Creative Holiday Party Ideas to Make Things a Little Extra This Season

Because we could all use a little boost of fun this holiday season.

So you've decided to throw a holiday party. Congratulations! You're about to give your loved ones an amazing event to enjoy—and to remember for years to come. Now it's time to plan something seriously extra! How do you create a holiday party that'll be one for the ages? Try these tips from entertaining experts to add a little extra wow to your celebration.

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Make It More Intimate

You may be the more-the-merrier type. But the recent trend toward smaller, more intimate parties may be the key to making yours memorable. It lets you spend quality time with each guest—and perhaps splurge a little more on luxe details for your celebration.

"Keep your list to those people who make you feel special, who you really want to be there," says entertaining expert Lory Parson of To Have + To Host.

02 of 07

Give Your Party a Glow-up

"This year is all about sparkles—glitter, sequins, and glam," says entertaining expert Julie Blanner. "Rim cocktail glasses with clear or gold sanding sugar, add a touch of edible gold dust to desserts, or lay it on your table."

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Optimize Your Holiday Decor

Christmas tends to have a more-is-more aesthetic. But to really add oomph to your holiday decorating, choose a single theme and run with it.

"If you tend to spread your Christmas decorations on every available surface, wall, and window, you can lose each element's special impact," says Benjamin Bradley, host of Netflix's Holiday Home Makeover With Mr. Christmas. "That's why a theme often works best—or select certain areas of your home to focus upon."

Bradley suggests using themes based on characters (such as Santa, the Grinch, or Elf), objects (candy, cookies, or winter forest), or even just colors, such as a silver-and-gold or red-and-white theme. "This allows us to group like themed items or colors and immediately create impact and order."

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Let Your Guests Know They're Special to You

The holiday season is the perfect time to let people know how much you love them.

"Anything you can do to add an extra personal touch to your event will go a long way," Parson says. She suggests placing a handwritten note on everyone's seat, letting them know how much you care about them.

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Add a Little Wanderlust to Your Party Theme

Parties with a cosmopolitan feel are often memorable. You can bring the world to your front door by theming your party around your favorite destination. Parson is a huge fan of creating global celebrations—like a Venetian feast with pasta and Tuscan wine, served with ornate gold plates and goblets.

"Another year, I did a Nordic Christmas with very minimalistic decor details like white birch branches, lots of candles, glass terrariums, and sheepskin blankets over the chairs," she says.

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Create an Artfully Paired-Down Menu

Not ready to manage a dozen different dishes? Less can be more when it comes to your menu.

"Pick four favorite foods—a relish dish, a shrimp bowl, a cheese or dip, and one warm element—and serve those in abundance," Bradley says. "Put your dollars into quantity, not variety. Mounds of shrimp, bacon-wrapped dates, overflowing relish trays, and scrumptious cheeses will look festive and provide something for everyone."

Just make sure you're attentive to your guests' food preferences or intolerances. "One of the easiest ways to make guests feel special is to ask ahead of time about any food aversions, restrictions, or allergies," Blanner says. "Being considerate of our guests' dietary needs is one of the most thoughtful ways to approach an event with food."

And don't forget dessert! Individual tiny cakes or treats will be a perfect finish for your party.

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Offer a Parting Gift

Party favors are always a hit—especially if it's something tasty and tasteful. "If we do a party favor, it's often something homemade that our guests can enjoy as a consumable treat later," Blanner says. "It's easy to send guests home with homemade cookies, breads, or hot chocolate bombs."

Consider offering a little something they can enjoy the next morning, such as homemade granola, your favorite coffee or tea, or even a pair of muffins for their morning breakfast.

Blanner is also a fan of letting guests take home their favorite treats at the end of the night—so she doesn't end up with too many leftovers. "We will often include some cute little takeaway treat boxes near our desserts at gatherings. Guests can grab what they'd like on their way out the door at the end of the party."

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