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Holiday Party Ideas

Over the years there have been a number of Post-family party traditions. Here are some of the parties the Posts have thrown over the years and what they loved about them. Use this list as inspiration for your holiday gatherings this year. If you have a holiday party that you'd like to share, please share about it on social media and either tag us or send it to us via DM (Instagram: @emilypostinstitute Facebook: The Emily Post Institute) or you can join our Substack newsletter for FREE and share it in the Monday comments.


These are some of the Post's favorite parties from over the years, we hope they'll inspire you to host a party for your friends and family this holiday season! 

The Cookie Swap Tea Party

This was a great party for young kids. It gave them a chance to dress up, wihtout the actual event being fussy or fancy, the kids were able to engage in something formal but still fun. Kids and parents both attended, in the 80's this party was "for the girls" with moms and daughters showing up in dresses. But we think kids and parents of all genders could enjoy this lovely event. Each guest (or really each family) that attended brought cookies to swap. The kids had their own little tea parties (with tea and cocoa) while the parents got to hang out together (with tea and coffee). Each guest was requested to bring a tin of cookies to share and to load up with during the swap. Once all guests were gathering the swap took place, and then the tea parties began. Total time: 2.5-3 hours.

The Leftovers Party

This party started as a post-Thanksgiving (yes we couldn't resist the pun) party to get rid of the massive amount of leftovers that a 25+ person Thanksgiving created. Guests invited were friends we hadn't celebrated the holiday with (though you could certainly invite your holiday guest list too or in addition.) and while the Posts did this party after Thanksgiving, you could do it as a follow-up to any holiday. Guests arrive, you guessed it, with their leftovers from Thanksgiving and everything gets set out for everyone to take samples of (or even full portions if possible) the spreads from the different households. A super casual party, everyone would hang out and get to dip into the leftovers buffet often with some form of sport or maybe a good movie playing in the living room. Meant to be an easy way to gather with friends after being with family and use up a lot of great leftovers, this party became a Post-Family Favorite for years!

The Traveling New Year’s Eve Party

Traveling parties are fun - one house hosts the hors d’oeuvres the next takes on a main dish, and the final house provides dessert. New Year's Eve makes for an especially good holiday to do a traveling party since it's right after the rush of December holidays, being responsible for just one part of a party rather than the whole thing holds some appeal. At the Post Family Traveling New Year's Eve party Tricia and Peter Post would host the dessert portion of the party along with a bonfire. There would be cocoa and marshmallow roasting, (of course s'mores for those who want to) and lots of easy-to-eat, bite-sized dessert items like mini profiteroles and eclairs, or a platter of mixed cookies. Decoration like star-shaped confetti sprinkled on a dramatic-looking black tablecloth and frosted grapes that accompanied a cheese platter (set out for those who don't have much of a sweet tooth) made for a special New Year's party look. There was also an activity for those looking to mark the occasion. Guests could write down their wishes for the new year and then throw them into the bonfire at midnight.