After a long, socially-distanced year, most of us are longing to gather with loved ones once more for the Christmas holiday. When planning an in-person holiday party, it never hurts to take a few precautions to make sure everyone is comfortable, even if it means a few twists on annual traditions. To get you started we’ve compiled our own list of hosting tips for socially-distant holiday entertaining.

Host Outdoors

Texas rarely gets snow, so it’s a pretty safe bet that the weather outside won’t be all that frightful. It might even be delightful. Host your holiday party outside by decorating a back patio with an outdoor tree, decked out with your hardiest ornaments, light strings, and setting out chairs with warm blankets. 

traveling for the holidays 2020

Before the Party Starts

Not everyone can make the trip, especially if a guest isn’t feeling well or lives far away. If not everyone on your guest list can arrive in person, set up a Zoom call on the TV or a laptop, so that they can pop in and toast to the season with everyone else, even if it’s from afar. 

Decorative Face Masks

Turn face masks into a part of the party. Have the kids decorate white cloth or standard issue face masks with cotton ball Santa beards, red Rudolph noses, glitter, sparkles, and more. Whoever designs the most creative covering gets first crack at the dessert table.

Small Tables

Instead of one long dining room table, set up clusters throughout the house, encouraging people to gather more intimate groups and give everyone a chance to switch tables between courses. Conversations will be more personal in smaller groups and, as a bonus, there will be fewer people fighting over the butter dish. 


Cut down on the clean up. This time, skip the cloth napkins in exchange for paper towels, easy to use and throw away, in order to keep surfaces a little more clear and clean. 

shutterstock 1794491035
Shutterstock. Com

For the Road

Some guests will be facing down a long drive post-holiday party, have gift bags set out with snacks for the road. Pack everyone a little container of hand sanitizer, roasted nuts, trail mix, and a little bit of candy: save them a trip to the gas station for snacks and keep them from getting hungry or tired on the journey home. 

Movie Night

Pop some popcorn, don your jammies, and host a movie marathon in the living room. Whether it’s Harry Potter, Star Wars, or the Disney lineup, we suggest making a fort of pillows and blankets for optimal viewing.

holiday party 2020

Host a Casino Night

Grab a bowtie, hot wings, and potato skins to host a homemade casino night. Invite a few friends over and set up basic games like blackjack and poker, even go fish for underage guests. Gather your chips, players and keep your cards close to the chest. 

Letters from Santa

Host a letter writing campaign. Gather the kids at the table and let everyone write all their holiday wishes on paper, complete with drawings and details. A few days later, Santa can reply, letting kids know what’s up in the North Pole. Stick Santa’s replies in the freezer for a while for extra authenticity. 

Board Game Tournament

When hosting a board game tournament, it’s important to keep your brackets organized. Set up Sorry!, Candyland, and more (everything except Monopoly), and everyone can participate, playing for bragging rights and maybe an extra late bedtime.

shutterstock 1824469985
Shutterstock. Com

Camp Outside

Just because travel is limited doesn’t mean your holiday party has to be. Since Texas is known for mild winters, take advantage of the weather and set up a peaceful campsite in your own backyard. Set up sleeping bags, pack trail mix and s’mores supplies, and leave the phones inside. Go to sleep under the stars. 

Originally published in the November/December 2020 issue.