Holiday Party Etiquette by Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere

The top blogger shares her rules of festive engagement

Holiday Party Etiquette by Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere

Photo Courtesy of Holt Renfrew

The holiday season is officially upon us and for many this means a surplus of social events to celebrate. We caught up with Emily Schuman, the maven behind blockbuster blog Cupcakes and Cashmere. A newly minted bestselling author of a book by the same name in it she extends advice on living well, Schuman was in Toronto for a signing at Holt Renfrew. We asked for some seasonal tips when it comes to hosting a great party and attending one.


1.  “For me, the holidays [are] such a stressful time – I think they should be as worry-free and as fun as possible. So when it comes to sending out an invite, personal, hand-written notes are always a really great way [to reach out]. We are getting close to that point where an email might be a necessity as we move later into December, but I think starting off with a great invite [is key] so people know what to expect. I think [it’s important to give] as much information [as possible] about what the party’s going to be like: if it’s nibbles and drinks or ‘Come hungry for dinner.’”

2.  “You want to set the mood with good music. For me that does not necessarily mean Christmas carols, but festive [songs] going back to oldies and Motown – things that get people in good mood right when they walk in the door, so they can feel that sense of the party.”
3.  “Good lighting is key. It’s made pretty easy around the holidays just because you can string lights up, burn candles and really kind of get that whole vibe.”
4.  “I think having a signature drink is really important and [that can be] so fun during the holidays. My friend recently did one that was a ‘Cranhattan’ – basically a Manhattan but with a cranberry twist, which was so cute and festive.”
5.  “When it comes to food and drink, to keep it simple. I think a lot of times people feel like they have to go over the top, when really it should be unfussy and it should be fun and it should be low-key, even if that means you have to order in and put it on cute platters. People don’t care. It’s more about spending time with all of your guests.”


1.  “Never show up early. That’s my biggest thing. It used to be, don’t show up late, but if you’re late – it’s a party, you’re allowed to be [a little] late. When people show up to your house early that’s really difficult. I’ve had that a couple times. When people come when you’re not ready for them and you’re still in your pajamas cleaning the toilet, you’re like, ‘Hey! So good to see you…fifteen minutes early.’ So don’t show up early.”
2.  “Never show up empty-handed. And that doesn’t mean you have to buy a crazy-expensive bottle of champagne, [just] something that you love or something that you think the host would love – it can be homemade. If you put together a bouquet – if you’re going to bring flowers that’s fine – but have it in a vase already because the last thing the hostess needs is to then go searching for a vase and scissors and water. If I’m going to bring flowers, I make sure that they’re set when I bring them. Always bring something – it can be homemade, it can be expensive, it can be cheap – whatever it is, don’t show up empty-handed.”
3.  “People want you to have a good time, so engage with people that you have not met, try to get people talking, ask what you can do for the host.”
4.  “Even before you get there, ask if there’s anything you can pick up last minute. This obviously goes for people you’re a little bit closer with, but whenever I’m going to a friend’s house, I call on my way there and check if [they] need extra ice, if they ran out of this, if that ran out of that, just so that they feel like you’re there to help.”
5.  “Following up with the handwritten note is a really nice way to show your appreciation.”