Cocktail Recipes, Spirits, and Local Bars

5 Unique Holiday Party Ideas

5 Unique Holiday Party Ideas

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Christmas comes but once a year, so host one of these fun themed holiday party ideas to spread lots of good cheer.


Instead of hosting a traditional Christmas party this year, host a gathering that your friends or family will never forget.

We've put together five themed holiday parties to help inspire you this year, complete with menu suggestions, beverage recommendations, and activities to plan.

Have you been good this year, or are you getting coal? A fun costume party idea, complete with a "Yankee Swap" gift exchange.

Come wearing your tackiest Christmas sweater to this retro party that will take you back to your grade school days.

Bake your holiday best for a competition with your friends, Top Chef-style (then bring a couple home, with recipes, to snack on later).

Celebrate the magic of Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning with your closest friends before you leave to celebrate the real holiday with family.

A party inspired by the favorite holiday song, complete with a partridge in a pear tree.

Do you host an outrageous party of your own, or have ideas to add? Share your comments with us below.

Ditch your traditional holiday party menu and check out these festive new menu ideas that’ll make your bash a truly memorable event.

A Holiday Tribute to Tapas

Tapas are small dishes traditionally served in Spanish bars. You don’t have to stick to Spanish food to do a holiday tapas tribute. Instead, focus on appetizer portions that pack big flavors.

The Summer-Meats-Winter Spread

Baby, it’s cold outside. Really, really cold! Treat your team to a tailgate themed meal in the dead of winter with hot dogs, brats, and coleslaw. Turn up the heat and ward off the December chill with a Caribbean style office lunch that will make people think of the beach, even if the ground is covered in buckets of snow.

Perfect Pairings

If your HR department is OK with office Christmas party ideas that involve a little alcohol, consider elevating the event with some thoughtful wine pairings. Set up several stations, each featuring a different dish (a carving station with roast beef and turkey, a pasta station, a table with chilled seafood and sauces) and a complementary wine. Guests can hop from area to area, seeing how their pinot noir brings out the sweetness in the cherry-glazed duck egg rolls, and you’ve managed to combine entertainment and a memorable menu.

Brunch Bites

Evenings during the holiday season can be tricky for families who have other obligations or who don’t have a regular babysitter. Opt for brunch instead and you can offer childcare in one room while the adults nosh on bagels and lox, potato pancakes and mini club sandwiches. Fresh-squeezed juice and coffee are must-haves mimosas and Bellini’s are bonuses.

Dinner and a Movie

There are so many classic Holiday movies that we all know and love. Pump up the nostalgia at your holiday office party by putting together a menu full of movie-inspired recipes like:

  • Banoffee pie — Love Actually
  • Spaghetti (without the maple syrup!) — Elf
  • Macaroni and cheese — Home Alone
  • Christmas pudding — A Christmas Carol
  • Mulled wine — It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Peking duck — A Christmas Story
  • Hot chocolate — Polar Express
  • Roast beef — How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Feel free to make gourmet versions of those classic treats or make up your own movie-inspired.
Not all your corporate holiday party ideas have to break the bank, but you may be surprised at how much mileage you get out of an interesting menu.

The Fastest Buffet Known to Man

Chef Art Smith says let the pork marinate in a zip-top bag while the oven heats up then, roast the meat for 45 minutes.

Make it: Cider French Dip

Top Chef Season 3 competitor Dale Levitski serves this wintry take on the classic sandwich with an apple-carrot slaw and a spicy mayo. Let guests assemble their own sandwiches.

Make it: Christmas Crackle Ham

This simple dish from Cristina Ferrare includes a glaze made from apple cider, orange juice, brown sugar and cayenne. You can serve it warm or at room temperature.

Buy it: Stuffed chicken

Meal delivery service Impromptu Gourmet makes its version of the classic chicken Florentine with Fontina and spinach Omaha Steaks offers chicken breast stuffed with artichoke and Parmesan, wild rice, broccoli and cheese, and other combinations.

Many supermarkets and warehouse clubs sell precooked half hams which weigh about 9 pounds and will easily feed eight people. The best-tasting ham is bright pink in color and does not have any marbling. If you'd rather order ahead and have the meat delivered, the HoneyBaked Ham Company is known for its hams' tender meat and crunchy, sugary crust. The Holiday Ham Company also gets raves for its hams' moist texture and hickory-smoked flavor.

There may not be a better deal than Costco's 6-pound package of Kirkland Signature Meat Lasagna for $13 it will feed about 12 people. And Michael Angelo's brand (which placed high in this lasagna taste test) comes in an 80-ounce "party size" that serves at least 10.

Make it: Sautéed Shredded Vegetables

It's amazing how much more exciting a dish can seem when the ingredients are simply cut in an unexpected way (here, julienned). You can change up the herbs to match your main dish.

Make it: Spicy Parmesan Green Beans and Kale

This zippy, Parmesan-spiked combination of green beans, kale and cremini mushrooms is one of Giada De Laurentiis' go-to holiday sides.

Make it: Mashed Potatoes and Celery Root with Creamy Yogurt

An elegant twist on the winter workhorse, this dish can be made a day ahead of time and reheated.

Here are 5 unique ideas for holiday party food and drinks.

Decorative Food Bars

When it comes to a food bar, Brooke Avishay of Orange Blossom Special Events has one particular idea in mind. “LA-based Command Performance Catering makes an awesome burrata bar that can easily be dressed up for a holiday party. The catering pros hang bulbs of burrata and accouterments from a tree or beam so guests can have an interactive experience with their appetizers.

“It's certainly a showstopper and I can imagine the bulbs having a holiday-feel when hung among strings of twinkle lights! We've also used In-n-Out for appetizers but cutting standard sized burgers into fourths. It was a huge hit!” shared Avishay.

Along with the burrata bar, you can’t go wrong with various cheese dips featuring seasonal favorites like cranberry brie or goat cheese for an additional party appetizer. Other decorative food bars like a cookie station or pizza bar with creative displays will be a hit too.

Photo: Yasmin Khajavi Photography

Mini Comfort Foods

With any Christmas party, holiday appetizers and finger foods are always a great idea. This is where mini options of classic foods come in. “Nothing is more festive than fancy apps and cocktails! Elevated comfort food minis like tomato soup and grilled cheese, or mac + cheese bites are always a fave and will fill up bellies,” shared Nora Sheils, Founder at Bridal Bliss .

Rather than cocktail party appetizers featuring ingredients like smoked salmon, puff pastry, or butternut squash, these classic comfort foods will be an easy appetizer that even the pickiest guests will love.

“Incorporating childhood favorites like these, or boozy Otter Pops are always a win! Cocktail-wise, the sky limit. Bubbles are always festive, or get cheeky with the times and create a Corona cocktail! Want to serve a classic but turn it up a notch? Order custom ice to start a memorable night off right” say Sheils.

Pro Tip : For Christmas appetizers, HoneyFitz Events shared, “Depending on how you are entertaining this year, you may want to consider individual servings and portions!”

Photo: Feather + North Photography

Leave it to the Pros

As the host, you’ll already have plenty to worry about. A great holiday food and drink idea is to leave it to the pros! Hire a bartender and caterer to handle the holiday party food and drinks.

These professionals will be able to come up with unique holiday party food and drink ideas, and handle everything from the preparation to the serving. When you hire a professional they’ll create the menu and craft custom cocktails that align with the theme of your holiday event.

Photo: Jessica Hill Photography

Personalized Touches

Ashley Lachney, Owner and Lead Planner at Alston Mayger Events shared, “Staying within a holiday theme is fun, but my favorite guest experiences come when the event hosts make a personal nod with their menu or cocktail offerings. Naming an appetizer or cocktail after a pet, or creating a menu based off of a part of your (or your organization's) story will never go out of style.”

“Always bring donuts into the office on Fridays? Let's incorporate that as a dessert option, or partner with your caterer to create a savory option for appetizers. Always head to "that one bar" for "that one drink" with the same crew? Serve it, but put a fun spin on the name,” shared Lachney.

Photo: Keslie Corbett Photography

A Twist on Classics

With holiday party food and drinks, you can’t go wrong with the classics—kick it up a notch by putting a spin on some traditional favorites.

Hot Cocoa

“What's better than a hot cup of cocoa during the holidays?! Red wine in your hot cocoa! I promise, your guests will love this boozy treat! Be sure to bring in fresh elements to your appetizers. No matter the time of year, your guests will crave vibrant and delicious bites!” shared Susie Spensiero of Susie Marie Photography .

Old Fashioned

“We love an old fashioned, and we took a Cape Cod twist with our version. Enjoy a cranberry old fashioned this holiday season by replacing the sugar or simple syrup in a recipe with slightly cooked down cranberries with sugar. Beautiful color and very delicious!” shared Jamie, Owner at Cape Cod Celebrations .

PIN IT&hellip

About Amy Locurto

Amy Locurto is founder and President of, a DIY Lifestyle Party and Food blog. She loves traveling, chocolate and cute cats! For more creative inspiration, follow Amy on Pinterest, and Instagram.
P.S. --> Join the Living Locurto Facebook Group for the community fun!

New Recipes & Party Ideas

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Caramelized Onion Tarts With Apples

Need an impressive Christmas appetizer that doesn&rsquot take a lot of effort? Sweet meets savory in the mixture of onions and apples that tops crisp, elegant tarts. These tasty bites look fancy, but they&rsquore surprisingly easy to make. It all starts with thawed store-bought puff pastry (one of our favorite shortcut ingredients), which you&rsquoll spread with luscious, tangy crème fraîche. Smother with sliced onions and chopped apples cooked until tender and golden, then bake until the pastry is crispy and browned. Cut into squares, preferably with a pizza cutter for best results, and serve warm.

Host a Classic Dinner Party

This party idea is all about the cozy feeling of good friends and an even better meal—think Nora Ephron and her accounts of having loved ones over to eat. Keep the guest list intimate since you'll be designing a full menu. Be sure to include an appetizer and dessert and have some conversation topics picked out for the main course, too.

Place cards may feel a bit formal, but assigning seats can help minimize any stress or awkwardness when it comes to where to sit.

What to Serve: Stick to comforting dishes, like the recipe for honey mustard chicken and vegetables from The Modern Proper.

15. Apple Pie Nachos

This unconventional way of eating apple pie is both new and exciting! Your guests will love digging into these apple pie nachos and the best part is they’ll take you only 15 minutes to make! The “nacho chips” are triangle cut flour tortillas that are tossed in a buttery sugar and cinnamon coating. While the nachos crisp up in the oven you’ll want to get started on making the apple topping. Be sure to make a larch batch because these will be a hit!

Daytime Pajama Party and Board Games

Pick the last working day before the holiday break to host an afternoon pajama party complete with board games.

  1. Have everyone wear their pajamas to work that day.
  2. Have everyone bring their favorite board game.
  3. Stop working early and have everyone play games as if they were kids waiting to open presents.
  4. Segue the party into a company happy hour for a perfect holiday send off!

With these fun ideas, who needs a big budget? Let us know what your planning in the comments below.