Christmas is approaching, so time to plan your holiday party! This time of year can be stressful, but your party planning doesn’t have to be — we’re here to help. This Christmas party planning checklist guides you through the process, ensuring you have all the essentials: tasty food and drinks, lively music, and eye-catching decorations. Read on to learn how to plan an unforgettable Christmas party.

Table of Contents

The initial planning phase

1 week before your party

1-2 days before your party

Party time!

Plan your Christmas party well in advance

Last-minute party planning is stressful, so don’t delay getting started. Planning a Christmas party should begin in the fall, so you have time to secure a venue and book vendors before their schedules fill up.

1. Set your time and date

Before making big decisions, consider your attendees and choose a time and date that works best for them. A daytime Christmas party is perfect for younger children needing to go to bed early or older people wanting to get home, but not for college students and young adults. Timing is critical — it sets the tone for your event and establishes if it’s family-friendly or adult-only.

Start by checking what’s happening around your preferred date and be flexible. By keeping an eye on social media and speaking to people from your target audience, you can avoid dates when people are booked up. It’s better to change your date at this stage than to clash with another event. Choosing an earlier December date gets you ahead of the game and means you’ll have a broader range of venues to choose from.

2. Choose your venue

This should be one of the first considerations as you begin planning your Christmas party, as venues will book early. Need a stage for live music? An open space for a dance floor?

Also, consider what size space you need. Before you book a venue, you’ll need an estimated guest list to ensure the venue has capacity. You don’t want people to feel squeezed in, or too big a space for the size of your crowd.

Here are a few questions to keep in mind as you explore potential venues:

  • What dates and times are available?
  • Does the venue’s size meet your needs?
  • Is there a sound system or DJ?
  • Can the venue accommodate people with disabilities?
  • What is the cost per head?
  • What are the terms and conditions of booking?
  • Is parking available?
  • Are there catering and bar facilities on site?

3. Decide on a Christmas party theme

Choosing a theme for your Christmas party generates excitement. A theme also helps focus your event planning and inspire your invitations, marketing materials, decorations, and entertainment.

Consider these Christmas party themes as your plan your event:

  • Traditional Christmas — this is all about festive favourites: the smell of mulled wine and classic Christmas tunes
  • Winter wonderland — think icy decor with everything in silver and white, glistening in the candlelight
  • Christmas jumper and PJs party — dig out those festive sweaters or cosy pyjamas
  • Favourite Christmas character — ask people to come as their favourite holiday character. Expect Santa, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, and The Grinch. Who will win best-dressed guest?
  • Red and gold party — sophisticated occasion on the cards? Ask guests to dress up and decorate the venue accordingly
  • Cookies and cocoa party — design your theme about this and serve up those sweet treats
  • Oh, Christmas tree — let the Christmas trees, twinkling lights, and sparkling ornaments take centre stage. How about sending guests home with a keepsake ornament?
  • Plaid party — incorporate this colourful Christmas pattern into decorations and table linens. Bonus points for guests in plaid!

4. How do you organise a kids’ Christmas party?

Keep it simple, from the food to decorations and entertainment. Think about the kids’ age range as you design activities they’ll enjoy. For younger ones, think games like musical chairs. And for older kids? Plan a Christmas-themed scavenger hunt. Holiday crafts are popular with children of all ages. Ensure your venue has plenty of space for running around, too!

5. Set your budget

Even if your budget is restrictive, it doesn’t mean guests can’t have a great time. First, decide whether you’ll sell tickets to your event to help cover costs. Details on ticketing will come later in this guide.

Food and beverages

Food and beverage can be a big part of your budget, so consider your options carefully. What type of service will you offer? Plated meals, buffets, and passed appetizers all come at different price points. If you have less to spend, invite local food trucks for guests to purchase meals. A festive, alcohol-free event can reduce costs. Why not try a BYO dinner if you’ve got a smaller budget?

Talk to your venue about vendors. Some provide food and drink services on-site and may insist you use their in-house caterers. Others require you to book your own. If so, all the more reason to start planning early.

Decorations for your Christmas party

Decorations add to the event’s ambience and excitement — but they come at a price. Do you want to DIY your décor, hire professionals, or use a combination? If you opt to do it yourself, organise a design committee and involve the kids in decorating. Use your theme as inspiration for the colours and patterns of your Christmas party decorations. Plan ahead for items that need securing through a vendor, such as lighting.

6. Christmas party games and entertainment

Organised activities create a smooth event and encourage interaction between guests. Align your games and entertainment with your party’s theme. Consider these party games and activities:

  • Musical chairs
  • Musical statues
  • Charades
  • Stuff a Christmas stocking
  • Christmas Pictionary
  • Pin the tail on the reindeer
  • Christmas wrapping relay
  • Christmas treasure hunt
  • Bingo

Christmas entertainment

  • Karaoke
  • Photo booth
  • Children’s entertainer
  • Comedian
  • DJ
  • Live band
  • Magician
  • Santa’s grotto
  • Gingerbread house decorating
  • Christmas card crafts
  • Decorate the tree
  • Kids’ corner with Santa
  • Christmas film

If you opt for professional entertainers, book them early — their holiday season schedules fill quickly.

7. Will there be a gift exchange?

Gifts are a major part of the Christmas season but aren’t necessarily expected at a holiday party. However, a gift exchange generates goodwill and can add humor to an event.

One option is a Secret Santa exchange. Guests draw names before the event and purchase a gift for the person they draw. This works best when all the guests know each other. Another option? A White Elephant exchange. Each guest brings one gift to the party, but they don’t know who will receive it. White Elephant gifts are often silly, reasonably priced gifts that add fun to the party. No matter what type of gift exchange you do, set a price range. This keeps it equitable and makes guests more comfortable.

8. Inviting your guests

You’ve booked the venue and chosen the theme. Now it’s time to invite guests. After all, it’s not a party without a crowd. Here are some tips on inviting your guests.

Design your invitations

With the theme now set, the invitation design should follow. An on-theme design will clue guests into the spirit of your Christmas party. Include key details: date and time, location, RSVP information, dress code, and ticket price (if applicable). Share information about transportation and parking, and include any gift exchange details. Don’t forget to ask about dietary restrictions if you’re serving food.

Create a guest list

Are you inviting adults only, kids only, or both? Should adult guests be encouraged to bring a guest? Send your invitations out at least 6 weeks in advance.

Send your invites

The next step on your Christmas party checklist is to send your invitations. You can use Eventbrite to create online invitations to share key event details. Invitations can feature your design choice and be delivered right to potential attendees’ inboxes. Use Eventbrite Boost to create your guest list and keep track of who’s opened your email.

Charging for your Christmas party tickets

Now’s time to determine if you want to charge for your Christmas party tickets. Consider your price point and what the ticket includes. For example, guests can purchase tickets for dinner, drinks, or entertainment like a live band. Highlight these benefits to increase ticket sales. Another option is offering group tickets, such as a flat fee to book a table at a plated dinner party.

1 week before your Christmas party

Reach out to guests and vendors and complete these key tasks:

  • Confirm final headcount and inform the venue, caterer, and other vendors
  • Send a reminder with key details, such as timing and parking
  • Finalize the menu with your caterer
  • Confirm entertainment and make sure lighting, A/V equipment, and other technology are in place
  • Get decorations and supplies for games or entertainment.
  • Walk through the venue to finalize the vision for your Christmas party and identify any needs

1-2 days before your Christmas party

It’s almost the big day — time to build excitement and focus on the event details. These tasks will help you stay on track.

  • Send out an event reminder/email to create excitement. Offer guests any last-minute info they need to know
  • Head to the venue for pre-event setup. Execute your vision with seating, lighting, and decorations
  • Purchase/pick up any food or drink supplies that won’t be provided. Make sure you have enough for all guests
  • Set up the essentials. You can set up items such as trash cans, dinnerware, drinkware, and cutlery in advance to save time on the event day

Party time!

Arrive early on the day to ensure the venue is ready. As the host, greet attendees and provide them with any specific information they need. Work with vendors to keep the party on schedule.

Enjoy the gift of Christmas party marketing

Don’t let the hard work go to waste; start promoting your event as soon as possible. Have a two or three-month lead time to build interest across social media. If you have an email list, use that as your starting point and reach out to potential guests via email. Eventbrite has plenty of marketing tools to get you started. First up, Eventbrite Boost: an all-in-one event management platform that helps organize and promote in-person, virtual, and hybrid events.

Now you have all the tips up your sleeve for how to plan a Christmas party, refer back to this guide at each stage. Feeling inspired? Find out how Eventbrite can help get that festive party started.