Make a splash with one of these creative ideas that blow the wrapping paper off traditional red-and-green soirées.
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floral table settings for Christmas
Credit: Thomas Loof

The holidays inspire hosts everywhere to put on their entertaining hats and make merry memories with their nearest and dearest. And while this annual time spent with friends with family is always special no matter what your party looks like, it's easy to fall back on tired decorations during such a busy season—items in colorways like red and green or silver and gold get recycled year after year. This time around, consider switching things up: Try one of these festive, fresh Christmas themes for your holiday party, instead.

Holiday Speakeasy

What could be more fun during the holidays than a "covert" party filled with gorgeous artisanal cocktails and an err of merry mystery? "Channel your inner Peaky Blinder and give your guests a secret password holiday speakeasy where a craft mixologist can shake up and also teach how to make seasonal drinks," says Amy Shey Jacobs, an event planner and the founder of Chandelier Events based in New York City.

Really lean into the Prohibition Era by setting up a jazz playlist for those vintage vibes and serve your drinks in an assortment of vintage decanters and glasses—the more eclectic the better. Fill the bathtub with bottles of gin and Champagne for good measure. "If you're feeling really inspired, hire a photographer to take black-and-white photos of your guests as a holiday gift," says Jacobs.

Cozy Ski Chalet

Get the fire rolling, break out the egg nog, and snuggle up together during your ski chalet-themed party. This idea has many of the same elements you'd find at a traditional winter wonderland celebration—but feels decidedly fresh and ups the ante.

"Think faux snow, mountain range balloon installations—brown-and-green on the bottom, white on top—and shot-skis for the particularly lively party-goers," says Liz Curtis, an event planner and the founder of Table + Teaspoon. "Also add some log décor, which can be as big as a log bar or as small as logs placed criss-cross on your snacks table," she says.

Have your guests dress the part by encouraging an après-ski dress code—all-white works, as do ski jackets—and pass out cute faux-fur earmuffs as party favors. You can even roast marshmallows using mini-indoor s'mores kits.

Moody Glam

Dark spaces have the power to kindle both cozy intimacy and high glamor, says Yaz Quiles, event planner and the founder of POP! By Yaz. A moody glam Christmas theme is also easier to pull off than you think and gives guests an opportunity to wear their holiday best.

Set the scene by lowering the lights, adding flickering candles throughout your space, and layering a variety of luxe textiles and accents—think velvet linens, matte metal flatware, glimmers of gold, and a sparkling white Christmas tree.

Translate the theme on your bar, too: "Dark spirits, smokey undertones, and deep-colored nectars with natural garnishes are a perfect way to serve up swanky cocktails," Quiles says. "Complement drinks with indulgent, sweet and savory fare, like baked brie with cranberries and pecans and lamb chops with pomegranate molasses."

Holiday Chili Cook Off

If your loved ones are major food enthusiasts or seasoned chefs, hosting a savory chili cook-off come Christmas will easily become the event of the season. "In this potluck-style party, invite your friends, family, and colleagues to whip up their best chili recipe—have fun with meat, turkey, and vegan," says Shey Jacobs. "You can even give prizes for the best cornbread, cocktails, or chili pairings."

Set the scene accordingly with a table designated for crock pots, a voting booth, and a selection of red wines. You can even decorate your Christmas tree with cooking and chili themed ornaments, chili lights, and red garland. For the invitation, Jacobs suggests sending a note with a wooden spoon or oven mitt.

Overstated Winter Prints

Red and green are synonymous with Christmas, but you can channel the holiday spirit without broad strokes of this classic color duo. The solution? Opt for traditional winter prints, instead. "Adopt a 'more is more' aesthetic by layering tartan in different colors, buffalo-check textiles, striped pendleton blankets, and faux fur," says Curtis. "Ask you guests to tastefully mismatch these prints so that they bring life to the untraditional décor."

For a major design moment, use wrapping paper in these winter prints to cover a 6 x 6 foot cardboard wall—then use it as a photo backdrop.

The Giving Tree

This Christmas theme is the perfect choice for anyone who wants to give back this season. Invite everyone to bring a gift to place under a "giving tree" and plan a variety of events that all aim to do good. "Have some fun stations, like holiday card making for first-responders or gift basket making for families in need, and focus on sustainable décor, like mini tree seedlings that can be planted post-event in a community garden," says Shey Jacobs. "You could also host a cookie or challah bake where everyone can create treats together to be gifted to a community center in need."

Stay on theme by sending invitations made from seeded paper, which can be planted in everyone's garden when the weather warms.

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