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Holiday Party DIY: 10 easy steps to the "Wow"

Gotta love the holidays — it's the time of year we're most inclined to make show-stopping, glamorous parties, but it's also the time of year we have absolutely NO time to pull it off. Don't know what to do? It's all good. I hope my tips for a fun holiday or New Year's eve party, help! Coming from someone who learned by researching and from family and friends. Trust me...any one can do this. I have a pretty crazy busy schedule and your friends and guests would never know how little time and money this took you! Really.

Photography: Anthony Nader @52chefs

Start at the beginning...

Step 1: Pick a theme.

When I was thinking of how to come up with a holiday party together I thought...what's a fun theme and easy to decorate. I was in my office (with gold and black decorations everywhere) and that when it hit me! Gold and black masquerade party. Then I thought, what about cocktails? I rushed to my bar and noticed the bottle of St. Germain...ding! That matches too! Their gold color was the icing on top. Also if you pick a classic theme, you can reuse most of the items next year (that's what I do)

Then I asked myself...where would Frank Sinatra and Gatsby be for a holiday party? That was the question I wanted to answer when bringing to gather the elements. With so many amazing references, I just had to apply my science research skills and get to work. Google!


Step 2: Give it a name

And I did. I named it "The Winter Social"

I didn't want for people to think it was a sit down dinner, I wanted them to get a feel of how Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe hung out back in the day, if they did. Did they?

I did some research of "Sinatra at a party" and I kept seeing photos of him at a big fancy gala.


Step 3: Choose your colors

Choose two main colors and a small third. What I mean by this is: pick 2 colors that would be all over the place. Even on your guests. I chose black and gold because it looks amazing at night and it would be easy for the guests to dress up and almost look like walking decoration. The third "color" was white, and the way I put this in the party was with white roses and white candles everywhere.


Step 4: Get your supplies

I didn't go far really, there are plenty of party supply stores and there is always Marshalls! I didn't want to have plastic cups so I bought all the glassware on sale at Marshalls, I think I spent around $1 per martini glass.

A lot of the decorations were also from Ross, with so many cool gold and black decorations for the home out there. You don't have to spend much money or time.

I purchased gold frames with quotes that were festive and fun, for only $10. I made these center pieces from a vase purchased at a Salvation Army for $1! I know crazy. I placed white roses with baby's breath along with gold glitter sticks (from Marshalls, $9 per bunch) I had never done a flower arrangement in my life.


Step 5: Look the part

You also cannot forget to look the part too. Ask all your guests to come dressed in black tie attire (I have to admit a lot of them will kick and scream, but it will be worth it) and wear a mask. This is a great way to give people a reason to dress up and come with a festive mentality. Plus, your pictures will look amazing when you post them on social media.

I went to all my references of James Bond for the look...but shopped at H&M for the suit, white shirt and bow tie (didnt need shoes because I already had black ones). For the masks...I shopped at Amazon. You can find really nice ones for $10-$15, the one I am wearing in this photo was $11.

Then I had to take care of the hair! So I went straight to my friends at Got2B Hair and got the perfect sleek hair in the old movies! It was really easy to apply and will stay like that all night...and into the next day too (I still can look good for brunch the next day). For the ladies, they have great products, that would give that vintage sleek look from the 20s.


Step 6: Get some help, catering I mean.

As much as I like to make (most) things. You will still need some help when it comes to food. I asked my friend Chef Yisus to whip up a nice batch of sushi from his restaurant Ikura in Coral Gables. He can bring it with an amazing fusion sushi flavors...picture it, asian with a kick of latin. Well I guess you don't have to, the pictures speak for themselves. But if you haven't been to his restaurant, you are missing out!

Then the desserts! I came in contact with Lia from Lia's Cakes in Miami and ordered something with a touch of gold. She recommended a naked cake with edible gold over top it off with a gold metal mask (also purchased on Amazon, $15) The filling is her most popular, dulce de leche with a splash of rum. Your guests would love it, and ask for seconds.

I also thought of this idea to bring a different take on the dessert table. So I went to my friends at Cielito Artisan pops in Wynwood. Their chocolate and vanilla pops are the coolest thing...and beautiful too. You will be torn between eating them or not...because they look so artsy and high-end, you might want to put it on display somewhere. They just released a "tres leches" pop and it was AMAZING!!!

I like to do most of the food myself, but lets face it. Sometimes you need to go to the experts. Doing most of it yourself can really reduce cost, that way you stick to the budget. Below are some of the ones you can do. Message me for the full step by step instructions!


Step 7: Don't forget the invitations.

This is the first thing people are going to see and figure out that your party is off the chain. Don't use facebook or text people with the invitation. Take 5 minutes and come up with a really nice one. I used Paperless Post. I love these guys!

They have very nice and modern invitations and the method of delivery to your guests is super cool too. Your guests would be amazed at how expensive your invite looks and original. Yes, you didn't use social media to invite them. That alone, would set you apart these days. It's also a great way to keep track of your guests, as well as communicate with them through reminders and other wall messages.


Step 8: The element(s) of surprise

This is a thing or a person that would make your party go up a couple of notches. You want to have just one, but if you can come up with a couple, that's not bad either. That would really blow your guests minds away! I decided to get a bartender (surprise #1) and not only would that help me be a host, it would also keep me from making cocktails for so many people. I contacted my friend Sergio who does bartending for private events in Miami. He is amazing, you need someone like this!

The second surprise was making specialty cocktails only for this night. I had the guests name the cocktails and turn it into a little game as well.

Cocktails #1: Gold cocktail

For step by step instructions click on the gallery below...btw the frames were from Ross for $5

Cocktails #2: Dark cocktail

For step by step instructions click on the gallery below

Step 9: Set the mood

From the scents to the sound. You have to have the right mood, for this it is easy! Go get some candles. I bought candles from DW home and that is the perfect way to have your guests gasp as they enter your door.

DW makes sandalwood myrrh scented candles, which are my favorite for any gathering. They look really elegant plus the scent they produce can last for hours without having to worry about changing them.

Step 10: Music time! everybody knows is party time!

I want to keep the feeling of the party like if we were at a fun gathering in the 1940s. So it's a no brainer. Get Pandora on and put holiday music, some Etta James, and of course a little Sinatra to close the deal. At the end of the night, you can always change it up and play modern upbeat music.

To add a little surprise at the end, get some handheld confetti launchers from Flutter Fetti! Those are super easy to use and makes your party go up a few notches. I am always looking for new ways to surprise my guests at any event, these guys are great for that! Plus after the party is over, they are very easy to pick up!

At the end...just have fun and make sure your guests do too.

They will thank you for inviting them and leave asking, "when is the next one?"


If you got some ideas from here let me know! Send me an email with pictures of your party. I want to send you a little gift!

Photography: Anthony Nader @52chefs

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