How to Throw a Memorable Holiday Bash

From what to wear to what to serve, this guide delivers inspiration.



In many ways, entertaining is a numbers game.

How much room do you have? How many people do you want to invite? What’s your budget?

Before you start crunching numbers, come up with a vision of how you want your party to feel and function, says Cher Przelomski, CEO of Planning Factory International in Wilmington and Bermuda.

“It really goes to style,” she says. “How do you want to style your event?”

Ideally, begin planning your holiday bash three to six months in advance, she advises. Even in a pinch, it takes three to four weeks to put together a memorable party.

A formal, sit-down dinner requires more room than an event where people stand, mix and mingle.

“If you want to keep things moving, you might want to set up multiple bars and perhaps a few lounge areas,” she says.

Przelomski sees new life being infused into events as the economy recovers.

“People are dressing to the nines,” she says. “They are hiring musicians, magicians, comedians.”

Raise the bar a notch higher by using crystal and china rather than plastic and paper.

“Go for a great goblet and serve your wine in that, perhaps a bright ruby-red glass or black glasses,” she says. “If you are serving dinner, put out beautiful chargers and a great centerpiece.”

So how do you calculate what you need to stock the bar?

“You have to look at both how many people you are expecting and how long the party will last,” says Bob Kreston, owner of Kreston Wines and Spirits in Middletown and Wilmington. “That’s always important when you are trying to figure out total consumption.”

If you’re limiting the bar to wines, figure six glasses per bottle, or eight glasses for a toast. 

Cocktails have made a strong comeback, especially whiskey-based drinks.

“Bourbon, Scotch, ryes and Canadians are stronger than they have been in the past 30 years,” Kreston says. 

Hosts also are treating their guests to premium spirits.

“Tequila is an option as are single-malt Scotches, small-batch bourbons and craft spirits from very small distilleries,” he says.

Plan on offering at least two beers, a regular beer and a light beer for guests who are watching their waistlines. For large gatherings, consider ordering beer in half-kegs or quarter-kegs.

“Half a keg is seven cases of beer,” Kreston says. “It’s more economical, but you are limited to one type of beer, unless your party is so large that you need more than one keg.”

For aficionados of craft suds, consider growlers, which hold 64 ounces of beer.

“You can get a nice variety of draft beers that aren’t available in glass or cans,” he says. “It’s an expensive prospect for a large party but nice for a smaller get-together.”

 

Secrets of Event Planners

Think of holiday entertaining as an ice sculpture.

You want it to be sparkling, beautiful and perfectly shaped. You also want to avoid meltdowns. 

At Harry’s Savoy Ballroom in North Wilmington, Jenna Jackson, special events coordinator, helps hosts craft parties to suit the occasion and the guest list.

Should you reserve a large table at the restaurant? A private room? Or bring in a caterer to serve your guests at home? “We ask lots of questions,” she says. 

Your guest count, budget and enter-taining style will determine the answers.

“If you want to keep people mingling, if you want to keep people dancing, set up high tops,” Jackson recommends. “A buffet is very easy, and is great for picky eaters and people with dietary restrictions.”

That said, keep the preferences of your guests in mind. Senior citizens, for example, may have other expectations. “They want to sit down and have the food served to them,” Jackson says.

There’s more than one way to carve out a menu. Think prime rib at a sit-down event and beef tenderloin on a small sandwich roll for a mix-and-mingle party.

At the bar, many hosts are opting for a signature holiday drink, such as a poin-settia champagne cocktail or mulled wine. Other options include: a cash bar where the host pays for the bartender but not for the drinks; a bar where the host pays for beer, wine and sodas, but not spirits; an unlimited open bar; or an open bar, offering premium brand and deluxe options.

Harry’s also offers off-site catering services, an option that may or may not result in saving money.

“The hosts could provide their own alcohol and cheese trays, for example,” Jackson says. “Then again, there are additional fees the hosts will pay to cover the staff and equipment that are going off site.”

There’s also a trend toward mid-week holiday luncheons, says Kelly Connell, director of operations at Platinum Dining Group, the umbrella entity that oversees a catering division and four restaurants: Redfire Grill Steakhouse in Hockessin, Taverna in Newark and Capers & Lemons and Eclipse Bistro in Wilmington.

At the restaurants, the staff can put together selected menus for large dinner parties to accommodate friends, extended families and businesses groups.

“It might include two or three starters, three main courses and two desserts,” he says.

Catered events in private homes typ-ically involve one server for every 12-15 guests, chefs at various stations and a manager overseeing the staff.

“A lot of people like to do parties with heavy hors d’oeuvres and perhaps a few stations,” Connell says. “Artisanal cheese displays are a big trend, as are vegetarian options. Deviled eggs have become very popular.”

Increasingly, wish lists are including vegan options, such as tapas samplers, salads and flatbreads served buffet-style, says Polly Weir, director of conference services at University of Delaware Con-ference Services. 

“We’re also seeing more requests for gluten-free dishes,” she says.

UD offers four venues in three locations. Clayton Hall in Newark, the largest and most flexible space, can accommodate 400 guests and offers a piano for live music and sophisticated audio systems for recordings.

“If it’s a corporate party, they can pro-ject images of previous parties or people who work at the company,” she says.

In Wilmington, historic Goodstay Mansion can accommodate an average of 100 guests and Arsht Hall includes a theater in addition to meeting and entertainment space. Virden Retreat Center in Lewes offers various options for entertaining as well as 23 rooms for those who want to stay overnight.

Getting an early start is essential. 

“For a very large party, more than 200 people, it’s best to get your request in a year in advance because there are only three weekends in December and Friday is the most popular night,” Weir says. “We have professional event planners on staff who can get you exactly what you want.”

Dressing for the Holiday Party

The holidays are a time to sparkle on the social scene. Here is advice on ways to look your best from Janice Venema, who owns Lady’s Image boutique in North Wilmington with her sister, Jane Strobel:

DT: I’m hosting a large party and can’t decide what to wear. Where do I start?
JV: Your No. 1 concern has to be comfort so that you can be the best that you can be for your guests. Hostesses are looking for easy. Layering is a safe choice. Leggings or skinny pants, then a tunic over that, with a jacket over that, either cropped or tunic length. A fur vest would be fun.

DT: There are so many cocktail parties during the holidays. What is the appropriate attire?
JV: I call cocktail attire “smile clothes.” Beautiful pants. Tunics and statement jewelry. Metallic dresses that are shorter in length. 

DT: What about colors?
JV: Navy blue is the new black. And charcoal. Accent colors in emerald green, sapphire blue, ruby red. We also love a beautiful pale blue with a silver tone.

DT: What’s new in fall and winter fashion?
JV: Prints and florals. Usually, we see florals in spring and summer. This year, there are fabulous tapestry prints in florals for fall. We’re also showing lots of lace and open netting that kick it up a notch for the holidays. And much less beading. It’s a sprinkling here, a sprinkling there, not the all-over beading.

DT: Skirts versus pants?
JV: We are selling a ton of skirts and dresses. It’s fresh.

DT: What are great finishing touches?
JV: We are seeing a lot of bling in jewelry, an 18-inch necklace at the throat, a cascade of bracelets, larger earrings and multiple rings. With tunics, we are seeing longer necklaces, 30 inch and 36 inch, and never just one. We do see some sets, but the jewelry doesn’t necessarily need to match. In special-occasion bags, the most important thing is that the handbag accommodates a cellphone. A cute purse is the bow on the package.

DT: What is a must-have item for the holiday fashionista?
JV: She should have a coat or jacket that is appropriate for evening wear. You shouldn’t put a trench coat over your gown or cocktail dress. 

DT: What is this season’s go-to piece?
JV: A little metallic top that says “this is a special occasion” that you wear with a skirt or pants. Separates tend to be more forgiving of where we are on the weight scale than a fitted dress. 

Lady’s Image | 3910 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 478-7921, www.ladysimagefashions.com

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

January 2017

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Sports Card & Collectible Show at Aetna Fire Hall on Jan. 22—sign up now! -Sports Cards McFarlane Figures Comic Books Non-Sports cards Wrestling Items Vintage Starting...

Cost: $2

Where:
Aetna Fire Hall
400 Ogletown Road
Newark, DE  19711
View map »


Sponsor: A2Z Promotions
Telephone: 302-983-2636
Contact Name: Bob Harper
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Belly Dance Classes with Zahra Beginner & intermediate classes open to teens and adults Sundays in January starting Jan 8th Beginner: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Intermediate: 1 - 2 p.m (must get...

Cost: $15-$42

Where:
Take the Lead Studio
320 Lantana Drive
Hockessin , DE  19711
View map »


Sponsor: Take the Lead
Contact Name: Zahra
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Ah, typecasting—the baritone is always the bad guy! In Devils, Drunks & Dastardly Dudes, we’ll go on an operatic journey of men behaving badly. We’ll add a tenor to the mix, too… but we...

Cost: $29-$59

Where:
OperaDelaware Studio
4 South Poplar St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: OperaDelaware
Telephone: 302-442-7809
Contact Name: Mary Wilcosky
Website »

More information

Come give curling a try! At this 2-hour intro-to-curling event we'll provide a basic lesson then coach you through a mini-game.  Whether you just want to cross #curling off your bucket list or...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Pond Ice Arena
101 John Campbell Rd
Newark, DE  19711
View map »


Sponsor: Diamond State Curling Club
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Notbybreadalone Ministries presents Feeding the Hungry Outreach. All are welcome to come and partake of food, fun and fellowship. Those who desire a better way of life through Jesus Christ are...

Cost: Free

Where:
2nd and 3rd Streets
Wilmington, DE  19801


Sponsor: Notbybreadalone Outreach Ministries
Telephone: 442-0440
Contact Name: Ministers Wayne and Stephanie Dumpson
Website »

More information

Guest speakers Patty Dailey-Lewis, executive director of the Beau Biden Foundation, and Delaware Family Court commissioner Loretta Young will discuss how participation in social media can too...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilmington University - Dover
Building A Auditorium
3282 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington University College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
Telephone: 302-295-1164
Contact Name: Dr. Johanna Bishop
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmers Market Nov 8, 2016 - April 11, 2017  11 am- 2 pm 25 vendors Location:  East Coast Garden Center 30366 Cordrey Rd Millsboro, DE 19966 302-945-3489

Cost: frr

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
View map »


Sponsor: East Coast Garden Center
Telephone: 302-945-3489
Website »

More information

East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmer's Marke 25 vendors

Cost: Free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
View map »


Telephone: 302-945-3489
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

A four-week series of ballroom dancing classes taught by teachers from the BlueBallroom. Tuesdays starting Jan. 10. Classes are $30 a lesson for Non-Members. Non-Member slots are limited. For...

Cost: $30

Where:
University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

Thursdays from 4:00PM-5:30PM Fall session: December 1st, 8th and 15th Winter session: Starts January 19th, every other Thursday until March 30th This program is based entirely outdoors and is...

Cost: Cost: $30 for TLC members / $40 for non-members

Where:
Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Rd
Avondale, PA  19311
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

MARC BROUSSARD In 2004, Marc Broussard, then a precocious 22-year-old singer/songwriter, released his major-label debut; he called it Carencro, after the Louisiana town where he was born and...

Cost: $22 SRO- $32 SEATED

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tutto Fresco has live entertainment every Friday night from 6:30–9:30 p.m. Call for details. http://tuttofrescode.com/

Where:
Tutto Fresco
514 Philadelphia Pike
Wilmington, DE  19809
View map »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

More information

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

January 28 – Saturday – 1 to 4 p.m. Science Saturday – Truss Me, You Won’t Fall! Become an engineer for the day. Design a bridge to hold as much weight as possible....

Cost: Activities are included in regular admission and free for members.

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Hagley Museum
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

GRILLED CHEESE AND CRAFT BEER TASTING We have taken two of the best things on earth and paired them together – Grilled Cheese and Craft Beer – and paired them together in unexpected and...

Cost: $40

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

More information

Saturday, January 28, 2017 at  7:30 pm at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 763 Valley Forge Rd, Wayne, PA 19087 Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 3 pm at Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square...

Cost: Tickets are $25 online, and $30 at the door. Student tickets $10 at the door.

Where:
Church of the Holy Trinity
1904 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA  19103
View map »


Sponsor: Lyric Fest
Telephone: 215-438-1702
Contact Name: Jessica Nelson
Website »

More information

Fan favorite, Dick Smith, returns to the Dickinson Theatre Organ Society concert stage on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 for a show that is sure to bring the house down! Dick Smith has been a...

Cost: $15 Adults; $10 Students

Where:
John Dickinson High School Auditorium
1801 Milltown Road
Wilmington, DE  19808
View map »


Sponsor: Dickinson Theatre Organ Society
Telephone: 302-995-2603
Contact Name: Bob Dilworth
Website »

More information

The Dickinson Theatre Organ Society presents Dick Smith. For tickets, click here: http://www.dtoskimball.org/events-tickets/ticket-information/ For further information, please call us at...

Where:
, DE

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

More information

MOTHERSHIP Mothership is the area's premier Led Zeppelin Tribute show. Composed of seasoned, professional musicians Mario Padovani - vocals, keyboards, Frank Ginocchio - drums, Chris Julian -...

Cost: 15

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module