Your Holiday Party Planning Guide

Just because you’ve decided to host your holiday party at home, doesn’t mean you can’t “wow” your guests with an awesome menu, creative cocktails and beautiful décor. From Christmas lunches to New Years Eve dinners, there are so many options for festive parties for you to host.

Set the right atmosphere for you event by making sure the décor in your home is in line with the holiday theme. The new holiday collection from Artemano has an assortment of modern furniture pieces that are function but also warm and inviting items that perfect for holiday hosting. Decorate the timeless pieces with holiday items to bring in that seasonal atmosphere into your home.
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Natalie Ho, Manager of Event Sales at Oliver & Bonacini Events, has come up with these great ideas to take your party to the next level with these out of the box ideas! According to Natalie, if you really want to really wow your guests this year; send them a small questionnaire in advance. Find out, what are their favourite drinks, and foods? Find a way to surprise them throughout the night with the offering, or make sure that when they arrive onsite you have their cocktail ready and waiting. This will make your party one to not be missed in future! To ensure all of your guests are having a great time, try setting up interactive and fun activities throughout the evening! Here are some ideas that you could try this year!

“Family Photo” Vignettes

Create an area for your guests to take images throughout the evening by using holiday props, that you may have around the house! Vintage sleds, faux taxidermy, Christmas lights & blankets, all make for a fun setting. You could even set this photo booth outside to allow for a winter photo experience in the snow! Share them on Instagram with a #hashtag for your party and share all of the memories with your friends!

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Holiday Themed Karaoke

We’re seeing karaoke as a concept make a big comeback in the world of events, and after a festive cocktail, its great fun! Karaoke can be inexpensive – by either using YouTube, or your TV to get it ready to go. Give your guests a heads up that it may be happening and see where the night takes you. The opportunity for entertainment post dinner is great to have in your back pocket. No one can resist belting out “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey over the holidays so why not try mixing it up with fun festive classics!

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Holiday Take Aways

A DIY gift is always impressive as a host – try bottling a fresh apple cider – and attaching a satchel of mulling ingredients like cinnamon, star anise, cloves etc. Or, bottle some milk with a satchel of fine hot chocolate, for your guests to enjoy when they get home. The thoughtful host always considers allergies, so don’t forget a batch of soy or almond milk for your dairy free guests.

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Develop a stress free menu for you and your guests to enjoy. Toronto-based restaurant The Harbord Room’s Cory Vitiello has created a seamless menu, from start to finish, that will keep your guest happy and full all evening long! According to Cory, the key to surviving the holidays is to “try to go outside the box and create a menu that’s fun, but most importantly is fairly simple to execute and manageable, so you’re not bogging yourself down in the kitchen”. Here are Cory’s suggestions for a perfect festive party spread!

Appetizer: Grilled baguette slices – either toast or grill slices of baguette, then rub with olive oil and garlic. Top with thinly shaved prosciutto, ricotta cheese, lemon zest & chillies. This makes a great starter as guests arrive – easy and quick to put together and can be prepared in advance.

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First Course: Festive pasta – I love the idea of serving a festive pasta for the holidays. Think big winter flavours like rigatoni, rapini, white beans, roasted squash, sausage, sage, rosemary and chunks of fiore di latte.

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Main Course: Baked Delicatta or Acorn squash stuffed with roasted turkey leg, cheddar cheese, kale, pumpkin seeds….you get the picture…think a stuffed baked potato but literally your entire holiday dinner layered in there and topped with cranberries and gravy.

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Dessert: I prefer to keep this light and vibrant – vanilla ice cream or a fruity sorbet, topped with crushed candy canes, high quality chocolate (Valrhona Manjari is my favourite), and a few ginger snaps placed on top for that extra holiday feel.

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Looking to become a world-class mixologist this holiday season? Natalie Ho from Oliver & Bonacini Events recommends creating a bar for the evening with a variety of scotches. Purchase a few different types of scotch for your guests to enjoy before or after dinner. Create a “bar cart” that allows for self service. Some of the elements you can consider to include: crystal decanters, old fashion spritzer, ice cubes and tasting notes.

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Shake things up with a delicious wine from Pearl Morissette. From Chardonnay to Pinot Noir, Gamay and their renowned Cabernet Francs, there is something in their portfolio that will pair perfectly with your menu!

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Need some creative cocktail ideas? Here are my favourite seasonal drinks from East Thirty-Six, The Harbord Room and Enoteca Sociale for you to try out at home!

St. Germain - East Thirty Six
Fairytale of New York - The Harbord Room
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