As the first snowflakes fall and lights are strung on homes across the city, the season’s holiday festivities will soon be underway. With holiday party planning in full swing, it’s time to prepare for wonderful gatherings with friends and family. After all, the holidays are about spending quality time with the ones we love. When hosting such a momentous occasion, it is important that each and every detail is just right. Consider this your holiday planning checklist to host the most memorable evening. 

First and foremost, your home must be in order. This means a deep cleaning of where the party is taking place is inevitable. Once you have a tidy space to work with, home accessories and decor are key to creating an inviting space. We want guests to feel at home as soon as they walk into the door. There are several ways to do so and they don’t require much heavy lifting. 

Scent: Virtue Alchemy Candle Co.

2064 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647


Just as holiday drinks are raved about, so are the scents. Ensure that everyone is met with a sweet and delicious home scent. Your sense of smell enriches your experience of the world around you. The aroma from your meal preparation is not enough. Lighting candles or setting out incents is the perfect way to make your home warmer and cozier instantly.

Virtue Alchemy Candle Co. has a great assortment of seasonal candles sure to please any guest. They have peppermint bark with minty and chocolate notes that create a delicious aromatic treat. There are also scents like frosted juniper for a more nature-like fragrance and pomegranate and red currant for a bright citrus fragrance.  Or, you can check out the other famous candle shops in Chicago.


Bathroom: Abbey Brown Soap Artisan

1162 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642


Now that sweet scents pervade your home, it’s time to replenish anything your guests may need while at your home. While these may seem like basic items, they are imperative to have when hosting any event. Bonus points if they smell nice! 

Soap and hand lotion are two items that are a must in every bathroom and at every sink. With people frequently using your bathroom or washing their hands in the kitchen before dinner, the soap should be filled and hand lotion available (it is winter and our skin is extremely dry). A pleasant-smelling soap and lotion are little things that truly matter. Abbey Brown makes moisturizing olive oil soaps if you want the best of both worlds. They are masters in their craft, making everything in-house with care. The peppermint and cranberry scents are perfect for your holiday gathering!


Decors: Christkindlmarket

Once the guest’s needs are taken care of, you must prepare everything you should need for the night. This means all kitchenware, napkins, table setting, decor, and bar accessories are in order. Take stock of what you have and hit the store for everything else. What may seem like unnecessary purchases are actually functional for year-round use (minus the Christmas decor, but that’s what the crowded storage closet is for). 

Of course, there is a Target in every Chicago neighborhood, but what’s the point of getting mass-produced things when you live in a town of personality and hand-crafted goods? To impress your guests, try hitting the Christkindlmarket in Aurora, Chicago, and Wrigleyville. You can find embroiders with traditional lace products, including tablecloths, runners, and doilies from Plauen, Germany. They even have ornate decor like beautifully-carved wooden Santa Clauses and traditional wooden and glass Christmas tree ornaments.

Home Bar: Chicago Bar Store

2951 W Diversey Ave. Chicago, IL 60647

Arguably the most important items to prepare are drinks and bar accessories. The holidays are a time to be merry and there is no better way to lift your guests’ spirits than a stocked bar and fridge. There should never be an empty glass! If you want to impress your guests, start with upgrading your home bar — you need the pro tools to make pro drinks!

Swing by the Chicago Bar store for all of your cocktail crafting needs. They sell garnishes like dehydrated oranges and lemons to elevate any homemade drink. They also have a wide range of glassware, from cider classes to craft beer glasses. The finishing touch on any holiday drink is snowflake-shaped ice cubes (for my overly ambitious party planners). With all of this drinking, be sure to stock up on a few of their games like a magnetic dart board or poker and liquor box. Just because we no longer experience the joys of ripping open gifts under the tree, doesn’t mean we can’t find other ways to get into the holiday spirit.

Drinks: Provisions Uptown

4812 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640

If you are looking to have a fully stocked fridge and bar cart be sure to visit one of Chicago’s one-stop shops for truly unique findings. You can hit Provisions Uptown to expand your drink variety. They sell wine, spirits, beer, hard cider, N/A beer, soft drinks, and mixes. You can cater to pretty much any preference! They also have bitters, shrubs, and syrups to shake up a delicious martini or old fashion. The holidays are about tradition. You can even start a new one this year! Come grab a unique spirit, beer, or wine that everyone must try and bring something new each year to do the same. 

This list is near complete. We’ve prepared the home upon entrance, adorned the space and table people will occupy, and stocked the fridge and ice bucket to keep every cup brimming. The rest is up to everyone else! You now have set the stage for a party no one will surely forget. They may even beg you to host every get-together.

Sweet Treats: Amy’s Candy Bar

4704 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

If you’d like to seal the deal as the best holiday host, pick a sweet treat for guests to grab a handful on the way out. Place an order at Amy’s Candy Bar and pick up delicious sweets to satisfy any sweet tooth. Leave a lasting impression with a jar of Amy’s smooth apple cider caramels out for the taking. Or, check out other craft candy shops around the town for one-of-a-kind treats! You can also grab some gourmet popcorn from one of these spots!

If you’ve gone category-by-category through this list, rest assured that your friend will be impressed with your hosting abilities! But, just so you wrap up your holiday weekend properly, don’t forget to get your last-minute Thanksgiving take-out orders into one of your favorite local restaurants so your guests can enjoy the high standard of Chicago’s food scene. That’s it — Happy Thanksgiving!

Featured Image: Chicago Bar Store

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