29 holiday and Christmas party theme ideas for a joy-filled celebration

A table is set with colorful glassware, food-shaped Christmas tree ornaments, taper candles, and single-stem flowers.
Paperless Post BlogHolidays > 29 holiday and Christmas party theme ideas for a joy-filled celebration

Holiday parties have a tendency to start to blend together. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Between work, friends, and family, every night brings a new opportunity to celebrate in a totally unique way. Give your get-together a memorable holiday party theme and you’ll get your party guests in the spirit of the season as soon as they receive their holiday invitation

Christmas party themes make party-planning decisions easy by inspiring—and narrowing down the options for—the holiday décor, food, music, and dress code. Ahead are a few of our go-to ideas for your next holiday party theme, as well as décor ideas from Paperless Post Party Shop and what to serve at your holiday party.

Holiday party ideas for adults

A pink invitation with a woman wearing a hat shaped like a Christmas tree; two women with beehive hairdos decorated to look like Christmas trees.
Holiday Hat” by Paperless Post; Image via Bettman / Getty Images.


Sometimes you want to jingle bell rock with your friends without the kids in tow. Whether you’re planning an office holiday party or a grown-up gift exchange, here are a few holiday party theme ideas for a grown-up Christmas party.


1. Christmas dinner party

There’s nothing more elegant and intimate than sitting down to a candlelit Christmas dinner, surrounded by holiday decorations, good conversation, and the scent of delicious foods. 

  • Invitation:Fine Pine” in festive gold and ivory.
  • Décor: Get your tablescape looking sharp with Christmas-themed placemats in festive shapes like Christmas bells.
  • Food and drink: Serve a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.
  • Tip: Enjoy the chance to mingle and meet with your guests, with the only distraction being the delectable courses you serve.


2. Stocking-stuffing party  

Know some other adults who dread this part of Christmas gift-giving? Combine efforts and create an enjoyable event with a stocking-stuffing party. Serve some Christmas drinks and snacks, and keep an upbeat atmosphere with your Christmas playlist.

  • Invitation: Family Stockings” by Rifle Paper Co. for Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Serve refreshments on Festive Pattern Tree Plates once the stockings are stuffed.
  • Food and drink: Put out quick holiday bites—such as pull-apart garlic bread—for guests to grab during the activity.
  • Tip: Invite each person to bring their family’s stockings and some stocking stuffers to share.


3. Ugly sweater party

Come cozy, get toasty, and celebrate the season in a very low-key—and potentially lowbrow—way. Host an ugly sweater party to bring out the best (or worst) of the holidays. 

  • Invitation: Ugly Sweater” by Hello!Lucky for Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Match the array of holiday patterns on your guests’ sweaters to the festive—and not ugly—Block Print Large Napkins.
  • Food and drink: Create a menu that gives you an excuse to indulge in dated but delicious Christmas party food, like Jello salad.
  • Tip: Have a contest with a few categories on the ballot and hand out cheesy trophies or candy cane prizes to the winners.


4. Dolly Parton sing-a-long 

Dolly Parton wearing a red Santa Claus-inspired outfit sitting on a chimney top; an invitation for a “holly jolly Christmas” has a retro illustration of Santa Claus waving a red mitten.
Image via Gut Feelings Zine; “Holly Jolly Invitation” by Hello!Lucky for Paperless Post.


Crank up the kitsch and host a Dolly Parton-inspired sing and drink-along. Pick up a karaoke mic, turn on Dolly’s holiday playlist, and let the good times roll. The bigger the hair and the longer the nails, the better.


5. Après ski party 

Aspen is the height—pun intended—of celebratory holiday ritziness. Cut the lift line for a night of Rocky Mountain glitz with a ski-themed holiday party. Sit around the fireplace or backyard fire pit for seasonal songs and merriment.

  • Invitation: Ski Village” by Rifle Paper Co. for Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Add color and class to your table with Joyeaux Cocktail Napkins.
  • Food and drink: Roast small bites over the fire, such as s’mores, hot dogs, or popcorn.
  • Tip: Add some fake snow around the house, or invite everyone to wear their best winter beanie for a lodge feel. 


6. Holiday talent show

Put your guests’ talents on display with a holiday talent show. With prizes for best singer, best Christmas movie reenactment, and best Hans Gruber impression, everyone’s going to talk about your party for years to come—and demand another one next year.


Family holiday party ideas

A green invitation has a window with snowy sills and a gold garland over it with a red bow; a table set with pine boughs and red and green plaid accents.
Snowy Sill” by Paperless Post; Image via Pinterest.


For many, the holidays are all about bringing loved ones together and feeling that yuletide cheer. For family—or the people who feel like family—there are some classic and new themes for Christmas parties that are sure to bring you all together. 


7. Christmas card-making party

Christmas crafts are one of the most fun parts of the season for families with younger children. Combine crafts, the spirit of connection, and your gathering in a Christmas card-making party. 

  • Invitation: Christmas Critters” by Meri Meri for Paperless Post.
  • Décor: String a Folk Woodland Garland across the decoration space.
  • Food and drink: Set up a holiday snack table far away from the card-making station—preferably with non-messy foods.
  • Tip: Provide some supplies like blank cards in different hues of paper, along with glitter paint pens, watercolor markers, and stick-on decorations. At the end of the party, families can exchange cards or send them off to loved ones far away.


8. Christmas-themed scavenger hunt party

Plan a scavenger hunt for both adults and kids to enjoy. Plant small Christmas party favors around the party location and hand out clues on where to find them. 

  • Invitation: Winter Joy” by Meri Meri for Paperless Post.
  • Décor: After the scavenger hunt, hand out warm cider or hot cocoa in Festive Paisley Cups.
  • Food and drink: Have Christmas kabobs ready for guests to eat after they’ve returned.
  • Tip: Keep most of the prizes small, like ornaments, small toys, candy canes, cookies, and other sweets, but offer some bigger prizes for the person who finds the more difficult clues.


9. Plaid tidings party

Shake up the ugly sweater soiree with tartan, whether it’s a scarf, socks, or a tie. This holiday party theme isn’t too daunting but great for sparking conversation. 

  • Invitation: Plaid Tidings” by Cheree Berry Paper & Design for Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Match your décor to the theme with Dress Stewart Tartan Paper Cocktail Napkins.
  • Food and drink: Serve Scottish hot toddies along with your plaid theme.
  • Tip: Add a note to your party invitation for guests to dress in as much plaid as possible.

10. Cookie swap

A cookie swap invitation with snowflake-shaped cookies and cookie cutters; a table with different varieties of stacked cookies, pipe cleaner trees, and deer decorations.
Cookie Cutters” by Paperless Post; Image via Martha Stewart.


Cookie exchanges are great ways to experiment with new cookie recipes. Our design partner Cheree Berry believes that presentation is everything: “We love lining a silver tin with patterned wax paper for a pop of color, which also ensures that the doughy delights don’t stick together. Then, top it with a bow. We also love delivering cookies with cute oven mitts and leaving them behind as a hostess gift. And a print-out of the recipe as a tag is a great detail.”

  • Invitation: Cookie Cutter” by Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Decorate with Gingerbread Man Table Accents on the table, mantel, or baking workspace.
  • Food and drink: Along with cookies to snack on, have savory apps like spinach and goat cheese tartlets for guests to enjoy.
  • Tip: Place votes on the best cookies. You can give multiple prizes, like “best in class,” “best decorations,” or “most creative” to celebrate more than one winner.


11. Holiday movie night

There’s nothing cozier than curling up in front of a Christmas movie with a cup of cocoa. Bring your snug party to life by hosting a holiday movie night (there are almost too many good Christmas movies for the season, so we’ll leave you the challenging task of picking just one). 

  • Invitation: Candy Cane Delight” by Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Decorate with a classic Christmas Paper Chain with scalloped edges.
  • Food and drink: Try making a few themed bites, such as flatbread pizza with extra cheese to accompany “Home Alone” or something frozen for “A Christmas Story.”
  • Tip: Send out a Guest Survey in your party invitation to give guests a choice about the movie you’ll show this year.


12. Christmas game night

Ease a small group into the party with board games. People need to work together (or at odds with each other), plus having an activity gets people’s minds off any shyness. 

  • Invitation: Confetti Bulbs” by kate spade new york for Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Hand out Reindeer Party Hats to set the festive mood.
  • Food and drink: A table of holiday snacks and drinks is key so guests can grab the food they want and return to their games.
  • Tip: Here are some of our favorite Christmas games.


13. Gingerbread house-making party

An online invitation shows gingerbread cookies being made.
Season’s Eatings” Flyer by Paperless Post.


Gingerbread people need a place to party, too! Give each guest an assigned workplace to build their dream (gingerbread) house.

  • Invitation: Gingerbread Chalet” by Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Display gingerbread masterpieces on Jolly Christmas Dinner Plates.
  • Food and drink: Once guests finish with their gingerbread houses, have other gingerbread cookies to eat so guests don’t destroy their creations.
  • Tip: Line the table with butcher paper so once the houses are in their boxes and out the door, you can roll up the paper for easy clean-up.


Holiday party ideas for friends

Two women in 1980s Christmas-themed attire plus sunglasses with a pile of holly leaves; an invitation with oversized red and green houndstooth pattern.
Image via Glamour Daze; “Houndstooth” by kate spade new york for Paperless Post.


Here are some festive themes to try when you want to create a little extra holiday cheer with your friends.


14. Cookie decorating party

This Christmas party theme will delight your sweet-toothed friends, but take heed—it may get messy. 

  • Invitation: “Full House” by Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Pass out or display Santa and Reindeer Christmas Cookie Cutters.
  • Food and drink: Besides the delicious cookies everyone can enjoy, serve eggnog or other sweet drinks.
  • Tips: Make this party a hit by baking up a few cookie variations in advance and providing some easy decorating options, like pre-mixed tubes of icing, sprinkles, and other edible adornments.


15. Christmas murder mystery party

Do you enjoy your Christmas party with a side of drama and suspense? A Christmas-themed murder mystery party might be the perfect choice. You and your friends get the chance to dress up in your characters’ seasonal garb while acting out a holiday-themed mystery. 


16. A favorite things party

An invitation with an illustration of a red ribbon bow encircling the party details; presents wrapped in brown paper with red velvet ribbons and fir sprigs.
Red Ribbon” by Mr. Boddington’s Studio for Paperless Post; Image via Half Baked Harvest.


Instead of bringing gag gifts for your next gift exchange, ask each guest to bring something they love. It’s a great way to spread Christmas cheer (and ensure everyone gets something nice).

  • Invitation: Wrapped Up Nicely” by Mr. Boddington’s Studio for Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Light Green Mini Tree Candles for a cozy, wintery feel.
  • Food and drink: Extend the “favorite things” theme by inviting guests to bring their favorite holiday appetizers or drinks.
  • Tip: Follow our guide to hosting a favorite things party to match your guest count and budget with our go-to gifts.


17. Wreath-making party

Sometimes, all it takes to breathe new life into an annual event is an activity. Set out greenery from the local farmer’s market or your backyard for guests to get creative with—we love using evergreens, eucalyptus leaves, dried citrus slices, magnolia, or wheat. 

  • Invitation: Holly Wreath” by Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Inspire classic wreath artistry with Boxwood and Berries Wreath Paper Napkins.
  • Food and drink: Warm up with cups of soup once everyone has finished.
  • Tip: Ask guests to bring images of wreaths they’d like to recreate—and to let you know on the Comments Wall of your invitation if they need specific materials for each one.


18. Traditional holiday potluck

Encourage everyone to show off their best sides—and save yourself some work—with a holiday potluck party. 

  • Invitation: Forest Christmas Feast” by Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Place a Nutcracker Character Cracker at each dining space for a festive surprise.
  • Food and drink:  Take care of the main course and leave the rest to your guests: assign appetizers, side dishes, cocktails, and desserts to those you know will shine at the task.
  • Tip: Use Guest Surveys or add a spreadsheet signup using a Link Block in your party invitations to keep track of what each guest is bringing.


19. Holiday open house

There’s no wrong way to host a holiday open house. With pre-made drinks, nibble-friendly food, and time for the kids to roam free, open-house parties let you focus on what’s actually important.

  • Invitation: Ho Ho Holly” by Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Emphasize the “Home for the holidays” theme with holiday House Napkins on the appetizer table.
  • Food and drink: Have a signature Christmas cocktail for guests to enjoy when they stop by.
  • Tip: Learn how to host a holiday open house from Los Angeles-based caterer Annie Campbell and her tips on creating a party that feels traditional with a twist, even if it’s 60 degrees in December.


20. Scandinavian holiday brunch

A table set with white taper candles, mini trees, and pinecones; an invitation with abstract gold and silver plant sprigs.
Image via Lianne Carey; “Naatit” by Marimekko for Paperless Post.


Scandinavian design is known for its minimal elegance, but it doesn’t get nearly enough credit for its array of cozy tricks to beat the brutal winters. Enjoy a Scandinavian brunch this holiday season—with all the traditional trimmings. 

  • Invitation:Greenery Garland” by Meri Meri for Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Set out tea lights and string a pink Darling Ball Garland around the tree or mantle.
  • Food and drink: Pick up gravlax and smorrebrod, and finish with lots of aquavit to chase.
  • Tip: Plan the brunch for a weekend in early December to beat the holiday party rush.


21. Hawaiian holiday 

Not all holiday parties need to be winter wonderlands. Pair poinsettias and palm trees with Christmas lights, hand out Christmas leis when guests arrive, and wish everyone a Mele Kalikimaka.


22. Christmas trivia party

If you and your friends love trivia night, infuse some holiday spirit into the game with a Christmas trivia party. Invite a local trivia company to host or plan the questions yourself. Don’t forget to plan some prizes for the winners!

  • Invitation: Holiday Wrapping” by Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Serve appetizers on Striped Dinner Plates, each with its own festive message.
  • Food and drink: Provide wine, beer, and holiday cocktails for guests to pour before the trivia game begins. 
  • Tip: Opt for seasonal trivia that’s not too obscure—like lyrics to Christmas songs, the plot twists of your favorite holiday movies, and other Christmas lore.


23. Go on a group outing

Take your party on the go with a group outing. A morning at a museum and a formal lunch is perfect for small groups during the holiday season. 

  • Invitation: Get Merry” by Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Take the décor with you with Mixed Christmas Party Hats.
  • Food and drink: Skip the party favors and spend on a luxurious lunch.
  • Tip: Plan a central location where guests can easily convene without much travel or lodging needs.

Holiday cocktail party ideas

Left: A photograph of a tray of holiday mules in copper mugs; right: a cream holiday party invitation featuring gold illustrations of holiday cocktails.Image by Half Baked Harvest; “Cocktail Cheer” by Paperless Post.


Hot toddies, mulled wine, spiced rum—there are so many delicious concoctions that taste so much better when the weather gets colder. Try these holiday party ideas and décor tips if you want to break out your bar cart.

24. A silver and gold cocktail party

Invite your guests to attend the party dressed in their finest Christmas garments, with just one stipulation—their clothing must be silver or gold. With this metallic dress code, your guests become part of the décor. 

  • Invitation: Cocktail Cheer” by Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Hang a Sparkly Star Wreath among the other silver and gold decoration items in your party space.
  • Food and drink: Serve sparkling Champagne and martinis to fit the silver and gold motif.
  • Tip: Throw this party during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to capture the elegance of each occasion.


25. Christmas cocktail tasting party

Prepare a slew of delicious, creative, and festively appropriate cocktails for your guests to enjoy. If you want this to be a tasting party, offer petite versions of each cocktail so guests can try more than one or two. 

  • Invitation: Santa Served Up” by Cheree Berry Paper & Design for Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Place Rainbow Forest Trees along the serving table or fireplace mantel for a modern take on the traditional Christmas tree.
  • Food and drink: If you’re worried about tipsy guests with crystal glassware, try acrylic instead.
  • Tip: Ask around at your favorite local restaurants, breweries, and cocktail bars, and you might find they’re willing to bring the festivities to you.


26. A Texas Christmas party

Take a bit of inspiration from somewhere that’s warm nearly year-round. Hosting a Texas Christmas party involves putting on country holiday music (you’ll find plenty!) and the best blue jeans you’ve got. 

  • Invitation: Merry Christmas, Y’All” by Paperless Post.
  • Décor: String some lights or Striped Thread Garland around a decorative cactus and put on Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas from the Family.”
  • Food and drink: Texas BBQ and beer—need we say more?
  • Tip: Ask guests to come in pearl snaps and boots—formalwear for Western fashion—and line dance the winter blues away.


27. Christmas in Provence

Use the French region’s rustic elegance to inject your annual holiday cocktail party with some Old World charm. 

  • Invitation: Covet” by Kelly Wearstler for Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Deck your halls with eucalyptus and olive branches, boughs, or garlands to give it that “away from home” feel—no passport required.
  • Food and drink: Set out earthy reds like Syrahs and serve up hearty classics like coq au vin and Bûche de Noël.
  • Tip: Play orchestral holiday music to set the mood of a classic Christmas party.


28. Winter palace party 

We might spend much of winter trying to get out of the cold, but there’s plenty of beauty to embrace in it, too. Ice sculptures and snow-themed décor are your go-tos with this party theme. 

  • Invitation: Holiday Hillside” by Mr. Boddington’s Studio for Paperless Post.
  • Décor: Add Honeycomb Reindeer Place Cards to your table when showing guests their seats.
  • Food and drink: Serve fresh blinis, caviar, and Stoli.
  • Tip: Look to “Doctor Zhivago” for outfit inspiration.


29. Make mocktails

Our design partner Jonathan Adler hosts a mocktail party every year. “My husband Simon Doonan and I are both big fans of hosting an informal cocktail—or in our case—mocktail party. It allows guests to mix, mingle, and motor if needed. There’s nothing worse than being shackled next to someone boring at a sit-down dinner party.”

FAQs of Christmas party planning

A white holiday party invitation with graphic text that reads “let’s get merry” paired with a red envelope on a plaid background.

Get Merry” by Paperless Post.


Need some extra advice on how to make your Christmas party a hit? We’ve gathered a few tips that can apply to most parties to help ensure your planning is North Pole-approved.


How do you name a Christmas party? 

Entice your invitees with a catchy name for your party. Lean on alliteration and play on seasonal words, like Cocktails and Candy Canes, A Not-So-Silent Night, and Mistletoe Madness. When in doubt, thumb through the lyrics of your favorite Christmas carols. 


What does every Christmas party need? 

While there isn’t a “holy grail” of Christmas party checklists, you can count on a twinkling success if your party has an overarching theme, enticing invitations, sinfully delicious hors d’oeuvres, a playlist brimming with nostalgic classics, and of course, halls decked out with decorations. 


How should you decorate an elegant Christmas party? 

Remember: less is more. For the outdoor entrance, enchant your guests with classic, white string lights and seasonal plants like poinsettias. For a tasteful indoor gathering, wrap tables in cozy plaid beneath winter floral arrangements or glass cylinders of pinecones and ornaments. 


How do you plan a Christmas party for adults? 

The dazzle’s in the details. Plan for entertainment, like games—especially ones that get people breaking the ice. Prepare plenty of ho-ho-holdable foods like dips, bites, and snack wreaths. And, of course, don’t forget the Christmas cocktails. From vodka Jello trees to candy cane cocktails, there are plenty of drink options to spread the holiday cheer responsibly.


Browse holiday invitations with Paperless Post

Once you’ve picked your holiday party theme, it’s time to find an invitation with just the right amount of merriment. Then, customize it to your heart’s content. Adjust the Page Style to match your party’s theme and details, and play with the font and text size, backdrop image, stamp, envelope color, and more. Photo Gallery Blocks let you add pictures of your loved ones from the year gone by—or even shots of last year’s shindig to get the party started early.

And sending Christmas party invitations is easier than ever—choose between emailing, text delivery, or sharing them as a link. You’ll receive RSVPs instantly, helping you to better coordinate your party planning.

But the holiday cheer doesn’t stop there.

Once you’ve brought joy to your corner of the world with your holiday party, wish friends near and far a Happy Holidays with our guide to holiday card ideas. Not sure what to say? We’ve rounded up holiday messages and wishes for your holiday cards and everything you need to know about when to send holiday greetings.

Spread the holiday joy this year with Paperless Post.



Browse Christmas Invitations

Hero image via Planet Deco.