Hosting a Holiday Party Without Going Crazy
Decorating the tree. Baking the pumpkin pie. Whipping up a batch of eggnog. Getting ready for the holidays is mostly fun, inspiring all the feels that only the magical winter season brings. But if you aren’t fully prepared for your soiree, a lot can go wrong. That’s why we’ve designed this comprehensive guide to throwing a stress-free party, so that you can go into the holiday season with all warm, fuzzy feelings, and no tension.
- Devise a plan of attack. Stress only overwhelms you when you let it; there are easy ways to combat a meltdown. Perhaps the simplest is to come up with a to-do list. This basic organizational task will help you discern which to-dos are the top priorities, which can be put off until later, and which can maybe be dropped altogether. Your list should include sending out invites (digital or otherwise), planning and shopping for a menu of finger foods or a full dinner, and designing the party decor.
- Keep the menu simple. When it comes to that menu, you don’t have to go all out. Rely on recipes that you’ve already made before—a high-pressure situation isn’t the right time to experiment. Keep the ingredient list and prep time as short as possible, and opt for just hors d’oeuvres as opposed to a sitdown dinner if you can. Consider catering if it’s in the budget and if cooking really isn’t your forte.
- Pre-unwrapping-mayhem: Your gifts are hidden behind colorful sheets of paper; now what? If you have your holiday tree set up already, or any other central piece of holiday decor, cluster the gifts around it artfully. If you’re waiting a while to put the gifts on display, stow them away in a large plastic container or a big box to keep them all neat and tear-free until the big day.
- Prep ahead of time. Something else you want to keep in mind when choosing recipes is whether or not they can be made, at least in part, a few days or weeks out from the party. Can you chop up some veggies for the crockpot stew and stick them in the freezer? Can you mix the dry ingredients for the cake and stow them somewhere out of the way? You may want to say yea or nay to recipes based largely on being able to prep them ahead of time.
- Bring in the troops. Do you have a friend who’s a whiz in the kitchen or a pro at creating cute table centerpieces? Enlist him or her to help you get ready for your holiday soiree. What are friends for if not to take on the time-consuming task of icing cupcakes?
- Clean in stages. Don’t put off cleaning until the hour before your guests start to arrive. Begin weeks in advance, wiping down the bathroom here and there and recycling those pieces of junk mail and magazines that have been lying around. Cleaning a little bit at a time will leave a lot less for you to do on the actual day of the party.
- Decorate for the season. The decor at a holiday party is almost as important as the grub, so pay close attention to your adornments, too. The table centerpiece is probably going to be your biggest focal point, so incorporate elements of the season such as gourds for Thanksgiving or holly leaves and cranberries for Christmas. Even fall leaves plucked from the ground can work for a cute autumnal centerpiece (that also happens to be budget-friendly).