Mimi Major Bittick, of The Major Event, joins us today to share some timely tips on how to throw a stress-free holiday party. Welcome, Mimi! 

I have always loved to entertain. The summer I went off to college, I hosted a dinner party at my mother’s home and made all of my friends dress up … definitely not your typical end-of-summer keg party. I still love to host parties, and when I do, I try to make them as stress-free and fun as possible. Today, I’m sharing a few helpful hints, so you can do the same!

Floating candles create instant ambiance.

Floating candles create instant ambiance.

Menu planning

Whether you plan to cook everything yourself or have your affair catered, the menu is an integral part in the ease and success of any party. It’s always important to choose items you can make ahead of time; after all, you’ll need to have time for that blowout at Tonya Jones before the party!  I also think it is OK to “cheat” on dessert and buy yummy items from a local bakery. Let’s face it, many people don’t eat dessert, and unless you’re a pastry chef, a really good dessert is hard to make!

If you are having your event catered, it is still nice to use your own serving pieces and platters. When I am having a catered event, I place all of my platters where I want them on the table and put sticky notes with the items I intend for each one. This is a time-saver, and it usually means you can open the door for the caterer and let them get to work. I also use the “two bite” rule when planning a cocktail party. People do not want to have their mouths full when they are chatting with friends, so make sure you serve items that are easy to eat and not too messy! If you are not sure about caterers, I suggest starting with your favorite restaurant. Often restaurants cater, and we don’t even realize it! For example, FoodBar has created a great holiday party menu for catering!

Ambiance

I LOVE flowers and decorations, but I also know that the cost of decorating for a party can quickly add up. That said, there are a lot of ways to “cheat” in the décor department. Top of the list? Candles, candles, candles! You can cover your home with votive candles, dim the lights and you have instantly created a festive feeling.

Also, you don’t have to deck the halls to have an elegant look. A beautiful Christmas tree, mantel decoration or table arrangement can be your focal point. However, Birmingham is full of super-talented floral designers and decorators! I have too many favorites to list, so if you do want to deck the halls, most florists can be hired to decorate your home for the holidays. You just need to find someone who has a style that matches your taste!

Sometimes the simplest arrangements are the most stunning.

Sometimes the simplest arrangements are the most stunning.

Party flow

There is nothing worse than walking into a party and getting stuck at the front door. I think having your party flow well is one of the most important elements to successful entertaining. To ensure people can move around, place the bar in a room with multiple entrances and exits. You also need to put it in a larger area, since people tend to congregate around the bar. I suggest having drink stations set up as well, perhaps an area with just beer and wine where guests can serve themselves. The same goes for the food: make sure you don’t put all of the food in one place.

Candles, flowers and simple food are really all you need to host a fabulous soiree. Having several food and drink areas around creates flow.

Candles, flowers and simple food are really all you need to host a fabulous soirée. Having several food and drink areas around your home creates a good flow.

Rent, rent, rent

I have a lot of nice china and crystal, but if I am hosting a party for more than 30 people I rent everything! It is so nice to rack those glasses up after the party, stick them on my front porch and forget about them. It doesn’t cost that much, and you save yourself a lot of hassle and headache! There are a lot of great rental companies to choose from in Birmingham, but I usually go with Event Rentals Unlimited. They deliver, or you can save money and pick up the rentals from them.

Hire a helper

This is a piece of advice I consider a must! Hire someone to help you that evening! Whether you find a college student who’s home for the holidays or a professional server/bartender, you need to have an extra hand so you can enjoy the party! This person (or persons) should come early to set out the food, replenish the buffet, restock the bar and, most importantly, help you clean up. There is no point in hosting a party if you spend the night running around and not enjoying your guests.

SB Tip: If you really want to wow your guests, hire a mixologist from The Bar Hops.

Create a beverage station so guests can serve themselves, making things easier on the host.

Create a beverage station, so guests can serve themselves, making things easier on the host.

My most important piece of advice? Don’t sweat the small stuff! Even if something is not exactly as you planned, it’s pretty safe to assume that no one will notice. Enjoy your party, and your guests will follow suit! 

Thanks for this great party planning advice, Mimi! To find out more about Mimi and her event planning firm, The Major Event, visit themajorevent.com.

Mimi has been planning major events for

Mimi has been planning major events for more than 14 years.

All images are courtesy of The Major Event.

Share with your friends!