Formally Festive: how to be the hostess with the mostest (+ giveaway!)

This weekend, my friend Kelsey and I hosted our annual holiday bash, Formally Festive, for the sixth time. We’ve known each other since high school and attended Queen’s together, so we have a ton of mutual friends that we love to get together with over the holidays.

While a lot of things about Formally Festive have changed (like us forgetting to take a hostess photo this year and the length of my hair), one thing never has: Kelsey & I always have a plan in place to ensure none of our guests drink & drive.

No one likes to get preachy with their guests, so there are a few easy things you can do to ensure your guests have a great time while staying safe at your holiday bash.

1. Have food on hand throughout the night

Having a spread of delicious eats on hand is not only party etiquette 101: it also forces your guests to put the drink down long enough to put something solid in their stomachs. We’ve all fallen into the trap of having a light dinner pre-party with the plan to eat more once we arrive, only to end up having a liquid meal. Having food readily available and serving up new treats throughout the night is the best way to keep your guests safe & happy. The star of this year’s party? My co-host Kelsey’s Boston Bruins-themed birthday cake! 

2. Encourage guests to take public transit, have designated drivers or crash overnight

Along with our invite each year, we always include easy-to-follow directions for public transit, as well as offering up spots for guests to stay overnight. As a party host, you’re liable for your friends’ safety – both legally and for peace of mind – so provide your friends with options for safe travel to and from your party. A number of cab companies (and apps/services!) are offering up holiday deals, so keep your eyes peeled.

3. Serve up non-alcoholic drinks for DD’s and imbibers alike

There’s no need for your designated drivers to feel left out – mocktails and punches are a great way to quench their thirst and provide an alternative for other guests between alcoholic beverages. The LCBO-sponsored Deflate the Elephant website has some delicious recipes for holiday-themed mocktails that will make your guests forget they’re not imbibing. This recipe from one of my favourite Twitter ladies, Dee the Cocktail Deeva will get your guests in the spirit.

4. Deflate the Elephant

Despite your careful planning, it’s possible that you’ll have a friend who tries to get behind the wheel after a few too many. Keeping them from leaving may be hard, but it’s necessary. The LCBO’s Speak Up! iPhone app is a good way to keep your guest occupied while you call them a cab and can also open their eyes to the fact that they’ve had just one too many.

This holiday season, the LCBO’s Deflate the Elephant campaign has partnered with C0-op Cabs and Cabcom in Toronto to encourage people to plan ahead and get home safely. Every Saturday, starting December 8 until December 29, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., there will be a small number of specially outfitted cabs in Toronto with a large lit up elephant sign on the roof. If you spot one these special cabs and hop in, you’ll receive $10 off your ride!

If you happen to spot an elephant cab in the city, make sure you snap a pic and tweet it with the hashtag #TOelephantsighting for your chance to win a holiday hosting gift basket!

The LCBO, Co-op Cabs and Cabcom have also given me a gift basket worth $200 to give away to one lucky reader this holiday season! Whether you use it for yourself or gift it to a lucky hostess, it’s a great addition to any holiday party.

All you have to do is like this blog on Facebook and tell me what your #1 holiday hosting tip is in the comments. For extra entries, you can tweet a link to this contest and follow Co-op Cabs on Facebook & Twitter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy holidays!

Disclosure: I was contacted by the PR company handling this campaign for editorial consideration. As a thank you for hosting this giveaway, I’ll be sent a smaller gift basket of my own for the holiday season. As always, you’re seeing this content because it’s something I’m passionate about.

  • ShambledRambler

    I’m not much of a hostess these days (it can be hard in a small one-bedroom), but my #1 hostess tip would be to have an amazing playlist. Good music is hugely important to any kind of gathering, and it’s good to have a pretty wide array for random requests!

  • Beautezine

    I have these really cute wine glass markers, and I always let my guests choose which ones they want so they keep track of their glass all night and can set it down without worry of mixing them up! Lets people get more involved with games and food!

  • Beautezine

    I have these really cute wine glass markers, and I always let my guests choose which ones they want so they keep track of their glass all night and can set it down without worry of mixing them up! Lets people get more involved with games and food!

    • @Beautezine Great idea! I’m so bad at keeping tabs on my drinks – I always end up having to fill up a new glass.

  • loucheryl

    Thanks for the chance to win this awesome basket full of yummy goodies!  Merry Christmas!

  • juddrnaut

    This looks great! I’m not doing any hosting but this would make a couple hostesses I know very happy.

  • sassygirlcanada

    Make sure to have enough options for those who have food sensitivities, and those who are vegetarians,and get the cute little markers for the wine glasses. Great contest! 🙂

    • @sassygirlcanada Great idea! Getting to know your guests’ needs is one of the best ways to be a great hostess. Love the idea of the wine glass charms, too.

      • sassygirlcanada

        @stephaniefusco Thanks Stephanie!! Happy guests equals a fun party!! 🙂

  • saskmom

    Great post!  That food looks so delish!  Your dresses look fab as well!

    • saskmom

      My holiday hosting tip is to prep everything beforehand as much as possible so that you can enjoy your company when they come and not be running around all the time when they get there.

      • @saskmom Thank you on all counts! This annual party is my best excuse for a new dress, so I always make sure it’s as fun and versatile as possible!
        That’s a great tip – it’s great when you have everything ready to go and can just have fun.

  • Love the idea of these cab companies participating in this cause, however I feel like it could be embarrassing for someone if the host were to call a cab with a lit up elephant on top, makes it kind of obvious they’re cabbing home because they’ve drank too much – although I’m sure most people wouldn’t mind and would be grateful for the cab!P.S. I love your green dress!

    • @Margaret ODonoghue Haha! Point taken. It’s my understanding that you can’t actually call that cab – it’s more of a conversation starter online and in the streets of Toronto (with the added bonus of getting $10 off your ride if you hop in).
      And thank you! It’s by Pink Tartan and definitely one of my best purchases of the year.

  • KarrieKwong

    Looks like you had an incredible Christmas party!!

    • @KarrieKwong It was so fun! Probably the best one yet 🙂

  • summerxskin

    This gift basket is incredible, hope I win! Tehe.
    P.S. you have the best giveaways! I’m so impressed.

    • @summerxskin Fingers crossed! And thanks 🙂 I’ve had some great partnerships in the last little while.

  • JenneeJade

    My top hostess tip would be to prep as much as you can beforehand so you can enjoy the party as well and JUST HAVE FUN. Remember why you love hostessing in the first place!Great giveaway!

    • @JenneeJade Such a great tip! It can be hard to remember to have fun at your own party. Here’s to enjoying the season 🙂

  • Colleen Cole

    I love your holiday tips – we always make sure there are beds available for those who cannot drive home. Beside, breakfast the next day is so much fun!

    • @Colleen Cole Thanks! Next-day breakfast with guests is always a great time.

  • melzzz

    That deflate the elephant app is GENIUS! I’m hosting a christmas party this Saturday, and as the host, I need to ensure the safety of my guests.  This blog post was perfect! Happy Holidays!!

    • @melzzz The app is so cool, right? Best of luck with your holiday party!

  • XtraBigEars

    I want. I want. And I’m a good boy too when it comes to stuffing guests’ faces while they drink.

    • @XtraBigEars Nothing wrong about plying your guests with food!

  • Misschenessa

    Love this! Food is so essential. Have a wide variety for different appetites and if I were hosting a party, I’d be sure to cater. Nobody wants to eat my cooking, drunk or sober :S

    • @Misschenessa The first step is acceptance 😉 I’m all for catering (and paper plates).

  • CocktailDeeva

    FAB blog and you all looked SO GORGEOUS…thanks so much for the shout out and PARTY SAFE!! Cheers

    • @CocktailDeeva Thank you! All your drink recipes look so incredibly delicious – can’t wait to try them all out! xo

  • SummerPlewes

    Thank you. love this post!!

  • erikakomori

    My #1 hosting tip is creativity! Try to have an activity of some sort so people can bond!

    • @erikakomori Great idea! That’s so important, especially when mixing different groups of friends.

  • christinadragan

    never knew about that LCBO’s Speak Up! iPhone app. We could all use a remind once in a while, especially when New Years Eve is coming up. These are helpful tips, thank you for this 🙂

    • @christinadragan It’s a cool concept, huh? I think it’s a great conversation starter and also a great way to keep your guests occupied while you figure out how to get them home safely. Glad you liked the post!

  • JamesonHolman

    This is a truly great campaign and has additional meaning during the Christmas season. Hosting responsibly is something that we can all agree on. However, I agree that guests should also help one another look out for each other’s well-being and that can be done in a myriad of ways: knowing your limit, making sure that you are well-hydrated throughout the evening, and even foregoing drinking altogether. Some of the above recipes look even better than most alcoholic drinks. Thanks for the meaningful article, Steph.

  • rjs682

    thanks for the chance!!

  • KellyChow

    Another awesome giveaway. Also loving this app, definitely going to download it!