How to

Host a Holiday Open House

Holiday Open House

Hang some tinsel and string lights, and find your inner fa-la-la. With the festive, sparkly season naturally comes a lot of holiday hustle and bustle. Thankfully, there’s a way to open your doors to friends and family with minimal planning, leaving you plenty of time to relax and enjoy your company. Get your creative juices flowing with these holiday open house ideas from Pottery Barn. They’re sure to bring joy to guests of all ages!

Set a Date

Before you start brainstorming decor and planning a buffet laden with snacks, get organized with the big-picture details. That means setting a date, time and a guest list. If you’re including families with younger kids, you might want to arrange the open house to run from noon until three in the afternoon for a brunch party. If you’re inviting an older crowd, consider opening your doors from five until eight or nine for an evening affair with cocktail party flair. Feel free to invite as many (or as few) folks as you want. Keep in mind that many people drop in to say hello and then go on to their next commitment, so the number of guests you have any given time will fluctuate. 

Send Invitations

You could send formal holiday open house invitations, emailed invitations or even personal phone calls. However you choose to invite your guests, try to send them at least four to five weeks ahead because it’s such a busy season for so many people. Make sure you include essential information like whether kids are welcome and any theme that you want people to be aware of. Also, make sure you give everyone the official start and stop time, or the meal time if you’re planning on a set time to put food out.

Design a Stress-Less Menu

The whole point of this party is to have fun. Create a holiday open house menu based around dishes that are easy to prepare, and some that you can prep ahead. Holiday open house ideas include standbys like crudités and dip, baked brie, bruschetta and canapés. For a brunch, look to crowd-pleasing egg casseroles, baked oatmeal, muffins and fresh fruit. For an evening buffet, consider a large main dish like a baked ham, pork roast or even lasagna that you can bake earlier in the day. These foods are easy to slice and serve in small portions at the table. Plan a dessert buffet with sweet treats like candy, cupcakes and holiday cookies.

Stock the Bar

Unless you’re going all out and hiring a bartender, you might want to keep your drinks as simple as your food. Bottled water, soda, tea, wine and beer are crowd-pleasing drinks that guests can easily sample. Other ideas include:

-A hot chocolate bar with warm cocoa and dishes of marshmallows, crushed peppermint candy and other toppings
-A mimosa bar stocked with sparkling wine, cranberries and juice
-A signature open house cocktail that you can mix in large batches and pour into a beautiful drink dispenser for guests to serve themselves

Keep Little Hands Happy

If you’re welcoming a younger crowd, consider including some kid-friendly holiday activities for entertainment while their parents mingle. Create a cookie-decorating station or a ginger bread house construction zone, with small bowls filled with candies and edible sprinkles. Alternatively, you could have a craft corner where your youngest guests can create holiday decor of their own to take home. 

Set a Festive Scene

Dim the lights, turn on or light your candles and plug in the string lights to add sparkle and glow to your home. Decorative lighting amps up the ambience, while greenery, ornaments and wreaths help complete the look. Arrange centerpieces on your tables on the day or night before. You can also set up your buffet area ahead of time by setting out (and covering) plates, utensils and chafing dishes. Have all your decorating finished well in advance of the party so all you have to do is a quick run through to touch everything up if needed before your guests arrive.