9 Tasks to Complete Before Hosting a Holiday Party

According to a professional

Hosting holiday company with presents and cookies.

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Hosting a holiday party or event can be hugely rewarding—but it can also be extremely overwhelming. Ahead of the most festive and fun season, we talked to Imane Fiocchi, founder of the Neon Lace Company, on her top tips for holiday hosting prep.

And spoiler alert? There are things you can do today that will help you later. Read on for a professional's tips on tasks to complete before hosting company during the holidays.

Meet the Expert

Imane Fiocchi is the founder of the Neon Lace Company, a specialty store for all things textiles, antiques, and home entertaining.

  • 01 of 09

    Prep Your Guest List

    Writing Christmas invitations.

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    If you’re already looking at your calendar and marking off dates for your holiday soiree, Fiocchi tells us there’s one thing you can definitely get a head start on. “First and foremost: compile guest lists and guest counts,” she says. 

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  • 02 of 09

    Use Your Guest List to Pre-Plan Your Menu

    Winter table with wine and bread.

    Emily Henderson Design

    Once your guest list is finalized (or at least outlined), then it’s time to make sure you have all the critical information about your guests. “Find out if anyone has allergies or dietary requirements, and use this information to gather ideas for the menu and a signature cocktail or mocktails,” Fiocchi says.

    From there, decide how you want food arranged and served. If you're serving more than passed hors d'oeuvres, Fiocchi notes that there are plenty of meal options.

    "Buffet style, family style, or sit down?" Fiocchi suggests asking yourself. "Next, consider how you want your guests to flow through your home.” This will help determine if the meal will be entirely seated or not.

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  • 03 of 09

    Map Out Your Decor

    Christmas table settings

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Once you have an idea of how you’ll serve your food and drinks, Fiocchi says it’s time to start thinking about where you'll serve it—and namely, the decor involved. “Brainstorm a vibe for tablescapes and select a color theme," she advises. "Shop or choose table linens, dinnerware, and server ware."

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  • 04 of 09

    Consider Your Special Touches

    Baking Christmas cookies.

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Once your food is planned out, Fiocchi says you can start focusing on the smaller details. A special detail she loves is to leave a "goodie" for guests on their place setting that they can take home. This definitely requires some advanced planning but is worth it to make guests feel special.

    “My mom always baked gingerbread men for her guests’ place settings with their names handwritten on them," Fiocchi shares. "Embroidered linens also offer a personalized touch."


    Paper crackers are also a fun icebreaker and a way for guests to interact with one another. You can purchase them almost anywhere during the holidays, but Fiocchi suggestions DIYing your own with personalized favors inside.

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  • 05 of 09

    Prepare Food Shopping Lists

    Writing a grocery list.

    Getty Images / Anna Kurzaeva

    One week before your guests arrive, Fiocchi says it’s time to prepare a shopping list for meals, purchase dry goods and non-perishables, and set out and organize dinnerware. "I also like to pre-style my table in advance and play around with tablescapes,” she notes.  

    Then, the night before your event, Fiocchi says it’s officially time to finalize lighting and set the table. The show is about to begin!

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  • 06 of 09

    Tidy Up—and Don’t Forget the Bedrooms

    Modern tidy living room with holiday wreaths.

    The Spruce / Christopher Lee Photo

    As you clean your home before the party, even if you’re not expecting overnight guests, don’t assume any room is off-limits. “You never know if a guest needs a moment of privacy,” Fiocchi tells us.

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  • 07 of 09

    Clean Out the Coat Closet

    Coat closet organized with bag hooks, wire shelves and shoe bench

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

    Whether you have a dedicated coat closet or not, Fiocchi says you should also plan ahead for where to direct your guests upon arrival. “Make sure there is plenty of room for guests’ coats and belongings,” she tells us.

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  • 08 of 09

    Buy Your Flowers


    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Fiocchi tells us that she buys her flowers ahead of the big day, but she saves the final arrangements for the morning of the party. “I shop for flowers in advance, but I like to assemble flower arrangements the day of, as I find it a relaxing activity before guests arrive,” Fiocchi says. 

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  • 09 of 09

    Prep the Easy Food Early

    Christmas appetizer spread.

    Getty Images / MelanieMaya

    The night before the event, Fiocchi advises prepping any food you can, especially anything you'll need for the start of the party.

    “Sometimes everyone arrives at the same time, so I like to prepare and assemble easy hors d’oeuvres—such as cheese boards and crudité—and refrigerate the night before,” she tells us. “It’s effortless to pull out when guests arrive.”

After that, the only thing left on the list? Enjoy!