Two things happen when the holidays start jingling your way: First, the visions-of-sugarplums excitement and anticipation that come with the most magical time of the year. And second, the worry that comes with what’s also the most stressful time of the year. Especially if you’re throwing a holiday party for your homeowners association.

But don’t grinch out on us just yet. You can still throw a great party without losing your holiday spirit while you’re at it. Consider these tips – and you’ll consider yourself a party pro in no time.

Dream your theme.

Let’s face it: the holiday season is a marathon of festivities, and the last thing your guests need is just another box to check off of their to-do list. Mix it up by coming up with a fun theme for your party so it becomes an event rather than just another obligation. There are plenty of ways to do the standard theme (we’re looking at you, ugly sweater party), so take a beat to come up with something fresh. How about asking guests to dress up as their favorite character from a holiday film? Or a candy-cane themed Red & White Ball? You could also make your four-legged friends the start of the show by throwing a Holiday Pet Party, making Christmas karaoke the centerpiece of your event, or honoring traditions from around the world with an event that mashes up the best parts of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas (Kwanzukkamas, maybe?) – no matter what, your guests will appreciate a fresh approach.

Get professional help.

Yes, the holidays can make you crazy, so this is a great time to reach out. But before you speed-dial your therapist, we’re really talking about securing your vendors for your holiday event. A great caterer or party planner is the best gift you can give yourself. While it may be tempting for your inner Type-A to try to handle everything on your own, that’s a sure-fire way to kill your holiday spirit in a hurry. Putting together a great team of vendors will help make decking the halls less of a stressor.

Rally your elves.

You know what’s great about being part of a community? You’re all in it together. So beyond your party pros, enlist the help of some of your residents. The upside is more than just a lighter workload for everyone – getting people together to help plan and execute a party builds just as much community spirit as going to the party itself.

Time it right.

Timing, as they say, is everything. That definitely goes for holiday parties. Start letting your community know about your holiday event in November, preferably in the form of save-the-date messaging. Use all the tools at your disposal, like newsletters, eblasts, and postings in your community areas. Much like a holiday stocking belonging to someone at the top of the “nice” list, calendars tend to get extremely full this time of year.

Create a schedule.

Your party planning pros, if you’ve hired some, will help you with your scheduling. But for you do-it-yourselfers, consider making a formal calendar of to-do’s (we wouldn’t blame you if you even went full spreadsheet on this one). Trying to keep everything in your head is a guaranteed way to forget something.

Procrastinate a few things.

Yes, procrastinating is fine – in small doses. After all, some things just can’t be done ahead of time, like buying the perishable food. The main thing is to not let these last-minute to-do’s stress you out. It’s a natural part of the party process.

Do some day-of delegating.

Speaking of those last-minute details, expect them to all converge at the same time. Short of figuring out a way to clone yourself (which would be a big project on its own), the best way to handle this is by fearlessly delegating small jobs to others. It’s more important for you to supervise the last-minute decor details than to head out for an ice run.

Enjoy yourself.

Seriously. When it’s party time, give yourself permission to have a little fun. You earned it.

Get pics.

Create ways for your guests to document the occasion. Selfie spots or photo booths are a great way to do that. You can even ask guests to submit their best pics to you. The reason? You’ll want to share the fun community-wide with a post-holiday story in your newsletter.

Start planning for next year.

After you’ve aced your event, make a quick assessment of what worked and what didn’t. It’s best to do this while the experience is fresh in your mind, so don’t wait too long. With this year’s insight, next year’s party will be even better.

Remember, this is more than a party. It’s a way to spread some seasonal joy for your neighbors and residents. And sure, it’s a big responsibility – but it can also be a lot of fun. So put on your planning hat (followed by your party hat!) and enjoy this special time of year.

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