1. Dinner Party
Menu: Cheese, cured meats, nuts, olives; stuffed crown roast of pork with vegetable sides; sticky toffee pudding.
Tunes: Think smooth, slick R&B and soul, a little jazzy and international: Cesária Évora, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Mayer Hawthorne, The Bird and the Bee. Get the playlist.
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Style: Use Christmas ornaments as place cards and party favors. Kill the lights and go for candles instead.
Drinks: Kir Royales to start; wine with dinner.
Menu: Passed hors d'oeuvres; oyster platter with mignonettes; tenderloin sandwiches with toppings; boozy eggnog and doughnuts.
Tunes: Dance hits and throwbacks: Beyoncé, A Tribe Called Quest, Vampire Weekend, Prince, The Cure. Get the playlist.
Style: Rent or buy fancy glassware (thrift stores are good options for vintage). Set out a giant silver ice tub with wine.
Drinks: Batched blood orange negronis, wine and bubbly.
Tunes: Super-low-key, chill, indie singer-songwriters: Beck, Beach House, Frankie Cosmos, Bon Iver, Nick Drake. Get the playlist.
Style: Arrange flowers and winter foliage in jars. Let guests make their own bouquets as a take-home gift.
Drinks: Bloody Mary bar with zillions of garnishes.
4. Cookie Swap
Menu: A hearty ribollita soup and salad; cookie station with digestivi.
Tunes : Poppy, energetic and fun (Eric Hutchinson, Haim, Sia, Tegan and Sara) with a side of retro (Hall & Oates, INXS). Get the playlist.
Style: Personalize cookie tins with everyone’s name. Tell guests to wear their ugliest Christmas sweater.
Drinks: Mulled wine, and mocktails for the kids.
Music is the lifeblood of your party: If it’s good, guests want to stick around. We reached out to Jeremy Abrams—whose company, Audiostiles, curates playlists for top restaurants and hotels—to get his rules for holiday-party tunes.
1. “You want people to notice the music, but it shouldn’t dominate, unless a dance party is what you’re aiming for.”
2. “Keep the tempo and vibe consistent, so guests don’t feel pulled in different directions.”
3. “Don’t mix in too many holiday songs—by mid-December, most people will have gotten their fill.”