Holiday Party Advice from Professional Planners

Martha Stewart LivingBy Laura House
Megan Shuler and Emily Read Bentley were a creative match made on Twitter. After admiring each other's inspiring work in the virtual world, the two teamed up last January to form the Bay Area's Enjoy Events Co.

While weddings are their specialty, the duo puts their fresh, inventive, and handmade spin on everything from birthday bashes to showers. No matter the occasion, they love turning a good party into an epic one.

Just before the holiday party season hits full swing, we asked them for five ways to think beyond the traditional yuletide party or cookie swap.

1. Create a crafty reason to get together over the holidays.
Slow down during the busy holiday season with a leisurely (and useful) craft night with your friends. Pull together leftover ribbon, wrapping paper, scrap materials, and paint to assemble unique centerpiece containers. Or, create one-of-a-kind gift tags out of colorful paper, fabric, and yarn.
Plus: Holiday Crafts That Shine

2. Ditch traditional Christmas colors.
Who says everything needs to be dark green and red? Not us! Use aquas, yellows, and various shades of green. It's easy to make a stencil and paint on canvas or even an old tablecloth. Your guests will be commenting all night on where you found it or how to make it.
Plus: Make Your Own Metallic Table Toppers

3. Turn your centerpiece inside out.
Like your table settings, your floral arrangements don't need to be the same old thing either. Place air plants, succulents, moss, or other sturdy plants inside of a container or bottle for your holiday table. Remember; bunched together is best. Or, fill terrarium containers with festive confetti, cranberries, or sprigs of rosemary.
Plus: Winter Centerpiece Ideas

4. Photo booths aren't just for weddings.
The last thing a host wants to worry about is capturing the evening by running around with a camera. Set up a take-it-yourself photo booth with Polaroid cameras and let your guests have at it. Hang a backdrop, gather some old props, make a little sign, and let the fun begin.
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5. Combine dessert and after dinner drinks.
Make it easy on yourself with a two-in-one dessert! Set up a bar table with the tools for your guests to create root beer floats with Peppermint Schnapps or Grand Marnier. Add mini holiday-inspired donuts to your Irish coffee for that festive feel. Things are way better in twos, and this way you get to enjoy the party with your guests instead of being stuck behind the bar or in the kitchen.
Plus: 27 Bite-Sized Dessert Recipes