This is an obvious one, but extremely ESSENTIAL and WON’T be something you want to skip! You don’t want to “wing it” when planning a party!  Proper planning really ensures that you will get to be a guest at your own party and not running around too much during the event to even enjoy it.

Here’s my checklist anytime I sit down and start planning a party:

  • THEME: Choose a theme and stick with it!  This will help guide all your other decisions…and make them easier, as it gives you direction.
  • INVITES: Write out your guest list (or even better, put it in excel!) and decide if you will do printed or digital invitations.  Both options have a place.  I highly recommend printed for more formal occasions or when you really want to set the tone.  We had a wine tasting party a few years back and sent the invites with a wax seal with grapes.  It was a HUGE hit and really got everyone in the right mood for the party!  For smaller, less formal events, the digital option is great and really makes tracking easy.  You can also do a mix, by sending out a printed invite with a QR code for RSVP responses (this is my go to for many events!).  For digital invites, I really love RSVPify.  If you decide to go the printed invitation route, SWAG can design and print the invites for you!  As long as we have an excel file with the guest list, we can even mail them out for you!
  • FOOD: Will you be getting it catered? Making it yourself? Potluck style? Whatever you’re doing, make the phone calls, do the shopping, whatever you have to do to ensure there is enough food to feed your guests. Pro tip: Lean into your theme so it’s easy to pull together a menu. We recommend experimenting with different recipes and ideas for the food, drinks, snacks, desserts and more.


There’s nothing worse than a crowded party where guests have nowhere to spread out and sit!  For larger holiday gatherings, set up a few different areas around the house where guests can mingle, sip and nibble. I like to set up my bar area, kitchen island, dining table and living room area! That way guests can make their way through the spaces depending upon how they’re feeling.  Don’t have a bar area or kitchen island?  Give SWAG a call and we have options to help you set up both.

Once you have your layout planned, determine how many tables, chairs, linens, etc you will need.  Give SWAG a call and we can help you plan how many people best fit at each size table.


Take inventory of your decor. Pull out your party boxes and take stock of what you already have and can use.  Then make a list of what you need to rent!

One of my favorite parts of hosting is setting the table! This is where I can get creative. Plus, it completely elevates the look and feel of the party.  Choose your linen color first.  Then decide if you will add a table runner, center pieces or candles.  Next, design the individual place settings – will there be cloth napkins, chargers, flatware or a name card? If creativity is not your jam, SWAG is happy to customize a tablescape just for you.  Our storage facility looks like Pinterest come to life!

Another important part to setting the mood is music.  Will you use your favorite holiday Pandora station or playlist or maybe you need a DJ.  If you have the tunes but need a way for them to be heard around the house, SWAG has the speaker and microphone set up you need.


Incorporating organized fun and interactive activities into your party can elevate the overall experience and create memorable moments for your guests. Here are some fun ideas for party activities:

  • Themed Costume or Dress-Up: Organize a themed costume party, like the “ugly sweater party.” Encourage guests to dress according to the theme, and you can even have a costume contest with prizes for the best outfits.
  • Photobooth: Rent a photobooth with props and backdrops for guests to take pictures. This is a fantastic way to create lasting memories and provide entertainment.
  • Cookie Decorating: Have a cookie decorating station with various icing colors, sprinkles, and toppings. It’s a fun and creative activity, especially for kids and those with a sweet tooth.
  • Saran Wrap Game: This game involves wrapping prizes in layers of plastic wrap and having guests unwrap them one layer at a time while wearing oven mitts. It’s hilarious and suspenseful.
  • Dance Off: Rent a dance floor and have a dance-off with a variety of music genres. You can even have a dance competition with judges and prizes for the best dancers.
  • Play a Game: Playing games at a holiday party is a fantastic way to bring guests together and create a fun, festive atmosphere.  Here are some popular holiday party games to consider:  white elephant gift exchange, Christmas bingo, yard games, and holiday trivia.


Decide what parts of hosting excite you and what you want to hire others to help with.  Recognizing your strengths and preferences can help you focus your energy on the aspects of hosting that you enjoy the most while delegating or hiring help for the parts you might not excel at or find less enjoyable.  Do you love cooking but have zero creativity?  Hiring someone else to help set the mood, will help you enjoy the event more.  Are you the opposite – love decorating but can’t stand to be in the kitchen?  Then catering is going to be your way to go!  Doing what you enjoy and hiring out the rest will help you be more present and merry at your party.  SWAG does vendor coordination, delivery, set up and more – we are your one stop shop to a stress free holiday event!