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10 steps to the perfect holiday party

Throwing a holiday party? With these 10 stylish party rules, you and your guests will be in a mingling mood in no time.

By
Sarah Laing
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How to host the perfect holiday party

Image courtesy of Geoffrey Ross

1. MAKE A GREAT PLAYLIST
A party’s mood is all in the ear of the beholder, concludes research from Goldsmiths College at the University of London. If you play happy music, listeners are more likely to perceive those around them as having a holly-jolly good time. This is due to the “priming effect” of music: Play “White Christmas,” for instance, and you’ll be subconsciously steering the listener toward feelings of nostalgia or sadness. Play “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and, well, they’ll just be really, really confused.

A safe bet? Nat King Cole’s “The Happiest Christmas Tree.” As the chorus goes “Hoo hoo hoo, hee hee hee,” your guests will be “laughing happily.”

2. EAT AND BE MERRY
Feeling shy? Hit the crudités. Vegetables containing folic acid increase the production of serotonin, a confidence-boosting brain chemical.

3. SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION
According to Miss Manners (a.k.a. Judith Martin), it’s unnecessary to bring a hostess gift to a party (yes, even to sit-down turkey dinners!). The catch? You have to reciprocate hospitality if you don’t. So, you choose: Arrive with Belgian chocolates in hand or plan on squeezing your boss into your studio apartment later.

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4. DECORATE IN STYLE
Loop that tinsel and hang those wreaths—guests in your home are more likely to feel relaxed in a room full of curvy elements, concludes a study from Oregon State University. Partygoers will also rate the space more favourably because, according to research from the American National Academy of Sciences, gazing upon “curvilinear contour” activates the reward area of the brain. Who knew?

5. TUNE IN AND TURN OFF
Three things your guests can do with their cellphones—besides Instagramming about your amazing canapés and ignoring one another:

  • Give the “stacking game” (where everyone puts their phones in a pile on the dinner table and the first person to cave pays for the whole meal) a festive twist. Ask guests to make a tannenbaum with “branches” made out of phones. The first one to give in to the FOMO itch has to tear down the host’s real tree come New Year.
  • Along with a coat check, have a “phone check” in the form of a (well- guarded) punch bowl, where guests surrender their social-media devices.
  • Get everyone to download a snow-globe app and turn the mantelpiece into a virtual winter wonderland.

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