Christmas is the perfect time to gather friends, family and loved ones to share the joys of the season. And what better way to celebrate than by hosting a Christmas dinner party? 

Full of good food, delicious drinks, beautiful decorations and great company, a Christmas dinner party should be a memorable affair. However, we understand that planning a dinner party can be a stressful task as you strive to ensure everything is just right. This is why we’ve created a complete guide full of useful tips on how to host the best Christmas dinner party that your guests will talk about for years to come. 

1. Start Planning Early (If You Can)

When it comes to thinking about your Christmas party, it’s never too early. In fact, the more you can do before the party starts, the less you’ll have to deal with nearer the time which will massively reduce any stress. You can start planning months in advance by choosing a theme, creating a guest list and buying decorations and tableware. But if you’re pulling dinner together last minute, this checklist will make sure you haven’t missed anything!

Expert tip: Rather than trying to do everything on the morning of your party, make sure to set the table the night before and make any desserts, starters or side dishes that you can. This will leave you more time to get yourself ready and add any extra finishing touches just before the party begins. 

2. Send Invitations

The key element to any party is, of course, guests! Send out your invitations at least 2-3 weeks in advance and ask your guests to RSVP within a week so you can calculate the full headcount before you start shopping. Whether it’s a formal event or something more casual, sending physical invitations that match the festive theme of your party will add a lovely, personal touch that your guests will appreciate. 

Bonus tip: We’d also recommend buying enough food and drink for a few more people than anticipated so you can be confident you won’t run out and be fully prepared for any unexpected arrivals. ​​With NIO cocktails, you can also be confident that'll you never have any wastage if you have fewer people, yet, you can easily accommodate for more, making it a win-win situation.

NIO Cocktails

3. Find Out Dietary Requirements

It’s an easy one to miss but, remember to ask your guests if they have any allergies or dietary requirements. The last thing you want is to serve turkey to a vegetarian or bread rolls to a coeliac! You can then research what they can and can’t have, but it’s often faster to ask your guest with the requirement what their favourite substitutes are so you can cater to them specifically. While it might make things more complicated, the happiness of your guests will make up for it on the day.

4. Plan Your Food Menu

One of the biggest tasks you’ll face when planning your Christmas dinner party is creating the food menu. Our top tip is to keep it simple. If you’re cooking for a lot of people, choose recipes that you know and are comfortable making rather than trying something new. Simple, classic Christmas foods such as turkey crowns, fruitcake, gingerbread and baked salmon or ham won’t take too much time or effort and will allow you to spend more time with your guests.

If you don’t feel like serving ​​several courses, consider a buffet-style meal. Not only will this be easier to set up and buy for, but it’ll also allow your guests to mingle as they fill their plates with foods they love.

Christmas Dinner Party Food

5. Decide What Drinks to Serve

Choosing what drinks to serve is just as important as the food as, if chosen correctly, they’ll be able to complement each other beautifully and enhance the entire experience. While you can’t go wrong with some classic warm, winter cocktails such as an Espresso Martini, Manhattan and our signature Brown Gold, serving Christmas cocktails will give your dinner party an extra festive twist.

Easy to serve and time-saving when hosting a party, our exclusive Christmas Collection Box features 6 unique cocktails. Including a Snow Daiquiri, Apple Rum Punch, Spiced Negroni and a delicious Christmas Margarita, which all introduce flavours such as cinnamon or ginger, that will bring the holiday season and your Christmas dinner party to life.

Christmas Margarita Cocktail

6. Decorate the Table

Decorate the table with an impressive, festive display to wow your guests. Using candles, whether they’re tea lights, pillared or tapered candles, will create a wonderfully warm and cosy atmosphere and including seasonal flowers will add a beautiful fragrance too.

Dressing your table for Christmas with a festive table runner, placemats and serving dishes will also set the mood and get people in the spirit. You can also provide crackers for a bit of entertainment between courses.

Expert tip: Less is more. You won’t need to overladen the table with ornaments - selecting only a few pieces and then just two colours as a theme will help pull it all together.

Christmas Table Decoration

7. Create a Playlist

Set the tone with some music in the background. Creating a playlist to include a good mix of genres, including some Christmas classics, for all your guests to enjoy will help lift the atmosphere and fill any potential silence. A good rule of thumb is to start your playlist off with something mellow and then build up to livelier music before slowing down again toward the end of the night. 

Bonus tip: Remember to avoid having your music so loud that guests can’t hear each other, you want to ensure it’s purely background noise.

8. Enjoy Yourself

Lastly but, arguably, most importantly, make sure you enjoy yourself! After working hard to organise the party, cooking the food and being a gracious host, you deserve to enjoy the party as much as your guests will. So, have fun, take pictures, chat and mingle and make some new memories.

Looking for some more festive cocktail inspiration? Take a look at 10 of the best Christmas cocktails to try this season.

If you’re struggling with Christmas gift ideas for the cocktail lover in your life, read our extensive list of 40 perfect cocktail-related presents