Why not kick off the holidays by hosting a casual, drop-by party for family, friends and neighbors?  And who doesn’t love to come to a Holiday Open House? 

how to host a holiday open house


Hosting a holiday open house is the perfect way to entertain while keeping your home a festive “safe-gathering” destination. 

Planning a casually elegant or super-casual open-house is really a holiday hostess’ dream party!  When you throw a gathering that spans the afternoon into the evening, it creates ample opportunity for everyone to stop by.  The gradual flow of guests throughout the party lets you spend more quality time with each and every one, safely.

And here’s how The Lifestyle Diva believes you should start your Holiday Open House!



holiday open house face masksA Gracious Hostess will provide a festive way for guests to stay safe while enjoying a fun visit to your holiday open house. 

By having a basket full of cute holiday decorated face masks available when guests enter your home, you start their party experience off right! 

They can relax and enjoy the party and other guests with confidence, knowing that you thought of all their needs. 

I found these cuties at Amazon:

50 PC 3 ply Disposable Christmas Adult Face Masks by Lopty.  Are they adorable, or what!

Of course, if you’re throwing a New Year’s Eve open house, basic black is always in!

I wouldn’t wait until the last minute to order some though, between the deluge of holiday mail and limited supplies, you could be out of luck!



You’ll want to start by checking your calendar to see what date you want to host your holiday open house.  If you’ll be attending an event on Friday evening, that Saturday probably isn’t the right day.  

Make sure you have plenty of time to do kitchen prep, decorate, and pull the party together the week before your open house.  Maybe one of your besties can stop by to help one day that week.

And if that’s not possible, maybe she can swing by the bakery the day of the party to pick up the desserts!  There’s no shame in asking for a little helping hand, especially since she’ll be one of your party guests!



  • E-VITES:  While this is not my preferred method of inviting guests to my home, I do understand its wide appeal.  But in all honesty, I’ve actually found it tougher, as many of my proposed guests were not in my email address book.  But, I’ve found a fun idea that could make this type of invitation a little more exciting for the recipients.  Check this out…

holiday open house email invitation countdown timer

Here’s a screenshot of the countdown timer I created for my Holiday Open House.  If you click on the link below, you’ll be able to create a party themed “countdown timer” you can include in your Email-Invitation.  Isn’t this adorable?  Your party’s date and time will count down right until your party begins!

They have a whole bunch of themes that you can choose from, including retirement!

How cool is that?  Let me know if you use one in your evite!  I’m on a need to know basis on how it worked for your holiday open house.  Comment below this post so we can all hear about your experience!




holiday open house


  • SNAIL-MAIL OR HAND-DELIVERY:  We all know how busy the holiday season is, so try to give your guests as much notice as possible.  I know many of our friends tack the season’s invites/activities on their refrigerator or corkboards, so a physical invitation is welcome.   You can choose to ask for RSVP’s or not for an open house, it’s really your choice.  I find that people tend to be a bit looser in their commitment for this type of gathering.  An “open house” allows guests to come and go at any time during the event, but it’s still acceptable to ask for RSVPs.


If you do indeed decide to use a printed invitation, I’ve created 3 lovely invitation designs for your party!  I’m personally using the “Winter” themed motif, as I’m throwing kind of a combination Christmas and Hanukkah soiree.  Everyone is invited!

NAN’S TIP:  Let your friends with children know if they are welcome to bring them to your holiday open house.  They’ll appreciate the “heads-up” when planning their holiday schedule. 


holiday open house invitations

I’ll tell you a little later how to get your free Holiday Open House Invitations download.



It’s important to remember that everyone will not eat every item you serve, so have a wide variety of holiday and party foods available.  And of course, at a holiday open house, the food will be eaten all day/evening long. So it takes a little more planning beforehand, but it will be a breeze to maintain during your party.

Now, more than ever, it’s a great idea to separate your food offerings into several smaller displays.  This allows your guests to keep their distance when serving themselves from the buffets.  It’s also the go-to plan when you know that guests will be bottlenecking at certain “rush hour” times of the day.  No one wants to wait in line for another meatball!


holiday open house buffet foods

Here’s some guidelines I developed during my pro-catering days for flawless buffet service:

  • Serving an assortment of festive and delicious foods is mandatory for a successful holiday open house.
  • Plan a menu that is buffet-friendly, with an assortment of both cold and hot foods that can stand up to extended display periods. (think charcuterie platters, relish trays, cheese balls, snack mixes, and spiced nuts)
  • Cold menu offerings should be displayed in smaller quantities and refreshed as needed throughout the party’s duration. Consider using ice trays under extra-perishable items like seafood or dairy products.  You can rent plexiglass trays with built-in drainage or use an inflatable ice holder from Oriental Trading.  (I used a really fun red/white checked one for my 4th of July salads this Summer!)
  • Consider serving a lovely baked ham or turkey with all the fixings.  They’re wonderful on a buffet!  A basket of mini rolls and a selection of mustards, horseradish and spreads will keep your crowd happy all day!  (I like to sneak in some cranberry sauce as a little surprise sandwich spread)

christmas open house buffet table

  • Hot foods should be kept in small individual chafers, as opposed to the large “full pan” size I used when catering professionally. Check them periodically so you can stir them or pop another batch in when they come out fresh from the oven.
  • Keep in mind that you’ll want to have hearty and satisfying winter salads and vegetables to keep your non-meat eating friends happy as clams too.  Room temperature roasted vegies with a lovely vinaigrette and fresh herbs are always a hit!
  • When possible, position the buffet and the beverage station so that people can approach from both sides.
  • Don’t forget that “the eyes eat first”!  So dig out your pretty serving pieces, 3-tiered trays and crystal bowls! And make sure to plan to do a little seasonal decor on your buffets too.
  • For festive food presentations, you’ll want to make sure you have the ingredients you’ll need to make some simple garnishes.  I’ve got just what you need!  Take a moment to request your free copy of my 10 Fabulous No-Tool-Needed Garnishes For The Holidays E-Book.  It’s going to really “up” your holiday hostess game, I promise!





  • Pay attention to how many people you’ve greeted, and make sure you check the food often during peak guest count periods. Likewise, when you’ve got little to no guests, ensure you don’t have too much food sitting out getting stale or warm.
  • Consider making a separate buffet for your desserts and coffee to allow for a dramatic dessert display on three-tiered trays and footed cake plates.
  • Place small bowls of snacks and cookies near other gathering spots, such as next to the couch, on the bar, and on the coffee table.
  • You can expect a guest to eat approximately 3-4 pieces of appetizers, 5 oz. of protein and about a cup of salads or vegetables. And don’t forget some holiday decorated treats for dessert!  You can plan on almost every guest having dessert while enjoying your party.
  • Ask a friend that’s staying for the whole party to help keep tabs on your buffets and beverage station to ease your hostess duties a bit.


holiday open house beverage service


Offering your guests a drink as they arrive is the perfect holiday welcome.  Steer them over to your holiday open house beverage station and acquaint them with their choices, it’s that simple!

There’s no need to stock a full bar for a holiday open house, in fact, I highly discourage it.  It’s really not that kind of party, as your guests will be dropping in and out all afternoon or evening long.  And so, most likely some of your guests will be driving.  Keep your libations light, festive and delicious, and you’ll have a hit!

In fact, if you live in an area that’s cold during the holidays, I’ve got a great idea for you!  Make a big batch of hot mulled cider in your slow cooker, and have its aroma wafting from your beverage station all day long! 


Here’s a fast and fabulous Hot Mulled Cider Recipe that I love to serve during the holidays!

  • 1 gallon fresh apple cider (make sure it’s the cloudy kind)
  • 1 medium orange
  • 2 inch slice of fresh gingerroot
  • 1 Tbsp. whole cloves
  • 5 – 4 inch long whole cinnamon sticks


holiday open house hot mulled cider

  • Pour the cider or juice into a 5-quart or larger slow cooker.
  • Cut the orange into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut the ginger into 1/4-inch-thick slices and add both to the slow cooker.
  • Then add the cinnamon sticks, cloves and optional spices. To make it easier to serve, place the cloves and spices in a tea ball first. Or, place in a double layer of cheesecloth or paper coffee filter and tie closed with kitchen twine.
  • Cover the slow cooker and cook until the flavors meld, 4 hours on LOW. (Strain the cider through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a large pot.) Keep warm and serve in mugs garnished with additional orange slices if desired.



big batch bloody mary mix with garnishes

There’s always some new cocktail I want to try out or create, so what better time than at a holiday open house?

I’ve collected a selection of pitchers, carafes and beverage dispensers just for this purpose!  If you’ve got a few really delicious and varied cocktails whipped up in pitchers, your holiday bartending chores get much easier!

For example, I love to serve my BIG BATCH BLOODY MARY MIX RECIPE  at brunches and luncheons, especially with lots of amazing garnishes for my guests to choose from.

Yes, that’s a spicy shrimp perched on the edge of my Bloody Mary!  It’s a great combo!

NAN’S TIP:  Prepare a double or triple batch of your cocktails to make refilling your beverage station a snap during the party. (depending on how many guests you expect)

This year I’m planning on serving a flight of infused vodka flavored “mini-grapefruit infused vodkasmartini’s” at a small “after-Christmas” gathering.  I think they’ll be a big hit with a menu of Gourmet Latkes and my Savory Party Cheesecake Appetizer.

Want to learn how to infuse vodka with all sorts of flavors, from pink grapefruit, to jalapeno-ginger, or maybe even coffee beans?  You’ll need to be careful, because once you start making up fun flavor combinations, you won’t want to stop!

Click here to learn how to make 20 Infused Vodkas and Flavored Vodka Cocktails.


HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE BEVERAGE SIGNAGE – Tent Cards for Your Beverage Station

While you’re busy being a fabulous hostess throughout your holiday open house, you won’t always be available to answer the question, “What is it?”

The way I cure that problem is to use some stylish beverage station signage that matches my party’s colors or theme. I love pulling together a “whole package”, so it was a no brainer to create beverage station tent cards that match the invitations. 

holiday open house beverage signage

  • Download the Holiday Open House Beverage Signage PDF
  • Choose the tent card design of your choice
  • Print the amount you need on white card stock using a color printer
  • Fill in your holiday open house’s beverage choices on the bottom front
  • Fold each card in half lengthwise and set next to the appropriate beverage at your station





Creating an inviting ambiance with music, seasonal aromas and twinkling party lights or candles is a perfect way to celebrate the holidays.  If your garden thrives year-round, grab some sprigs of shrubbery and flowers from your yard to create bouquets that will add life to the party.

Or grab a few bunches of pine boughs and holly to cheer up your buffets and beverage station.  Remember, a home decked out in holiday gear creates a festive atmosphere that gives your party the perfect vibe.

Remember that recipe for hot mulled cider?  If you’re not planning on including a hot drink at your beverage station (my pals in Florida would cringe at the thought!), then this is a great idea for you!


whole spices and citrus halves

Fill your home with warm holiday aromas to greet your guests with the welcoming scents of the season wafting through the air.

Here’s a simple simmer pot recipe for you to try:


  • 1 whole orange, sliced
  • ½ cup raw cranberries
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. whole cloves
  • 3 – 4 inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1 whole star anise
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg


Directions: Combine ingredients with 2 quarts water; simmer on low throughout the party, adding water as necessary. (keep the pot partially covered so it won’t evaporate as quickly)


holiday open house photo booth


Guests love to “mug” for photos, especially when surrounded by their pals!  Give them the chance to take group photos together to help your guests create fun memories.  

Here’s a few fun ideas for a creative photo-booth backdrop:life size santa claus cut out

  • Use a solid or small patterned holiday gift wrap 
  • An ironed black sheet is always a good choice, especially if your guests are dressed up!
  • Try hanging a streamer or fringed curtain against a wall for a quick backdrop
  • Or invite a life-size Santa cut out to the party to pose next to! (available online at party store outlets)
  • Purchase a holiday photo backdrop on Amazon (they range from $10-$40)
  • If you’ve done a fabulous job decorating your fireplace and mantle, use that!


Of course you’ll want to provide some fun photo props to help your guests “ham it up”!    I created some really great ones for the Super Bowl last year that were a ton of fun to use!  Check out Oriental Trading or online party stores for a huge selection to choose from.

And don’t forget to have a few selfie-sticks nearby too!



I’ve been dreaming up and creating party favors for years. I made it a mainstay in my catering firm’s party package options, even for corporate affairs.  You’d be amazed at how many times my clients chose to “add-on” a take-home party favor.

And for a holiday open house?   They’re a really lovely way to thank your guests for coming to pay you a holiday visit.  What a gracious hostess you are!


open house party favors

Here’s a few ideas for a festive take-home favor for your holiday open house party:

  • Your grandma’s cookies and a cookie cutter with the recipe card attached
  • Mulled wine spices with recipe card
  • Christmas ornament
  • Small Poinsettia plant
  • Melt & Pour Goat Milk Soap
  • Homemade hot chocolate mix with marshmallows
  • Miniature rosemary plant
  • Box of homemade fudge, candies or Gourmet Double Dipped Pretzel Rods


The possibilities are endless, the only limit is your imagination!  And if that fails to inspire you, hit Pinterest one evening and you’ll have more ideas than you can handle.



  • Make sure your dishwasher is empty before the party begins for fast disposal of kitchen messes and party party emergency basketdishes.
  • Strategically placed garbage collection containers are a must for smooth flowing parties.  Giving your guests a way to dispose of their finished paper goods, toothpicks and glasses will keep the party clutter to a minimum. 
  • If you’re using real plates, flatware and glasses, place a small table or assign a corner surface for guests to drop off their used items.  Keep an eye out and whisk away the “empties” whenever you have the chance.
  • Put a recycling container under the bar so that empty wine bottles can be tossed immediately.
  • Make a “party emergency” basket to allow for fast clean-ups of spills or accidents during the party.  You can include things like a garbage bag, clean white cloth, seltzer water, wine remover, Mr. Clean Eraser, carpet stain treatment and salt.



The most gracious host is also a guest, so be present and have some fun of your own. The most important thing is spending time with friends and family this time of year.   That’s exactly why you spent so much time planning a fabulous holiday open house for them!

Now let me tell you how to get your own Holiday Open House Invitations that I mentioned earlier!


HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE INVITATIONS – 3 Fab Designs to Choose From!

Once you’ve decided to host a holiday open house, you’ll definitely want to have some fabulous invitations too, won’t you?  I would! 

I’ve created three different designs, each with a it’s own “vibe”.  One’s got a wintery feel, and another a definite Christmas theme.  The last design is a more “polished” style, done in black, white, gold and silver. It would be perfect for an evening or New Year’s Eve open house.


holiday open house invitations

As you can see, no matter how you want to celebrate the season with a holiday open house, I’ve got you covered. At least I hope I do!

If you’d like to see a different style of holiday open house invitation available next season, won’t you comment below this post to let me know?  It makes me really happy when I can address specific requests from my loyal readers!

host a holiday open house


It’s so simple to use these delightful holiday open house invitations!  Here’s how:

  • Download the FREE PDF
  • Choose which Holiday Open House Invitation designs you’d like to use
  • Print on white card stock using a color printer (there’s 2 invitations per page)
  • Invite your friends and family to your fabulous Holiday Open House! 


*IFAFL Subscribers have exclusive access to all the fabulous PRINTABLES in the IFAFL Resource Library.


Want your own HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE INVITATIONS, but you’re not on our list yet?

Why not join in on the fun!

blue cheese apricot tartlets

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