We’ll Be Queer For Christmas: How To Host Your First Holiday Party

We’ll Be Queer For Christmas: How To Host Your First Holiday Party

By Sondra Morris

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Now that Halloween’s haunted houses and quirky costumes are cleared away until next October 2018’s holiday season is officially here. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are not far behind. For some of us, this means hosting our first big holiday celebration! Whether you love party planning or don’t know where to start,  pulling off your first holigay–errr, holiday–can be wildly exciting and a little daunting, so here’s a five-point checklist to guide you to success.

1. Figure out who you want to be there

Holiday parties typically go one of two ways: exclusively close friends and family or the more the merrier. Deciding what vibe you’re aiming for from the beginning makes every other aspect of planning easier. Maybe it’s been a rough year and you want quality time with your family, lover(s), and friends. Conversely, you might be anxious to let loose and meet all the individuals your crew loves most, in which case you allow for endless plus ones. Because it’s your celebration, don’t feel pressured to include people you don’t want to: family can be blood, found, or chosen and all three types of family are equally valid. You want to have a good time, so make sure your guest list prioritizes your happiness.

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2. Go big or keep it simple with invitations            & decorations      

How you decide to let everyone know you’re throwing a holiday bash is completely up to you. Maybe you and your crew run a daily email or text chain and you can check everyone off your list by simply mentioning it in your daily communication. Personally, I’m a fan of the RSVP (it makes it easier to plan accommodations and food) so I tend to issue invitations via Evite, Paperless Post, or Facebook. If you like pretty things, the former two sites let you design your invitation so you can really dive into a theme and get creative.

Decorations are truly optional. If you want to keep it low-key, a few garlands and a candle or two from the dollar store go a long way to add a festive touch. People know what they’re coming to the party for, so whether you deck the whole place out like a winter wonderland or don’t so much as plug in a twinkle light, the celebration will go on.

3. Make space

For a holiday celebration, you may have more people in your home than you typically do. Where are you going to sit them all? You could pack everyone in and rent or borrow chairs. I’ve had a blast at parties where we all sat on pillows. If your apartment is too small to accommodate everyone, maybe you take it elsewhere: does your apartment or neighborhood have a community room you can use? How about a park? Depending on what part of the country you’re in, it may be warm enough to make this shindig a picnic. Another option is to collaborate with a friend: maybe you are dying to host a party, but they have the space needed to do so. If you plan it out, can you use their home? Think outside of the box to find your perfect fit. ***If you’re serving alcohol or indulging in other substances at your party, plan to have a few people crash on your couch or bedroom floor. If Ubers and Lyfts are–for whatever reason–unavailable, have a stash of clean blankets ready to go just in case.***

4. Prepare the meal

This is typically the most expensive and stressful part of hosting a party, but it doesn’t have to be. You have a few ways to keep this inexpensive and free of kitchen meltdowns. One of my favorite Thanksgivings was a friend of a friend’s queer potluck in the Hollywood Hills a few years back. The attendees were diverse and everyone brought the dish they made best: everything was delicious! If you go this route, I advise keeping a note on your phone of who’s bringing what so you don’t end up with five green bean casseroles. Also, assure that one friend who doesn’t cook that they can contribute by bringing drinks, paper plates, plastic silverware, napkins, or ice.

If you’re someone who loves to cook, you can still prepare a big meal on a budget: just have attendees Venmo you a few bucks when they RSVP. $5-$10 per person adds up quickly. If nobody in your group wants to cook, have everyone chip in for delivery. Pizza or Chinese Food Restaurants are typically open when everything else is closed, and this way no one has to look up recipes on Pinterest or clean up a messy kitchen. Just remind your guests to bring cash or download Venmo before the big day.

You might also let people know if they should plan to bring their own drinks. If you’re working on a budget, this saves a bunch! Another option is to put drinks down as a potluck item that needs to be provided or to include them in the chip-in amount.

Whatever you decide, paper plates, disposable cups, and plastic utensils can save you hours in clean up. Keep it cheap by picking them up at the dollar store or spend a few bucks more to buy disposables that fit into your decorative theme. Also, don’t forget to prepare or purchase lots of ice for drinks!

5. Make Your Own Traditions

Some holidays come with a lot of their own traditions, in which case you don’t need to think about this as much. When possible, I find that personalized traditions tend to add to the festivities and they can be incredibly diverse: I’ve seen tree naming at a Thanksgiving party, lost year after year as we all played the same board game after holiday dinner, joined friends for Christmas morning at IHOP, and taken a break from festivities for a quick movie at the mall with my core crew. If nothing comes to mind or feels natural, don’t force it. Some of the best traditions develop naturally, so just let the day play itself out.

There’s no right or wrong way to throw a holiday party: the options are endless! Holidays can be personalized whatever your situation and they don’t have to follow any sort of specific template. Make the celebration yours, call on your friends and family for help, and above all, have a great time!

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