Hosting a Christmas open house party is a great way to spend time with each guest without feeling overwhelmed. The key to having a successful event is to put the effort into the planning stage so you get to enjoy the party yourself. Try a few of our tips and fun ideas to have a holiday open house that makes your home the center of Christmas cheer.
Choosing to Host a Christmas Open House
A Christmas open house offers more options to you and your guests compared to traditional Christmas get-togethers. It differs a bit from a traditional holiday party, as it allows you to set a broad window of time for guests to stop by at their convenience. Rather than a formal meal, guests can enjoy setting their own pace as they graze on finger foods and enjoy drinks. The benefit of having guests arrive throughout the festivities rather than at a set time is that you get more one-on-one time with each guest.
Hosting a Christmas open house gives you the chance to truly enjoy your guests while they appreciate your decked halls, delicious food, and festive atmosphere. You don't need to worry about spending the entire event in the kitchen or stressing when guests are running late because it's a casual arrangement that gives both hosts and guests plenty of flexibility.
Christmas Open House Variations
The best part of a Christmas open house party is that you can create any variation of the event that suits your schedule, budget, or home. Consider all the options you have and mix and match to find your perfect party. Here are a few themes we love:
- Christmas cookie exchange open house
- Christmas open house gift exchange
- Christmas open house hosted from mid-morning to afternoon
- Christmas open house hosted from early evening into the night
- Christmas open house costume party
- Christmas open house pajama party
- Black tie Christmas open house party
- Christmas open house cocktail party
Plan the Perfect Party With Details Your Guests Will Love
You may be the one hosting the Christmas party, but that doesn't mean you have to be stressed or too busy to enjoy the festivities. The secret to hosting a holiday party your guests love and actually enjoying it yourself is to plan ahead with a few details that make the event fun but easygoing.
Send Festive Invitations
Let your guests know how your Christmas open house party is going to flow by sending detailed but fun party invitations. Include the window of time the party will take place, any special travel or parking instructions, and an idea of what the menu will look like. Consider how formal your party will be. If you're opting for something more formal, you will want to mail elegant invitations. If the evening will be more casual, try sending cute virtual invites via email or text. Don't forget to make them jolly and full of Christmas cheer!
Print Custom Menus
To make your Christmas open house feel curated and special, print custom menus that inform your guests about the delicious holiday finger foods or treats they will get to enjoy. Try to coordinate the menu design with the invitations you sent out. Mention the beverage and drink options as well. Use the menu to let guests know if you'll be serving certain items at specific times, where they can help themselves to appetizers and drinks, and what potential allergens might be present in the food.
Set a Merry Mood
The ambiance is important at any party, but especially when the Christmas spirit is involved. Help guests feel the joy of the season with thoughtfully placed candles, plenty of twinkle lights, Christmas scents in every room, and a Christmas playlist with all the classics or fun songs.
Pass Out Party Favors
No party is complete without a proper party favor to give to guests as they exit. Make party favors yourself, gift something edible, or purchase something small that guests will appreciate. Choose what works best for your party theme and budget:
- Christmas candy
- Christmas-scented soaps or small candles
- Christmas potpourri or simmer pot ingredients
- Homemade hot cocoa mix
- Small bottles of wine or champagne
- Mini Christmas pies or bags of cookies
- Keepsake ornaments
- Christmas mugs or tumblers
Go All-in With Christmas Decorations
Decide how formal your open house will be and decorate accordingly. Create points of interest for guests to notice and try to cover every room that guests will be in so they're met with the Christmas spirit from beginning to end.
Consider Christmas Decor Styles and Themes
Plan to have a consistent theme within your decor so that guests can experience it throughout their visit. If you want them to take notice of your holiday decor, try a cohesive theme or Christmas decor style. Select a theme or style that suits your home and feels true to what you love about Christmas:
- Nutcracker Christmas
- Winter Wonderland
- Santa's Workshop
- Traditional Christmas
- Farmhouse Christmas
- Nordic Christmas
- Modern Christmas
- Minimalist Christmas
Pay close attention to points of interest your guests will notice most when selecting what parts of your home to decorate:
- Christmas tree
- Table settings
- Fireplace mantel
- Tabletop decorations
Put Up Exterior Christmas Decorations
The first thing party-goers will notice is your home's exterior. Impress them before they even step out of the car with elegant exterior decorations. This is especially helpful if your driveway is long, hidden, or you live in an apartment building. The exterior decor will help guests find you easily and start feeling the Christmas spirit before you answer the door. Don't forget to include a festive wreath on your front door!
Make Your Restroom Guest-Friendly
Let guests know where the restroom is located and take some time to make it cohesive with the rest of your party preparations. Try holiday-scented soaps, a festive candle, small Christmas decorations, or even a wreath on the door to help guests when searching for the restroom.
Greet Guests With a Beautiful Entryway
As your guests enter, you'll want them to feel welcomed and ready to celebrate the holiday. Give your entryway plenty of attention when decorating for your party. Designate an area for guests to leave coats and bags. Use the entryway to define the flow of the party with signs or decor pointing toward food or party entertainment.
Impress Guests With a Merry Menu
One of the most anticipated elements of any holiday celebration is the food. Give your guests a food and drink selection that has them handing out compliments until they leave.
Keep Food Festive and Simple
Refreshments and finger foods typically work best for an open house so guests can eat at their leisure. Try to plan a menu of festive foods that are simple to prepare, so you are free to mingle with guests as they arrive. You can also include catered foods or items from your local store or bakery, so you have even more time to focus on the people that make the Christmas season special for you.
Mix Merry Cocktails and Mocktails
Add plenty of Christmas spirit with a festive lineup of Christmas-inspired cocktails and mocktails. Set these up for easy grabbing by guests or serve them yourself as guests enter as a way to make sure you personally greet everyone. Try having a few different options and at least one mocktail, so there's something for everyone to enjoy.
Have a Christmas Coffee Station
Keep guests caffeinated and warm with a self-serve coffee station. Include decaf, hot cocoa for kids, and plenty of fun add-ins like whipped cream, syrups, and marshmallows. Make this area as festive as the rest of your home with decorations.
Designate Food Stations
Keep the party flowing smoothly by designating food stations throughout your home so guests can eat at their own pace. Have a place for appetizers, main courses, desserts, and drinks if you decide to include all of these in your party. This will encourage your guests to move around and see all of your beautiful decorations while engaging in plenty of conversation with one another.
Choose Informal Table Settings
With guests arriving at different times, it makes sense to have an informal table-setting arrangement. Have a grab-and-go flatware station near the entrance or food area so guests have everything they need to begin enjoying a meal at their own pace. You can include the Christmas spirit in everything, even your choices in napkins and cups.
Try a Large Grazing Board
For a fun and informal dining experience, try a grazing board full of Christmas delectables or a collection of varying boards with different food themes like charcuterie boards, butter boards, or dessert boards. Grazing boards are a great way to keep guests fed while also keeping the atmosphere casual. A bonus is that grazing boards act as their own decor since they're so beautiful and can make your party menu feel elegant and gourmet.
Make Socializing Easy for Guests
Create an atmosphere that helps guests feel comfortable and free to socialize. Think about the age and family dynamics of each guest so that everyone feels welcome and seen.
Curate Comfortable Socializing Areas
Make sure guests have an area to sit as they dine on the delicious party foods. Try to include tabletop space so they have a place to set their drinks and plates. Have at least one area of the party that's not overpowered by loud music or bright lights so partygoers feel they can engage in quiet conversations or simply take a social breather if needed.
Encourage Conversations and Movement
If many of your guests will be meeting for the first time, have a few conversation starters or icebreakers ready to employ. You can try engaging party games, Christmas-themed questions, or have guests help decorate a Christmas tree or build a gingerbread house. Encourage guests to move through the party with open traffic areas, plenty of music, and seating spread throughout your home.
Keep Kids Entertained
If guests will be bringing little ones, have a few things on hand that will keep them happy and entertained so parents can feel free to mingle. Try adding a few designated spaces where kids can enjoy entertainment just for them:
- Ornament-making station
- Family-friendly Christmas movies
- Kids' cocoa station
- Games and puzzles
- Christmas karaoke station
- Kid-friendly Gingerbread house station
Remember Your Christmas Spirit
What guests will remember most about your Christmas open house party is getting to interact with you. The perk of having a consistent flow of guests is getting the opportunity to connect with everyone throughout the course of the party. Make party preparations as far in advance as you can so you get to enjoy the company of your guests while they enjoy the food, decorations, and entertainment throughout the event.