Your jingle ball starts with coming up with the right theme! MASH PHOTO ILLUSTRATION

By Ally Daskalopoulos
Niles West

The leaves have all fallen, the temperature is dropping and holiday music is everywhere. It’s that time of year again … the holidays. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus or just the new year, consider these tips when planning your next holiday party.

Have a theme
Having a themed party makes the planning much easier. You can buy themed supplies such as Christmas lights, appropriately colored streamers, and even the beverages can be dyed with food coloring. You don’t have to spend a lot to spread a little holiday cheer!

Your invitations should be sent out about two weeks before the event. Too long before, and your guests might forget about the event. Less than two weeks before the event doesn’t give people enough notice.

Shed light on the subject
Decorating your venue with Christmas lights may sound cheap, but nothing can brighten up the room more than a few strings of twinkling lights to make you feel festive.

All gamed out?
If your guests grow tired of playing games then you can always resort to holiday movies and reruns of holiday episodes from sitcoms. However, once “It’s a Wonderful Life” comes on I tune out. Showing the Christmas episodes of “Friends,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Frasier” is always a hit.

Applying a dress code
Party planner Denise Christopoulos recommends setting a certain dress code for holiday-themed parties. “The invitation should state that the sweaters are a great find and are super cheap at Salvation Army stores,” she says. “You are also helping a worthy cause by purchasing them.” Note: Refrain from any “sexy Santas” as this trend tends to get out of hand and can give your party a bad rep. Indicate the dress code on the invitation.

You don’t always have to play “Jingle Bell Rock” while exchanging gifts. Stick to a playlist that’s classic, varied and not obnoxious. The smooth melodies of a saxophone can be just as effective in setting the winter mood to your party versus blaring vocals or modern remakes of old songs.

Sweets for the sweet
Holiday parties are the perfect place to serve homemade cookies, hot chocolate and candy canes. If you don’t have time to labor over the stove and perfect those cookies, make it a potluck so each guest is responsible for bringing a treat. Guests are always glad to bring their own traditions to the table, and exchange recipes with one another.

Oh, goody!
Goody bags are a must at every party. “I always give a small inexpensive hostess gift for everyone to go home with,” says Christopoulos. “It always brings a smile and people love going home with something.”

>> Do you have a tip for how to throw the best holiday party? Share it in the comments below or tweet it to us @mashchicago!

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About The Mash

Maura Wall Hernandez is digital editor of The Mash.

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