canapés gets burned or wine spills on the rug, keep calm and party on.