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Holiday Party Ideas


There's an art to making a holiday party glamorous without making yourself ragged in the process. SHAPE staffers seem to put on holiday parties effortlessly, so we made it a point to find out how they do it. Turns out all the holiday ideas—from signature cocktails to fancy tablescapes—had one thing in common: These fantastically easy and affordable secrets can make your holiday soiree the most sought-after invite of the season. Go to it (and tell us yours!).

Go bubbly. I keep things simple with a variety of champagnes—only champagne; no whites or reds. It cuts down on the glasses to wash, too!
—Kathy Kuza, Northwest Advertising Director

Use it. If someone gives me a gift for entertaining or the house, I try my best to use it or have it on display for their return visit. I'll serve hors d'oeuvres on the platter they gave me or serve the bottle of wine they brought.
—Jeffrey Drake, Art Director

GIFT IDEAS: The best (last minute) gifts for everyone

Add cards. I have cards for each item I'm serving in front of the dish. This way you don't need to constantly tell every guest what's in each dish, and it just looks really elegant.
—Alice Oglethorpe, Senior Lifestyle Editor

Know when to fold. I always upgrade to cloth napkins and do a fancy fold called the airplane. It dresses up the table without taking up any extra space, which is at a premium with all the food!
—Karen Borsari, Assistant Web Editor

VIDEO: See Karen do the airplane fold and try it before your next holiday party

Decorate with nature. I went to a holiday party where the hostess used four or five pine cones tied with a pretty red ribbon and lined them up down the center of the table, which was covered with a white tablecloth. So simple and pretty!
—Sharon Liao, Senior Health Editor

Save your guests trouble. I try to serve a signature cocktail so that people don't have to mix their own drinks. Basil gimlet, anyone?
—Juno DeMelo, Associate Nutrition Editor

RECIPES: Try one of these festive low calorie alcoholic drink recipes from our Hot, Healthy Bartender

Customize the flowers. I buy flowers from the market (they are cheaper than at a florist), and put them in plastic takeout containers wrapped in metallic tissue paper. It feels so decadent to have "custom" floral arrangements, and because I'm not using glassware, I let guests take them home as a treat!
—Katie Goldsmith, Fashion Director

Fill your home with sound. My favorite holiday party idea is when the host has wireless stereo speakers in each room. Even when you go into the powder room it feels so glamorous!
—John Oldakowski, Midwest Manager

Get fresh. I use seasonal fruit as decoration. A carefully arranged bowl of grapefruits or pomegranates looks as gorgeous as a vase of flowers (and you get to eat your decorations afterward).
—Trisha Calvo, Executive Editor

POMEGRANATES: Turn your centerpiece into an appetizer, entrée or side

Add a splash. My aunt puts pomegranate seeds in all the champagne flutes for a festive splash of color.
—Karen Borsari, Assistant Web Editor


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