Tis the season for Holiday Parties! When you attend one, you may not give much thought as to how much pre-planning a host may do prior to the event. But if you’ve ever been the host – Oh my! It can get pretty stressful.
We recently had a party for 12 and in between work, kids, volunteer work, and day-to-day household chores, thank goodness we gave ourselves two weeks to prepare! But, it all came together nicely and I’ll share some tips I think will ensure your party is a success without the stress:
1. A store-bought veggie tray is OKAY. Yes, our guests liked the hearty finger food but at the end of the night, that veggie tray was empty. Guests like to nibble and snack as they drink their cocktail and they don’t want to leave feeling stuffed.
2. If you’re serving dinner, choose something that you can make ahead of time. Have a casserole or lasagna pre-prepared so you can greet your guests as they arrive. You’ll be free to mingle with everyone instead of stuck cooking in the kitchen while your guests hover over you feeling as if they should be doing something to help.
3. Decorate with inexpensive festive décor & play music. Simple wreaths and a few candles are an inexpensive way to create a warm and cozy atmosphere. Our decor was minimal this year (to save time): a tree and a simply decorated mantle. We put on holiday music from one of our TV channels (who has time to create a playlist?!??!), lit candles and dimmed our lamps. It was just enough. We received many compliments on how cozy the house felt.
4. Serve ONE holiday drink for all. Check out Pinterest for a TON of ideas. Try a Candy Cane or “The Grinch” Martini; A Hot Apple Rum Punch; or the one I served: Pomagranate-Cranberry Sparklers. Even the guys drank it and LOVED it. If you’re worried about drinking and driving, have a list of driving services and/or taxi numbers on hand OR offer them a guest room.
5. On that note, don’t stress your guest room accommodations. We have 1 guest room but 2 couples stayed over. I knew this could be a possibility after serving cocktails so I made sure all the beds had neat and clean bedding – even if one couple had to sleep on (clean) Avengers sheets. But, it’s okay! These are our friends and no need to stress the accommodations. They were safe and slept great!
6. If it’s a relatively small party, enjoy a white elephant gift exchange. This party we hosted is an annual party and we always do a white elephant gift exchange. It’s a blast! It can be something from your home that you are no longer using; something funny; or something purchased. It’s always fun watching people switch and swap as each gift is chosen. We’ve lucked out some years with a great gift and other years we’ve gone home with a gag gift – like a singing turkey. If that’s too risky due to a more conservative group, consider something even simpler than that, like an ornament exchange.
7 If you’ve got the funds, consider hiring help. A catering service will allow you to fully enjoy the party. A bartender is also a nice addition, especially if you’re going for more complicated & diverse cocktails to serve. You might feel like you’re taking the easy way out, but in the end, you’ll be glad you got to engage in the holiday merriment along with your guests.
Have you hosted a Holiday Party (or any party) recently? What did you do to cut back on time and stress? Share your tips and success stories with us!