12 Easy Party Themes for Your Holiday Gathering

Whether you’re a fan of traditional holiday hoopla or looking for a little something different, giving your gathering a theme will make your party even more festive.
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Hosting a Holiday Fete

‘Tis the season to gather with friends, and there’s no better way to do that than by throwing a celebratory soiree. Whether you’re planning to entertain a group of close pals or the entire neighborhood, choosing a fun theme can take your holiday party to the next level. Leave the tree-trimming get-together to Aunt Betty and take the creativity up a notch with these festive ideas that are sure to make you the most popular host on the block.

RELATED: 15 Insanely Easy Ways to Decorate for the Holidays

Snow-Day Shindig


There’s no need for snow to host a snow-day-themed soiree. The only necessities are pajamas and plenty of comfortable throws and pillows. Entertain guests with games, holiday movies, and a blanket fort or igloo. For extra fun, serve up some hot chocolate, complete with marshmallows and caramels, or make snow cones with shaved ice. DIY decorating can include cut-out snowflakes and some sprinkled faux snow here and there. To make decorating easy, grab a party kit, like this hot cocoa bar kit from Amazon that includes a decorative banner, bar signs, and other accessories.

Crafting Social


Make your holiday decorations extra special this year by taking a DIY approach and inviting friends to join in on the fun. From wreath-decorating to candle-making, there are plenty of ways to get crafty this season. Before welcoming guests, be sure to prepare the craft materials and create a festive atmosphere with holiday scents, tunes, and treats. Get the kids involved with homemade ornaments using a kit like this homemade ornament kit at Amazon, or give out styrofoam balls they can roll in glue and glitter.

RELATED: 58 Outstanding DIY Ornaments 

‘Spaliday’ Night In


The holiday season can be a hectic time of year, so it’s essential to carve out a little relaxation time. Spread the zen by inviting friends over for a spa-themed gathering. Set the mood with warm apple cider and cinnamon sticks, cozy pillows, blankets, candles, and essential oils—and don’t forget cucumber slices for the eyes. Consider bringing in a professional for mini massages and facials, or DIY it with a few at-home spa essentials, including sugar scrubs, Epsom salt foot baths, and facial treatments, like these rejuvenating face masks from Amazon.

Share a Holiday Tradition 


Host an inclusive celebration by giving friends from different cultures a chance to share their holiday traditions. Encourage guests to bring a game, craft, or food item representing their favorite rituals and customs. Create space for everyone to share, and make sure to include decorations that celebrate community and the season of light. Read a book to the kids about holiday celebrations around the world. We like “Our Favorite Day of the Year” available on Amazon.

RELATED: 20 Surprising Stories Behind Popular Christmas Decorations

Cookie Swap


Cookies make everything better, especially parties. They’re the key ingredient in a cookie swap, a quintessential holiday gathering where friends swap their favorite holiday treats and the recipes that made them possible. The best part is that everyone shares in the baking, so very little party prep is required. All that’s needed is a long table for the cookie display, some milk for dipping, and festive decorations—think sugar cookie ornaments. Be sure to have to-go boxes, like these holiday-themed takeaway boxes on Amazon, to send guests home with a sampling of leftovers.

RELATED: The Best Cookie Cutters for Baking

Holiday Costume Party


Costume parties don’t have to be relegated to October. Pull out that dusty elf outfit from last year’s office Christmas party and invite friends to dig up seasonally appropriate costumes and join in. Better yet, make it a movie-themed get-together and encourage guests to dress up as the Grinch with this Grinch costume on Amazon, Kevin McCallister from “Home Alone,” or the lamp from “A Christmas Story.” Have a contest for the best costume, or tour the neighborhood for some surprising caroling that will keep your neighbors entertained.

Gingerbread House Decorating Party 


This is a party the whole family will love. Prep includes setting up stations with premade gingerbread houses, frosting, and trays of colorful goodies for decorating. When the guests arrive, separate everyone into teams and give them an hour to decorate. Let each group show off their creation, and then give out silly awards like “most likely to be taken down by an avalanche” or “most likely to be featured in a design magazine.” Choose food, games, and decor that build on the gingerbread theme, like this wooden gingerbread man garland from Amazon.

RELATED: How To: Make a Gingerbread House From Scratch

White Elephant Gift Swap


Nothing gets more laughs at the holidays than a white elephant party. Each guest brings a wrapped gift for swapping with friends. Traditionally, everyone picks numbers out of a hat to determine who gets to choose a gift first. After the first guest picks a package, all subsequent players can either choose a wrapped gift or steal an already-opened one. Though the swap is the main event, don’t forget to provide finger foods, music, and a merry atmosphere. If you want to take the excitement up a bit, try a game made for white elephant parties, like Swappy that tells guests whether to pass, keep, or steal gifts.

RELATED: 15 Super Cool Holiday Gifts to Get Before They’re Gone

Tropical Escape


If the winter has you dreaming of days at the beach, an island-themed party might be in order. Make it look like a literal Christmas in July, with a fruit salad, Caribbean beats, and frozen drinks with festive add-ons, like these little umbrellas and fruit sticks from Amazon. Request that guests sport tropical attire, and set up beach chairs and towels for lounging around the Christmas tree.

Give-Back Blast

iStock-481543078 holiday party donating toys for christmas

As the season of giving arrives, why not spread joy to those in need with a give-back party. Choose a fundraiser to support, and then have guests contribute to it as their entry ticket. For instance, they might bring canned goods for a food drive or a donation for Toys for Tots—we of course love a good building toy, like these Legos available on Amazon. Carry the giving theme throughout the gathering by making cards for patients in the hospital over the holidays or for military personnel stationed overseas. Make it a point to give back to the community by purchasing food and decorations from locally-owned businesses.

Ugly Sweater Party


The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without an ugly sweater party. Anything goes for this one—just make sure to have the awards ready, like these Christmas sweater medals on Amazon. Keep the laughs coming by providing other opportunities for embarrassment, such as karaoke or freeze dance. Round out the theme with decorations that are every bit as tacky as the sweaters, and serve retro holiday snacks like fruitcake and cheese balls.

Gift Wrapping Gathering


Wrapping gifts can feel like a chore, so why not do it alongside friends? A wrapping party requires little more than ample space and some easy-to-grab snacks for refueling. Keep it simple with a cheese plate or a tray of cookies. For a cozy vibe, serve hot chocolate and have a holiday movie or Christmas music playing in the background. Ask guests to come with one large roll of paper to share with friends. Provide colorful decorative touches for the wrapped gifts, such as candy canes, greenery, and an assortment of bows, like these self-adhesive bows from Amazon.

RELATED: 22 Unique Gift Wrapping Ideas for the Holidays