In the midst of all the stress of shopping for gifts, there’s nothing like throwing a joyful party with family and friends to get you into the holiday spirit. After all, that’s what the season is all about, riiight? Overwhelmed at the thought of planning a party? Fear not! We’ve got you covered.

Avoid email and Facebook and invite people the old-fashioned way. If you have the time (and the creative abilities), craft your own, but there are plenty of places across the city to find unique invitations. We like Anthropologie (80 Yorkville Ave.), The Paper Place (887 Queen St. W.) and Magic Pony (680 Queen St. W.). 

Holiday parties are a great excuse to dress up and as host/ess, you want to look the part. Are ugly Christmas sweater parties passé? Whatever, we’re still all for them. Public Butter (1290 Queen St. W.), F As In Frank (418 Queen St. W.) have some great ugly sweater options but if that’s not your thing, H&M’s holiday collection is full of pretty blouses and lace dresses. We also have our eye on this velvet tunic from Top Shop. 

Seasonal cocktails and beverages are an essential part of any holiday party, which means a trip to the LCBO is in order. If you need some ideas, their holiday website has some great options, including the classic martini and the “Spiced Apricot.” Depending on your budget, liquor can get expensive so it’s best to have enough of your own concoction for a glass or two each and ask guests to BYOB. 

Finger foods are best for practicality reasons, but they also allow you to have more variety to satisfy all of your guests. For cured meats, all-natural butcher shop Rowe Farms (various locations) and Kensington Market shop Easton’s Charcuterie (61 Kensington Ave.) are great options. For cheese, we like Global Cheese (79 Kensington Ave.) and Thin Blue Line on Roncy (93 Roncesvalles Ave.). President’s Choice (available at Loblaws and No Frills grocery stores) has a number of food products great for entertaining, including beef or chicken sliders, vegetable samosas, shrimp mini hors d’oeuvres, candy cane cookies, and more. 

So. Essential. Whether you prefer kitschy or classy, decorations help to assure guests that you’re not a Scrooge. The Drake General Store (1144 Queen St. W./1011 Yonge St./82A Bathurst St.) is great for knick-knacks, like this adorable Rudolph-esque soap dispenser. The Toronto Christmas Market (December 2-18 in the Distillery District) has vendors selling everything from novelty lights to retro Christmas movie memorabilia. Chain stores like Canadian Tire, Winners, HomeSense and the Dollar Store are also great for finding inexpensive decorations such as lights, ornaments and tinsel. You can also check out Etsy for handmade finds, including an abundance of crochet snowflakes and Christmas banners

When it comes to Christmas albums, we’re suckers for the classics – Bing Crosby, The Carpenters, Mariah Carey. If you’re looking for more contemporary tunes, She & Him have a new holiday album (“A Very She & Him Christmas”) as do the kids from Glee (“Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album” Vol. 2). And, of course, we can’t forget about the Bieb’s “Under the Mistletoe.” 

~ Caitlyn Holroyd
~ Photo of Anthropologie’s Holiday Party Invitations