12 Dec

I love to entertain! I was taught at a young age to open your home to those you know, create a comfortable home where all feel welcome and feed them well during their visit. My parents host a Christmas Open House every year and it's always a highlight of the season. This year due to my sister graduating from college this week along with the majority of our family members having birthdays being in December, they've moved the open house to New Year's Eve. I have a feeling it might be the start of a new tradition! Either way, NYE is part of the holiday season so it works too!

After the girls and I created and planned this link up, I immediately started thinking about what I was going to post on entertaining. Open houses are things that anyone can do. You can plan and host an open house on any budget! This post gives you ideas for everything you need to host an open house from invitations to playlists and everything in between!

You'll need to invite your guests. You'll want to mail the invitations out anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks before the party. I suggest four weeks around the holidays. Everyone's schedules are full so you want to make sure to get on their calendars. Here are a few of my favorite Holiday Party Invitations by Tiny Prints. But don't worry, depending on your family or group of friends, you can always do an impromptu party and invite everyone by phone! Open Houses can be as formal or as casual as you would like. Ours are always pretty casual!

Tip: Saturday evenings work great for most. Plus, for the hostess, it gives you one day to prepare and one day to recover! I always need at least one day to recover after hosting a party.

Let's get right to the food! Here are a few of our go-to books: Williams-Sonoma Entertaining, Finger Foods by Laurel Glen, Martha Stewart Hors d'oeuvres Handbook and InStyle Parties. All wonderful investments if you plan to host a party or two in the future.

A sample menu my mom and I created just for you: heavy hors d'oeuvres, spread of desserts and drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

 *All recipes will be posted on Tuesday with Molly from Duchess of Fork.


  1. 1. Make sure your table is the appropriate size for the amount of food you're serving. You want your table to be full, not crowded.

  2. 2. Set up your table with the plates at the beginning and the silverware and napkins at the end. Makes it easier for your guests to fill their plates.

  3. 3. Cold dishes first, hot dishes to the end.

  4. 4. Set up a separate table/station for desserts.

  5. 5. Put your drinks and bar as far away from the buffet as possible to eliminate congestion.

  6. 6. Replenish your dishes often instead of putting all the food out as once to keep everything fresh. This is especially important if you're open house is over a long period of time.

  7. 7. Use a checklist like the one below in the Williams-Sonoma Entertaining book to ensure your bar is stocked for all of your guests' requests.

As the hostess, you must also think about what you are going to wear! You'll want your outfit to be festive and comfortable at the same time. I love to wear ankle pants and flats! And who doesn't adore a pretty apron!?
Open House Hostess


Next on the list? Music! Music is such an important part of any party, it really sets the mood! I like to have upbeat music playing throughout the night but I also know not everyone appreciates Mele Kalikimaka and All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey or for that matter, Wham's Last Christmas. ha! A good mix of everything is always the best.

Here are a few CDs that create a beautiful holiday evening:

  • Bing Crosby

  • James Taylor

  • Potterybarn Trilogy Volume 1 (very good!)

  • Michael Bolton This is the Time The Christmas Album

  • Kenny G Faith A Holiday Album

  • David Osborne Home for the Holidays

  • Quiet Christmas is an instrumental CD

A sampling of songs: O'Come, All Ye Faithful, O Christmas Tree, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Christmas in New Orleans, Baby It's Cold Outside, It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, White Christmas, Sleigh Ride... oh, I could go on and on.

And last but not least, you'll want to create a small yet thoughtful party favor for your guests to take home with them. We always do ornaments. All three of the ornaments below were created for less than $2 a piece. Keep an eye on the dollar bins at your local retail stores. Also, check for large packs of simple ball ornaments. You can add ribbon, a tag and voila you've got yourself a party favor. Ornaments are great because your guests can go right home and hang it on their tree as a remembrance of the special night with close friends, food and good cheer!

I can't wait to check out all of your posts on Entertaining so be sure to link up (below) and get your posts ready for the rest of the week. Tomorrow it's all about cooking and recipes with Molly over at the Duchess of Fork! You can also add this link up badge in your posts, if you would like.
According to Nina

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*I'm going to manually add the blogs participating to this list throughout the day/week:

My thoughts: Uninterrupted How to Host a Flawness Dinner Party

Life with LeeLee and B 'Tis the Season to Entertain

Swanky Chic Fete Holiday Place Card Ideas

House of Rose Winter ONEderland Party

All About Ellie: Breakfast with Santa

Mommy Musings: Holiday Entertaining

The Tichenor Family Christmas Eve

Blue-Eyed Bride Oh What Fun It Is To Entertain!

Heavens to Betsy Hostess Gifts

Footballs and Crowns Life with the Browns

Our Love Nest Co-Hosting a Ladies Holiday Cocktail Brunch

In This Wonderful Life Christmas Entertaining

So Much to Say: Cookies Swap Party

Livin with the Lindseys

Living Life and Loving It Giada's 1st Birthday

The Culinary Couple Tips for Entertaining in a Small Space

Angela's Adventures MOPS Party

Love to the Moon Holiday Cookie Exchange

Forever29 Entertaining Tips & Polar Bear Birthday

Monograms and Martinis in Manhattan/Boston Holiday Entertaining Host a Cookie Swap

Country Bunny Carrie Entertain and Dress Up

A Little Bit of Gouda: It's A Christmas Party!

The Branches: Christmas Wreath Party

Gentry Journal: Christmas Entertaining Hosting a Cookie Exchange

La Vita E Bella Entertaining Family Style

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  • Sara

    My husband and I just bought our first house and we’re planning to host an open house/housewarming soon, so this is incredibly helpful!

  • http://www.countrybunnycarrie.wordpress.com Carrie

    I can’t get the link-up button to work on my blog! http://www.countrybunnycarrie.wordpress.com. Can you help?

    • http://www.accordingtonina.com Nina

      I’ve been looking at it and can’t figure out why it’s working for some and not for others. You can pull the image right off my post and post it into your post just like a regular picture. I’m so sorry!

  • http://www.lavitabellaamp.com Adrienne

    Thanks so much Nina! Great post! Sorry I was late to link up! Ahh the life of a teacher!

  • http://www.vineyardloveknots.com Lindsay

    o0o I just my hands on a copy of the InStyle book. Someone decided to give theirs up and left it on an apartment giveaway table in perfect condition. Glad to know it’s a good one to have!

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  • http://timshacoleman.blogspot.com/ Timsha Coleman

    I love this, I can’t wait to refer back to it next year when we plan our Christmas party!

  • http://suburbanclassic.blogspot.com ABS

    Love this post!
    I absolutely adore entertaining, but always fail to find creative ideas for the menu. I really like the endive recipe as well as the paprika chips!

  • http://weatheredgrace.blogspot.com Angie

    I love the ornaments as gifts idea!

  • http://www.justwaittilyouhavekids.blogspot.com Heather

    You sure do know how to throw a party! Thanks for the tips!

  • http://www.mommymandymusings.com Mandy

    I love the idea of giving your guests ornaments as favors!!

  • http://www.thenixonhouse.blogspot.com Angie N

    such an awesome post!!! I am so pumped for this week….not that I have great tips/ideas, but I love hearing everyone’s :)

  • http://Lifeasacaliforniawife.blogspot.com CAwife

    It looks like you definitely know how to host a fabulous party Nina! My parents always used to host a Christmas open house too, and I really miss it. It’s definitely one of those traditions I hope to start someday. Thanks for all of the great tips!

  • http://xoxoteacherista.blogspot.com/ Carly Haslee

    Amazing, amazing tips! Thank you so much for providing such detailed information!


  • http://www.mythoughts-uninterrupted.blogspot.com Laura

    Thanks for all the great tips Nina! I cannot wait to see all of those recipes tomorrow. They sound delicious!