Holiday Favorite Things Party

It’s here!  It’s here!  Our Date Night Holiday Favorite Things Party!

I hosted my first Favorite Things party to celebrate the launch of my book, Eat More Dessert.  Everyone had so much fun that it got me thinking about how to do it again, but with the guys. So last Christmas, instead of just hosting girls, I turned it into a date night holiday party and it turns out guys have just as much fun as the ladies!

The great thing about this party is how simple it is to replicate and make it your own.  You make the rules!


Our friends love to kick off the holidays with the favorite things party, so we host the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  It seems early, but it’s nice to greet the Christmas season with a festive party.

Keep in mind how the month of December can get so busy.  It feels like hustle and bustle the entire month.  Send out invites as early as possible, giving your guests ample time to plan.  We sent invites in early November to allow people time to shop for their favorite things.

Within the invite, you can name how many favorite things each guest needs to bring and what the value should be.  Last year asked each guest to choose (3) items and bring four of them.  So combined, each couple would be bringing 24 items, valued at around $5.

Everyone ended up going over the $5 limit, so this year we upped the limit to $10, and took down the quantity.  Each guest chose (3) things and brought 3 of them.   The beauty is, you could have people choose and bring one thing, two things, or ten things, it’s completely up to you!

I found our invites on Tiny Prints; classic Christmas colors (red & green) but also with a chic black background to dress them up a bit.  I loved the use of holly and incorporated fresh holly into the actual party to coordinate!


To decorate for your party, if you’ve decked your halls for Christmas, there isn’t too much additional party decorating needed! Use what you have.


Fresh greenery and wreaths are always a good idea.  I get mine at Costco every year for my doors, mirrors and staircase.  It looks so festive and smells amazing!


A Holiday Cheer lit marquee sign greeted each guest as they arrived to the Keller Farmhouse. If marquee signs aren’t your thing, write a fun holiday greeting on a chalkboard!



This year I tried something new for my dessert table.  I made a bark bar!  I have a few bark recipes my friends beg for, so I decided to do it all bark style.


I made the World’s Easiest Dessert Table Backdrop using an assortment of fresh tree branches, holly, pine cones, string and clothespins.  I love it when things turn out so darling and they are so simple!  This would also make a super cute photo booth backdrop.


A bark bar is also a great way to include your friends in the desserts.  If they ask what they can bring, ask them to bring their favorite holiday bark!  Have cake stands or display pieces waiting so it’s easy to fill when they arrive. Our bark bar was filled with flavors like salted caramel, cookies and cream, chocolate peanut butter, and of course peppermint. It was a hit!





Create party ambiance with yummy candles.  I absolutely love Illume’s Balsam & Cedar candle.  As someone who proudly owns an artificial Christmas tree, the balsam and cedar scent is the perfect addition to give your home a holiday scent!


If you have enough space, designate a bar area for guests away from the food.  I like to keep food, drink and dessert areas separate from one another (almost like a triangle!).  It creates a nice flow of party traffic, eliminating crowding around one area of your event space.

For our last few parties, I’ve hired a bartender.  It is SO worth it!  It keeps the host from taking drink orders all night and allows the host to actually enjoy the party!  We’ve worked with the Invisible Hostess here in Seattle and they’ve been absolutely fabulous.


Keep your bar menu to a minimum of 4-5 drink offerings, or less.  I like to create a couple signature drinks for each event and let guests choose from a short list.  It keeps the bartender (or host’s) job easier and doesn’t require as many ingredients.



We offered Moscow Mules with Sound Spirits vodka, Cranberry Spritzers, Lolea Sangria and Orange-Cranberry Gin & Tonics. Be sure to stock your bar with fun garnishes like fresh cranberries, orange slices, limes and mint leaves.


We served each drink in copper mugs.  It’s nice to choose one type of glassware and stick with it throughout.  Keep this in mind when planning your bar menu, as you don’t want to serve a drink that would only fill a martini glass.


Fill a beverage dispenser with ice cold water, napkins and drinks for guests to help themselves if they get thirsty.  To dress up my beverage dispenser, I added mint leaves and fresh cranberries.  It gives the water just a hint of mint and it looks so pretty!


Personalized napkins are always an extra special touch.  You can find just about every color, style and font at Tiny Prints!


In addition to our guest’s favorite things, we asked each couple to bring an unwrapped toy for a local toy drive.  It’s so easy to selfishly get wrapped up in the busy holiday month and forget there are people who need a little support. Our friends were thrilled to participate.


When hosting a Favorite Things party, you will need to set a large table for everyone’s “things”.   Add up how many guests you have and how many items they’ll be bringing, then be sure to set that many trays, cake plates, baskets, etc.  I turn my dining table into an overflowing favorite things shrine, but you can also spread the display pieces throughout the party space.

As guests arrive they’re able to set their favorite things on the table.  In addition, each guest gets a little ticket package I put together that includes cards for their name and favorite thing as well as “tickets”.  Your guests will need as many tickets as the amount of items they bring.  That way when you choose from the Favorite Things table, everyone takes the correct amount.  Harper Gray Designs always makes the cutest cards and tickets for our parties!



We break our party into three rounds.  It eliminates chaos and gives the party an agenda.  After everyone arrives and the favorite things table is set, we start round 1.  Each guest selects 3 items.



It’s always hard to pick because people come up with the most creative things!!


In between rounds guests can eat, drink and visit with one another.



If you wanted to keep your party a little less chaotic, you could draw numbers and let guests choose items one at a time.  We are kinda crazy and like the rush and excitement of everyone choosing at the same time.


At last year’s party I gave each couple a personalized Santa bag to take their favorite things home in.  This year I made sure each couple brought their bag back.  It’s perfect for taking goodies home in!





In between one of our rounds, I surprised guests with a friendly cranberry and popcorn stringing competition.  I love a party activity!


We gave couples 10 minutes to string as many cranberries and popcorn pieces as possible.  I have some very competitive friends..


All you need is cranberries, popcorn, needles and fishing lure!  For best results, use plain popcorn.  The buttery stuff just makes a mess and wants to crumble.JennyCookies_FavoriteThings_LauraMarchbanksPhotography_0109




Our winner’s garland was about five times the length of mine and Dan’s.  I do not have cranberry garland making skills.  It takes longer than you’d think!


My cute sister made a necklace out of her garland.  New fashion trend?!





In my opinion, party favors are a must.  It doesn’t matter if you’re five or fifty, everyone loves them. I sent each couple home with a Noble Current scented candle from Illume, tied in ribbon and fresh greenery.  The hexagonal shaped glass in red is so holiday mod!



Some of our guests had to get back home to relieve babysitters but others had the night off so we made sure to keep everyone entertained with pie, coffee and hot cocoa by the fire.


Stay tuned for the 2nd half of our Favorite Things party…the After Party!


If you were attending a Favorite Things party, what would you bring as your “favorite thing”?!

Photography by Laura Marchbanks

16 thoughts on “Holiday Favorite Things Party

  1. Love this idea! I think I would have brought cute and decorative ice cream bowls filled with assorted sprinkles tied with ribbon!
    What were some of the items brought? Love the vacation movie with stuffed squirrel!

  2. Beautiful party! Love your dress! Details please?!? Can you post a source list please? Would love to do a favorite things party next year!

  3. LOVE your favorite thing “Christmas Vacation” with the squirrel attached. One of my all time favorite movies, great idea! Love the look of seriousness on a couple of your friends faces during the stringing of cranberries. Clever idea!

  4. Great fun! Looking at the pictures alone can put one in the holiday spirit, love seeing that beautiful smile on my friend Mrs.Bowie!

  5. Oh my goodness I love this! After your first favorite things party, you totally inspired me to do my own however I hold it in February because Valentines is my favorite holiday. I call it our annual “Galentines” Day Favorite Things Party! If you watched Parks and Rec and love Amy Poehler, then you know where that came from. 😉 This year I love that you added the donate a toy aspect expecially since I am speaking at BASH on events for a cause! Thank you for being such a party planning inspiration to me and many…can’t wait to give you a big hug at BASH! <3

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