6 Tips For a Themed Holiday Party

Dec 2 2016

by Nancy McNulty

The Southern Coterie blog: "6 Tips for a Themed Holiday Party" by Nancy McNulty (photo Kathryn McCrary)
photo: Kathryn McCrary of Epting Events for Waiting on Martha, guide2athens and The Southern C

From a signature drink and live music to a photo booth and party favors, weaving a fun and memorable event takes on new life when you embrace these tips for a themed holiday party.

Embrace a Theme and Invites

In our case, with Irish roots and our Southern homestead named Blackberry Hollow, our family hosts an “Irish Christmas at Blackberry Hollow”. Irish touches begin with our invite (Simply To Impress has a nice variety). With a busy party season, our save-the-date is emailed six weeks in advance. The Irish theme continues from wrapping our mailbox in plaid and the home country colours to the dining table. And, we love beginning the dinner with an Irish prayer and a toast!

Live Music

One of the first things I like to book is live music. This year the beloved Nashville Predators’ hockey team organist, Krazy Kyle, will be doing the honors (he is a talented and prolific pianist). Beginning with light holiday music during hors d’oeuvres, post dinner we usually end up with a sing-along with folks sometimes adding guitar, violin, dobro and voices to the mix. And, you can grab the lyrics off an iPhone! From young violin and guitar students to area professionals, live music is a huge addition to the party mix and something I’ve been doing since the days of beer budgets.

Signature Drink

Greeting guests with a signature drink is a festive beginning. This year it will be a Raspberry Limoncello Prosecco drink. The raspberry and mint garnish gives it a holiday look and prosecco is a great start for any event!

From years past, “The Grinch” has to be one of my favorites with a candy cane garnish and served in a jelly jar.

The Grinch

3 oz peach schnapps

3 oz Bacardi® 151 rum

12 oz orange juice

4 oz Sprite® soda

3 oz Blue Curacao liqueur


One of my favorite four-lettered words is food! From a Celtic venison stew to bread pudding, I like a heavy buffet for this event. A new addition was fruit, homemade crackers and Irish cheeses fashioned as a Christmas tree! The desserts include shortbread cookies, chocolate cinnamon rum bread pudding, Barefoot Contessa Brownies, chocolate vanilla trifle, meringue cookies from a family recipe, and caramel cake!

Charity In Lieu of Hostess Gifts

It seems like every time my husband and I head out the door, I’ve got an appetizer in my hand and a hostess gift. At our annual party, all food and beverage is provided as a gift to my guests. Always grateful for thoughtful gifts, we simplify the experience encouraging guests to forgo the kind hostess gift and optionally drop a little something in the bucket for an area nonprofit. Love On Wheels is our 2016 choice. They provide suitcases with necessities for area children abruptly entering child protective services.


One of the keys to our party’s festiveness is inviting a few friends from each area of our lives. Guests know they are going to have to dig in, find something in common and make a new friend! My biggest tip is to hire a high school student or a caterer to help with prep and clean up. The party planning begins the day after with notes for next year so you know these extra hands mean everything. Most of all, enjoy and happy holidays!

Great Tips For A Themed Holiday Party, Kilts.jpg
Sometimes guests wearing kilts like David McQuiddy match my favorite nutcracker #winning.



Nancy McNulty View More Blog Posts from this Author

Cool, new and different is the mantra driving the public relations efforts of our company, Forest Home Media. Based outside Nashville in the historic Forest Home area, as a PR rep, I love working with a variety of home lifestyle companies including the 2014 Nashville HGTV Smart Home builder and served on the PR team for Southern Living Idea House at Fontanel. A long-time Tennessee girl with a communications degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, my career began as a newspaper reporter and a state agency spokesman. Connect with me at ForestHomeMedia.com

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