Making Merry: Hosting a Holiday Soiree

Remember when we said Fall was our favourite? We lied. We absolutely LOVE Christmas. Christmas was a huge deal in our family growing up, and it still is. Every year my mom, dad and Mackenzie resurrect our 12 foot Christmas tree at the lake and decorate all day. Together, us River City Sisters always make our Grans Atom Bomb cookies, and watch the Grinch. Christmas day we have a huge feast that takes all day to prepare. Up until about 7 years ago, my mom and dad would throw a massive boxing day party at our family cabin. Christmas is basically in our blood. So its really no surprise that when we moved out of our childhood homes and into my own places, hosting Christmas events were a priority for both of us! We scoured Pinterest for a unique ideas and landed on a cookie exchange.

This year marks year 5 of Mackenzie’s annual cookie exchange, and even though we’ve all had to get really creative to find something new to bake…. She will never stop hosting it! This Year, Richelle tried something different by throwing together a Whoville Tree Party with our friend Rachelle Willows of Flowers by Willows.

So what makes a memorable Holiday Soiree you ask? Our recipe is simple and we stick to these four  basics: Festive activity, Great Menu, Signature Cocktail and low head count.

Festive Activity/Theme

At Mackenzie’s Cookie exchange everyone brings a batch of their favorite holiday goodie! It can be a family recipe, a Christmas Classic or something new. Everyone takes turns sampling each others creations and then votes via secret ballot on the winner. It is still competition and everyone takes it pretty seriously! So you KNOW these treats are all phenomenal. Then, after the winner is announced everyone gets to take a sampling of all the different cookies home. For the recipe for Mackenzie’s popular Twix Cookies she entered in the contest this year, click here.


At Richelle’s, we spent the majority of the time decorating adorable Whoville Trees. We got to choose from several different types of garland, multiple colors of glass balls, sparkly ornaments and adorable gems! It was so fun to see all the unique ideas, color schemes and themes people chose. We were so lucky to have the amazing Rachelle Willows giving us instructions and tips and providing advice for those “Type- A” crafters who wanted our trees to be just perfect (aka- everyone in the room)



Don’t feel like coming up with an activity?  Opt for a theme instead! Reindeer, Ugly Sweater, Gingerbread making competition and Secret Santa are always popular!

Great Menu

You know us by now- we are foodies through and through! So It goes without saying that we have to make sure our food game is strong when hosting. Richelle chose to focus on Epic Charcuterie + Crudite  (Thanks Spud!) at her get together, along with a few delicious desserts from some of our favorite local bakers, Sugared and Spiced and Milk and Cookies Bake Shop!


At Mackenzie’s gathering, she went with a modified charcuterie as well as Crostini with Proscuitto, Brie, Basil and Balsamic Glaze.

Signature Cocktail

Since we both hosted during “brunch hours” we opted for a Mimosas!  Richelle made hers with delicious Citrus Glow Juice provided by our friends at Spud!

Mackenzie on the other hand decided on a mimosa bar with Cranberry Apple and Cider Flavored Mimosas.

Low Head Count

This may seem a bit weird, but one of the main things that make a holiday party fantastic is keeping the group small and intimate. By hosting 15 people or less, we find we have more time to chat and enjoy each guest- many of whom we don’t get to see often enough! Plus, as a hostess, it is far less work preparing drinks and food for 15 than for 30! Beyond that, it makes the event much more relaxing and fun for the hostess- you aren’t running around like a mad person the whole time, trying to ensure everyone has everything they need! Now this is not to say you can’t host larger groups- just be prepared for the additional workload, expense and plan to exclude yourself from the main activity, as you will likely need to facilitate!

We hope these simple tips help you to make the most of your event! Happy Holiday Hosting!


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