The holidays are the most festive time of the year, and no holiday season is complete without a party or two with family and friends. Be it to celebrate a religious holiday or to ring in the New Year, a holiday party is an essential element to the holiday season.

While it’s always great to be a guest, hosting a holiday party is a great way to show friends and family how much they mean to you. This holiday season, consider the following tips to ensure your holiday party is as memorable as the season is merry.

* Make it a themed party. The holiday season is filled with festivities, from office parties to neighborhood gatherings to gatherings with family. For more casual affairs, set your party apart with a theme. For example, a Christmas sweater party, where each guest wears a Christmas sweater, can be a fun way to excite guests and inspire a few laughs. Give a prize to the guest with the most ornate sweater. If sweaters aren’t your thing, then encourage guests to dress up like some favorite holiday characters, including Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman or even Rudolph.

* Don’t forget the holiday fare. Just like parties are a staple of the holiday season, so, too, are certain foods and types of music. Few people indulge in some eggnog outside of the holiday season, so make sure there’s plenty of eggnog on hand. And don’t forget the gingerbread cookies, either. As people enjoy holiday goodies, make sure they do so with holiday music playing in the background. Choose songs that guests know and to which they can sing along. Such sing-alongs might become especially memorable once guests have a glass or two of eggnog in them.

* Host a holiday giveaway. Though it can be fun to do a Secret Santa, chances are guests already have enough gifts to buy. But hosts can spice things up with a holiday giveaway that rewards guests. Host a holiday-themed round of Trivial Pursuit or a holiday movie trivia game that encourages guests to compete for prizes. Prizes can be small and inexpensive, but guests will be sure to enjoy some friendly competition for holiday-themed prizes.

* Don’t be afraid to take it outside. For those who live in regions with significant snowfall, consider inviting guests outside to have some fun in the snow. While fun in the snow is often left to the kids, don’t assume adults won’t enjoy building some snowmen or a good old fashioned snowball fight in the backyard. If outdoor fun is going to be on the docket, be sure to remind guests to dress appropriately. And make sure there’s plenty of hot chocolate ready once everyone goes back inside to warm up.

* Prearrange transportation home for guests. A successful holiday party is one that is safe, so be sure to prearrange travel home for guests just in case anyone overindulges in holiday cheer. When sending out invitations, seek volunteers to be designated drivers, and avoid drinking alcohol yourself. For larger parties, call a local taxi service and arrange for a couple of cabs to be on call when the party ends.

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