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9 Festive Christmas Dinner Party Ideas

Making time for everyone during the holidays is tough. There are so many people to see, so much shopping to do, and so little time to do it all before the new year. But, with proper planning, you can celebrate with the ones who matter most. A Christmas dinner party is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the holiday season with your chosen family. It can be a simple, intimate affair hosted in your home or a big event, depending on your hosting style. Here’s a guide full of fun Christmas dinner party ideas that will get everyone in the holiday spirit. Enjoy!

1. Design the perfect tablescape

Most of the party will, of course, be spent at the dinner table, so make it beautiful and festive! At each place setting, set up place cards with your guests’ names on them. The place cards can be red and green or Christmas shapes like gifts, sleighs, or trees. Use a tablecloth and placemats, chargers, cloth napkins, napkin rings, and consider adding a table runner (it could even be a strip of fake snow made of cotton!). The Dollar Store is an excellent place to find elegant tableware for less.

You can top the table with snowy trees and snowmen to create a winter wonderland look or pine cones and holly from a craft store. Gather a collection of reindeer and other Christmas characters to create a scene, or stick to a traditional nativity scene if you celebrate the holiday as part of Christianity.

Finish the look with candles. You can use real or battery-operated votives to set the mood. Go for pine or cinnamon scents, or use unscented. Whatever you choose, just make sure the scent isn’t so overpowering that your guests lose their appetites. For visual examples of elegant winter table settings, check out this design blog.

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2. Have a movie marathon

For a festive ambiance, play your favorite Christmas movies in the background at your dinner party. Great go-to choices are A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, The Santa Claus(e), Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the Jim Carrey live-action version, of course), Home Alone, The Holiday, The Polar Express, Christmas with the Kranks, and It’s A Wonderful Life.

Here’s an adults-only dinner party idea: pair the movie marathon with a drinking game! This works best with Hallmark or Hallmark-style Christmas movie (like Netflix originals) that are so ridiculous, you can’t help but laugh. (Love at the Christmas Table is a great one). Come up with rules like every time a cliche occurs, such as love at first sight or magic saves the day, guests have to take a shot. If you go with this idea, please play responsibly.

3. Set the mood with a playlist

All dinner parties need music, and the Bing Crosby Christmas classics are perfect to play in the background while you enjoy a meal with friends. For more song inspiration, check out this Spotify playlist. You also can’t go wrong with Michael Buble and Mariah Carey’s Christmas albums.

4. Give the gift of Christmas cocktails

The tree isn’t the only thing that will be lit at your party. Get in the holiday spirit with festive spirits. Think sangria, hot cider, and mulled wine, and ditch regular old eggnog for eggnog coladas. Serve the drinks in holiday-themed stemless wine glasses and get some paper straws for extra flair. For an extensive list of decadent drink recipes, check out this slideshow on Delish.

5. Place gifts at the table 

Party favors aren’t just for kids’ parties. Spread holiday cheer by leaving a gift at each place setting. Here are some gift ideas that are under $10: candles, bath bombs (you can find Christmas-themed ones at LUSH or Target), chocolate, mini bottles of alcohol, or stationery. Think consumable or useful gifts that everyone will appreciate. You can even place them in tiny stockings or acrylic gift boxes to be extra festive.

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6. Make the food festive

A dinner party can feature a three-course meal, just appetizers, or whatever you want. Many traditional Christmas foods are pretty similar to Thanksgiving fare, but every culture has their special holiday foods. Some of the most common eats for Christmas Day are: sugar cookies, fudge, peppermint bark, dinner rolls, turkey, ham, roast beef (or Tofurkey), stuffing, pies, tamales, potato salad, casseroles, fruit cakes, and puddings.

7. Host a Christmas karaoke battle

Some Christmas hits are just meant to be belted out loud after a few glasses of champagne. Get silly with a Christmas karaoke battle. Some perfect karaoke songs are “Last Christmas,” “Santa Baby,” “All I Want for Christmas is You,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” If you don’t have microphones or a karaoke video game, simply use a projector or smart TV to pull up karaoke versions of Christmas songs on YouTube and display them on a big screen.

8. Play games

Ask your guests about the games they grew up playing with their families during the holidays, or give traditional games a hint of Christmas magic. You can play the card game Spoons with candy canes instead of utensils. Or, create or find an online trivia game based on popular Christmas songs and movies.

9. Switch it up with a unique venue

If you’re hosting family guests in your home for the holidays, hosting another party there can be a challenge. So take the party somewhere else! With Peerspace, you can book venues of all types by the hour. You can even find a place with a fireplace and kitchen amenities. It could be a loft, historic home, mansion, cafe, bar, speakeasy, or lounge.

Christmas dinner parties are some of the best parts of the holiday season, so be the host with the most. Go the extra mile with the decor, food, and drinks. With these Christmas dinner party ideas, your gathering is sure to be memorable.

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