Every year we host a holiday open house. We had so much fun the first year that we kept going, and now it's turned into a major occasion for all of our friend groups. At this point, people now have Holiday Party Friends: the people they didn't know before they started coming to our parties but now look forward to seeing every year.
It's never exactly easy to host a party for 60+ people over 6 hours, but it doesn't have to be a struggle either. Here's how we do it:
1) We want a casual, comfortable vibe. This means we go pretty minimal on the non-essentials. Decor is limited to our usual Christmas decorations, glasses and utensils are disposable and ordered in bulk on Amazon, everything is served buffet style, and the soundtrack is jazzy Christmas carols from my husband's Spotify channel.
2) The most important things are food and booze. In order to not kill ourselves, we purchase pre-prepared where we can and stick to cold/room temperature fare. We also condense the list of drink offerings to make it easy for everyone to serve themselves: we offer one signature cocktail (with the nonalcoholic non-fizzy ingredients mixed ahead of time so non drinkers can still mix up something fun), champagne, and beer.
3) I get obsessed about one thing: homemade desserts. I learned to make and frost a layer cake before I knew how to boil water, so as weird and over the top as it sounds, I have a hard time being able to serve a dessert I didn't make myself. Again, I don't want to go nuts, so I keep it simple and do things like cookies and brownies (Cook's Illustrated's molasses spice cookies have been a HUGE hit) that I can make in big batches.
4) We keep the party adults only. The older we get, the more of our friends have children, and of course we love them! But kids (especially the under-three set that dominate in our social circles) at this party would be a logistical nightmare: our house is so very not childproofed, it gets really crowded, and people are having a lot of fun. I know I wouldn't want to be trying to keep track of a little one in that environment!
4) We keep traditions alive. There's always some kind of clandestine liquor consumption going on, from a tequila shot bar to cherry cordial from Croatia mysteriously passed around in our bedroom to half the party trooping into our scary rats and bats basement area to sample my husband's whiskey collection. My husband and I always wear plaid pants (can be spotted in photo above). We always eat burritos before everyone arrives because we always forget to actually eat during the party. And it's always loud and warm and a bit of a mess and we wouldn't have it any other way!
Hope you're enjoying your holiday season!