From caroling parties to tree-decking festivities, movie marathons to ugly sweater mixers and Christmas pajamas, potlucks to present-wrapping fetes, the winter months are chock full of celebration potential. No matter your theme, your locale or your guest list, we know one thing for certain: You want to create a seriously stylish, seriously seasonal shindig.
In a word, you want to keep it cozy.
Ask and ye shall receive! We channeled our inner hostess with the mostess to create the best-ever guide to the coziest, classiest party of the year.
Set the tone.
Build anticipation for your party at the very beginning. Your invite—even if it’s a casual text rather than a more formal SASE affair—can evoke the entire mood with a few choice words.
If you want to keep it relaxed and comfortable, instruct invitees to don their cutest socks.
If you want to emphasize an upscale atmosphere, ask them to bring a bottle of their favorite bubbly along with their best-dressed selves.
If you want an après ski sensibility, tell them to dress for a post-slopes dinner. Perfectly wind-blown hair is a must, naturally.
If you want a hip, downtown vibe, suggest some brews and dancin’ shoes (craft IPAs and local eats only).
If you’re feeling witchy, ask them to dress for the dark side of the moon. Crystals recommended but not required.
Retune your party playlist.
Queueing up some holly-jolly classics is a little too on the nose to be considered “chic.” This year, think: holiday-adjacent when it comes to music.
Brainstorm a playlist inspired by the emotions of the holidays, like joy, gratitude or Blue Christmas-style angst. Or, think seasonally with songs that evoke coldness, hibernation or new beginnings. Thanks to its curated playlists and search feature, Spotify makes it easy to discover songs with similar sounds or themes. Spend an afternoon rocking out as you pick a few hours’ worth of tunes.
Mix and match.
Sure, your guests’ cutest clothes might be the height of chic, but there’s nothing cozy about standing up all night because there aren’t enough spots for everyone to sit down.
Now’s not the time to fret over your perfectly balanced living room. Now is the time to draft some reinforcements. Bring in chairs and cushions from all over the house. Scatter blankets all over and encourage your pals to wrap themselves up in them (but make sure they’re clean, okay? Not everyone wants to be covered in cat hair). Layer rugs across the floor. There’s something cozy about a little crowd, don’t you think?
Gather ’round the fire.
What’s more wintry than a roaring fire? Maybe Frosty the Snowman, but we hear his schedule is pretty booked up these days.
To take your fireplace to the next level of cozy—and keep it safe even among your booziest friends—install a custom tempered glass fireplace door. Unlike a screen (or a completely open hearth), it’ll keep ash and stray sparks out of your party space. That means it’ll radiate warmth you can cuddle up to. Arrange a few chairs or poufs in a semicircle around it, and you’ve created a new hang-out space that we’re sure will be in-demand with your in-crowd.
Slow cooker sips.
Signature cocktails and champagne toasts are all well and good, but how about a beverage that’s a little less expected and still entirely welcome at a winter party?
When we think cozy, we think hot chocolate. Or coffee. Or cider. All three can be kept warm (or even piping hot) in a slow cooker pot. Toss in the ingredients, plug that puppy in and stir it up every so often. You’ll have a different sort of punch bowl that your guests will rave about.
Light it up.
The easiest way to make your party merry-and-bright is to shine just the right kind of light. Pick your lighting scheme according to the vibe you want your party to have.
Classy? Choose a mix of flattering interior lights and candles.
Snowbound cabin? Let a fire and candles be your main lighting sources.
Bohemian? Swap some of your white light bulbs with colored bulbs.
Low-key? String up some high-end twinkle or bistro lights.
Say “no” to Heat Miser mayhem.
Remember, you’re going for “cozy,” not “sauna.” You need to be on top of climate control, especially when you’re balancing lots of guests, a fire in the grate, candles and cooking appliances.
One easy way to keep your party space feeling warm without getting stuffy is to turn on a ceiling fan. It won’t change the temperature in the room, but it’ll keep the air moving, which might be enough to keep your friends comfortable.
If you want a set-it-and-forget-it option, consider upgrading your thermostat to a smart home system that allows for complete climate control.
Dial up the nostalgia.
For many of us, the holidays take us back—way, way back. Back when ugly Christmas sweaters weren’t worn ironically, and we snapped photos on original Polaroid cameras.
Bring a little corny sincerity to your bash with some nods to yesteryear. Pass around an Instax camera or even a disposable if you can get your hands on one. Pull out the board games you fought with your siblings over. Play Never Have I Ever, holiday edition. Turn down the lights, kick off your shoes and throw an awkward high school dance party in the middle of your living room.
Got the Festivus feels? Are you snow-tally head over heels? Is your Santa’s hat on call? In case you couldn’t tell, we’re definitely feeling that time-of-the-year cheer—and with this sack full of holiday party ideas, we’re sure those seasonal vibes are heading your way, too.
Go ahead and pop a cork, pal. This is gonna be a party to remember.