Every year we go through the cycle of holidays together, and every year we find ourselves invited to different Christmas events: dinner parties, work parties, big family gatherings, holiday bashes with our friends, maybe even the occasional secret Santa reveal party. Each year we get the invites, and then the anxiety sets in.
What should I bring to a Christmas party? Something simple, but thoughtful. The big three answers are essentially the same for all of us: food, wine, and presents. These are the age old answers to the age old question.
Seems simple enough, right? Except for the fact that it isn’t always that simple, and deciding on the perfect addition to a holiday party can be anxiety inducing.
This is a quick and helpful guide created for Christmas party goers everywhere. These ideas will at the very least help kick start your holiday season shopping brain and get you ready to enjoy the yuletide fun, taking the stress out of deciding what the best Christmas party items will be.
What To Bring To a Christmas Party
The biggest strain during the holiday season is planning ahead for all the festivities. We get caught up in our responsibilities and the stress can be, frankly, crazy. There are all sorts of things to consider when we organize our brains for all the parties, cooking, and gift buying we have ahead of us.
Sometimes the planning process can leave you pulling your hair out. Thankfully, there are simple answers to the big question “What should I bring?”, and they go a little something like this:
Easy! Except for it isn’t always so easy. The biggest point of interest when it comes to deciding on what to bring comes in the details.
We know that there will be food, maybe even a potluck where everyone brings a little something to add to the overall party vibe, but deciding on the right food can be harder than you think.
So let’s come right out and say it: we don’t need the fruit cake. The running social commentary has resonated forever on this fact. Its quirky, even comical to bring a fruit cake to a party, and if that’s the vibe you’re trying to bring to the table, then go forth and prosper, but the chances of that fruit cake being eaten is probably slim to none.
Instead of leaving the other party goers with furrowed brows, consider who will be at the party. After you get a good sense of who will be enjoying the festivities along with you, research some recipes and throw a little elbow into your kitchen routine.
Making something yourself for a Christmas party adds a touch of thoughtfulness that will be appreciated.
The size of your party is also something to take into account. Making food for 10 people is simple enough, but making food for 20-50 people or more can become a struggle. Keeping things simple will always keep your head above the water, and it’ll make your experience while you set out on the cooking adventure a little more fun.
Making bite sized food is the best way to keep the creativity flowing in the kitchen and not bring you down the rabbit hole of stress. Think more along the line of hors d’oeuvres rather than whole honey glazed ham.
Simple dishes like small slices of toasted baguette with goat cheese and cranberry sauce will go a long way.
Sweets are also always welcome. Someone is bound to chide you for helping them put on the holiday weight, but the truth is that everyone enjoys taking a ride on the sweet tooth side for a little bit during the cold winter months. Baking is always a fun adventure, and making desserts everyone will love will keep up your holiday cheer.
We all know that food is the way into a person’s heart. Bringing along a savory dip with some nice crackers or a pie that you didn’t buy at the store will make you a party favorite and keep the celebrations moving along, all the while ensuring that you have a great time without breaking your back or your bank account.
Wine is also a good way to spread the holiday cheer. Selecting a good bottle of wine can be a daunting task, therefore you should always make a point of asking the attendants at the wine stores for their expert opinions. As a rule of thumb, the simpler and more palatable, the better.
Sticking to the classics will never lead you astray. During the winter months, the most likely ally that you have in the world of wine will always be the reds. A good merlot, cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir will always be appreciated. Exploring new wines can be very exciting, but something like a Bordeaux may be too experimental for a party.
Wine will always be perfect for a party, it’s classy and maybe just a little bit sassy. Bringing a bottle of liquor to a Christmas party, particularly work parties, may be a strong move and it isn’t suggested.
Making sure that everyone has a great time without going overboard will keep the retellings tame and interesting in the best way.
That being said, gifting a bottle to your host of their favorite liquor as a thank you is a great idea. It’s a wonderful way to show appreciation, and they’ll be able to enjoy it long after the Christmas party has come to an end.
Deciding if bringing presents for other individuals at the party can be its own stressor. Ask your host before you arrive if there will be a gift exchange or if bringing personal gifts is a good idea. As long as gift giving at the party is ok, bringing your gift along for a favorite party goer usually goes over well. If not, you can always do it later!
Festive Dishes To Bring For a Potluck Christmas Party
There are Christmas parties that require a bit more effort from its party goers, and that may mean that your Christmas party dish needs to be kicked up a notch. There are a few great ideas for shareable dishes that have a festive touch that won’t take a lot of prepping.
When considering what festive dish to bring to a Christmas party, it is important that you do not sacrifice quality for kitschy ideas.
Making a dish that looks fun and tastes great is totally possible. A few ideas to consider would be:
- A dip shaped like a Christmas tree
- A dessert made with Christmas colors
- Pigs in a Blanket wreath
Taking some of your favorite ingredients like cream cheese or goat cheese, parmesan and herbs to make into a delicious dip is easy to do. Gathering the ingredients and making the dish doesn’t take long, and it’s a delicious addition to any Christmas party setting.
A great way to make your dish stand out is to make the dip a little firmer by chilling it. Shape the dip into a cone shape using some wax paper to minimize messes. Roll the cone-shaped dip in cilantro or parsley, making it leafy, green and tree-like. Stand it on a serving platter with your favorite crackers and it is bound to be a party hit.
Another sweet idea would be making a dessert that uses classic Christmas colors. Perfect examples would be Christmas tree cupcakes or a cookie bar decorated with green and red M&Ms that give the tasty treat a distinct Christmas feel. A little secret that will add some festive flair to any dessert is to use red and green sprinkles!
For a more savory treat that is classic but cute, make pigs in a blanket and serve them on a round serving try in a circular shape. Add some sprigs of rosemary in the shape of a wreath around the pigs in a blanket, then add your favorite dipping sauce in the center. It’s a fun and simple way to turn this classic party dish into a yummy Christmas wreath!
Should I Bring a Gift To a Holiday Party?
Everyone loves the giving and receiving parts of Christmas gifts. Putting a smile on someone’s face is one of the greatest feelings in the world. A Christmas party seems like the perfect place to do just that, but it doesn’t mean that every host wants to have a gift exchange during the festivities.
It is important to ask your host before the party begins if they are having a gift exchange.
Bringing a gift for your host is a kind gesture that shouldn’t require permission, but a group exchange may be unwelcome, so always ask beforehand. Respecting the hosts wishes will help avoid any awkwardness that could arise.
Some things to keep in mind before arriving at your party are:
- Is the gift easy to carry?
- Is the gift appropriate for the setting?
- Is the gift going to be messy or noisy?
If the host is comfortable with a gift exchange, make sure to only bring smaller items that are easy for the recipient to carry home. Unexpectedly having to lug a giant box around isn’t something anyone wants to do, so be mindful of this before arriving with a large item.
Make sure that your gift isn’t obstructive or annoying to have in the party space. Simple gifts for a few friends or the person hosting the party are a sweet reminder that you care about the person receiving your present.
As long as it’s social Christmas gathering and you haven’t brought along a wild item, you can give your gifts with confidence.
Remember that nobody likes to clean up unnecessary messes or be distracted by something noisy. Things like glitter are great, but they are messy and can be a nuisance to clean. If the party is held in someone’s home or a rented space, this might not be a great time to give messy gifts.
Noisy items like kids toys might take away from the fun everyone is having, so make sure these gifts are given privately or to the child’s parents who will take them home and have them opened later.
Take the time to ask your host important questions before arriving at any holiday party. Use these reminders to help keep you in tip-top shape during the holiday party circuit and ensure you’ll be invited again next year!