Christmas is an especially wonderful occasion to get together with your loved ones, and one of the best ways to do so is to host a great Christmas party. Roughly 90% of Americans celebrate the holiday, meaning you’ll probably have plenty of people in your life that you can invite. However, if you’ve never thrown a Christmas party before, you might be unsure how to make it a fun, festive and memorable event. Here, we’ll look at how to plan a Christmas party and make it an awesome occasion for everyone involved.

1. Get a Great Christmas Tree

When you think of Christmas, a colorful, beautifully decorated tree is probably one of the first things that come to mind. And if you’re hosting a get-together for the holiday, the people you invite will most certainly be expecting to see a great Christmas tree. So, you should absolutely splurge for a big, wonderful tree that can serve as the centerpiece of the party.

That said, a Christmas tree won’t be truly impressive unless it’s decked out in lights and other decorations. You’ll want to make sure that the tree is brightly lit up and covered in ornaments. If you want to give your guests an extra treat, you can even include some personalized Christmas ornaments for everyone you invite.

2. Choose a Theme

One surefire way to make your Christmas party stand out is to make it a themed party. Choosing a theme for your gathering is a great way to give the party a cohesive vibe and aesthetic look. It can even help make your party seem unique when compared to other events that your guests have attended.

There are tons of fantastic options when it comes to themes for your Christmas party. For example, you could go with a winter wonderland theme and have the whole place covered in fake snow and bright white colors. You could also make the theme Santa’s elves, handing out elf ears to all the guests and having one person play Santa Claus. The possibilities are endless, and if you want, you could even poll your guests ahead of time to see what theme they prefer!

3. Have a Gift Exchange

Who doesn’t love giving and receiving Christmas gifts? It’s one part of the holiday season that everybody enjoys, and there’s no reason you can’t integrate it into your party. One option is to simply buy gifts for everyone you invite, but that will require quite a bit of effort and money on your part. Instead, you may want to consider hosting a gift exchange.

You can go the Secret Santa route, in which you assign every attendee another person to get a present for. Then, everyone can buy personalized Christmas gifts for each other and hand them out at the event. That way, each person only pays for one gift, and everyone gets something meant specifically for them.

4. Get the Dogs Involved

If you and many of your friends and family members are dog lovers, you could do something a bit unorthodox and get the pups involved in your Christmas party. If you’re hosting the get-together somewhere with a large outdoor space, you could encourage everyone to bring their dogs along.

The pups could have some fun interacting with one another, and you could even encourage everyone to dress their pets up in adorable holiday outfits. For even more fun, you could buy custom dog stockings for all the furry friends that you know are coming to the gathering!

5. Plan Ahead

When you’re planning an event of any kind, planning things in advance is extremely important. Studies show that roughly 15 to 20% of adults suffer from procrastination in some form. However, if you wait until the last minute to plan things for your Christmas party, the festivities probably won’t go too smoothly.

Ideally, you should know things like how many people are coming, what type of food you’re serving and the time and date of the event at least two or three weeks ahead of time. That should give you enough time to make all the necessary arrangements, and if anything falls through, you’ll have sufficient time to enact any necessary backup plans.

6. Integrate Some Games

One of the keys to throwing an awesome Christmas party is keeping all your guests thoroughly entertained. While socializing and exchanging gifts will certainly be fun, you’ll want to fill out the event with a few fun, engaging activities. If you’re having an adults-only party, you may want to include a drinking game or two. Otherwise, you’ll want to choose two or three family-friendly games that everyone can enjoy. Ideally, you can make the fun activities holiday themed.

For example, have a gingerbread house decorating competition or a Christmas gift-wrapping relay race. Alternatively, you could play a classic game like charades and have every answer related to Christmas. Ultimately, it’s up to you, and it can’t hurt to get some opinions from your guests ahead of time on what activities they’d enjoy most.

Cater to Your Guests

When you’re trying to figure out how to plan a Christmas party, you’ll probably find yourself overwhelmed with choices and ideas. What’s most important, though, is that you throw the type of party that your friends and family are going to enjoy. Everybody’s different, and you know the people in your life best.

It’s great to make your get-together exciting and unique, but you shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to make it the greatest party ever. Cater to what your loved ones will like the most, and don’t be afraid to get their input in advance. And remember that ultimately, what makes a Christmas party wonderful is spending time with the people you care about!