How to throw a party in an hour or less

The holiday season is a hectic time. In the hustle and bustle of decorating, preparing festive meals and hosting family guests, there always seems to an inevitable knock at the door and suddenly you are expected to feed and entertain a bevy of guests.


  • Decide what you are going to do and make ahead of time so you are never caught off guard.

  • Shop your own house, stock up easy party items or borrow from friends to save time and money.

  • Transform everyday items into something festive!

Quick, creative and affordable holiday party elements will be featured in the areas of fun food, easy beverages, table décor and "sweet-tivities" (making sweets that are activities) for kids and adults!
  • Use jars for decorations -- Clean out our giant pickle jars, mayo jars and glass jugs from your recycling bin, tie them with gingham bow and fill them full of home-made, store-bought or re-gift cookies. Your guests will love digging in to these fun cookie jars and they can be easily replenished for the next arrival!

  • Stir together some easy "Poinsettia Punch" -- cranberry juice and champagne for the adults and cranberry and gingerale for the kids! Serve it in glass pitcher with fresh cranberries on top and pour it into champagne flutes or plastic "dollar store" flutes tied with red ribbons on their stems.

  • Create a table of "sweet-tivities" -- At One Hour Parties, we call these sweets that are also an activity! It keeps kid's happy and occupied throughout the get-together. Create a cookie decorating station, or graham cracker sleds (graham crackers, icing, and candy canes) add snowman people to the sled with various sized marshmallows and candy decorations!

  • Create some quick "Santa's Sweet and Salties" for your guests -- Grab a bag of pretzels, pour a little peanut oil in the bag and pour a packet of dried ranch dressing mix inside, shake it up and tumble into a bowl. Delicious!

    Or create a kid's activity where you take square pretzels, place them on a cookie sheet and top with unwrapped Hershey's kisses or hugs (peppermint ones are available at holiday time), have an adult stick them in the oven and out will pop a savory sweet holiday smore!

  • Create a cookie wreath centerpiece for your table -- Simply arrange cookies in a wreath shape right on the table cloth. If you like, place a pillar candle on a small plate in the center of the wreath…nibble away!

  • Crush peppermint candy canes in a bowl -- Pour powdered hot chocolate mix on top. Kids can use this to make "Snowball Soup" in their mugs with mini marshmallows and adults can spike it with peppermint schnapps! Fill small recycled glass jars with the mix for your guests to take home with them!

  • Make a "mitten garland" from your kid's old mittens tied together with a ribbon -- Or for a more dramatic look, tie inexpensive silver Christmas cookie cutters with ribbon, scatter them on the table and have your guests take one home when they leave!

  • Stack children's Christmas books in the center of your table -- Top it with a Christmas pop-up book. Open the book to a desirable picture and voila…instant centerpiece!

  • Use food as table décor -- Fill a glass jar with cranberries and put a pillar candle inside, or core the top of an apple or pomegranate and turn them into taper candle holders for your table. Real or fake greens and pinecones can also add pizzazz too!

  • Print your favorite cookie recipe on Christmas stationary -- Then roll and tie them with a ribbon and keep them in a basket by the front door to give away as parting gifts!

  • Turn your kitchen table into a craft station -- Your guests can make a gift to take home or give to someone else. Grab your glue gun, some candy canes, and any old terra cotta pots.

    Arrange and glue the candy canes side by side on their ends with the hooks up at the top, Tie a red ribbon around the pot and have them fill the pot with wrapped candy or left-over cookies!
About Leanne Mumm Pardo and Christopher Hughes:

Leanne Mumm Pardo and Christopher Hughes co-founded One Hour Parties, a premiere party planning franchisor headquartered in Seattle. One Hour Parties provides quick, creative and affordable celebrations for corporate events, kid's parties, weddings and more.

The company has provided party planning and creative events for notable companies including Google,, General Motors and Sony Entertainment Online as well as at home parties and kid's celebrations.

One Hour Parties started in 2001 and is now franchising their concept across the country. One Hour Parties was recently named "Hot New Franchise" by Entrepreneur Magazine, "Top 25 Innovators and Entrepreneurs" by Seattle Business Monthly, and has been featured as lifestyle experts on "San Diego Living."

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