Entertaining Holiday Party

Published on November 29th, 2012 | by thevyne

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Your 9 Step Guide to No-Stress Holiday Party Planning

By Kailei R.

Are you planning a holiday party and freaking out because you don’t know where to start?  We have a guide for you to take the stress out of the planning and ensure your event goes off without a hitch!

1. Pick a theme. Sure, you can have just a holiday themed party and keep it simple. But if you have the opportunity to jazz it up, why not? Did you just buy your first Christmas tree? Have everyone bring an ornament! Why not do a toy and gift drive for a local charity? Want to keep things really easy on you? Have a potluck!

2. Pick a date. Thanksgiving is already behind us and December will be here this weekend. So go ahead and send out those invitations and secure that date, lady!

3. Determine amount of people. The easiest way to do this is through an online invitation site. My favorites are Pingg, Punchbowl, or if I’m feeling fancy, Paperless Post.

4. Decide on what kind of food and drink to serve. I usually have heavy hors d’oeuvres, one signature one platter dish like turkey, ham or baked ziti, and a few desserts. According to KraftRecipes.com, you should plan on 12 pieces per guest when you have a cocktail party. But don’t think you have to do everything yourself. I’m a big fan of Costco if you’re doing yourself, but having a local restaurant cater can make things a lot easier for you. In terms of drink, I like to have red wine, white wine, a signature cocktail, a non-alcoholic punch and water. If you know your guests will drink beer, add it to the list. For large parties you can save money by buying wine by the case. Don’t forget to chill any beer, white wine, etc early enough to be ready by the party. Also make sure to have enough ice on hand both to chill drinks that need to be chilled and also for serving in drinks.

5. Take inventory of your kitchen. Think about not only food and drink items, but what your dishes will be served on and with which utensils. Once you plan what you’re serving make sure you have enough platters to serve them on and make sure to have extra utensils in case guests bring a dish but not a utensil to serve it.

6. Rent tables and chairs if you need to. It’s fine not to have a place for everyone to sit at a table if the food is primarily cocktail party bites. However, having some extra chairs for people to sit and eat could make things comfortable for your guests (but make sure not to make your home too cluttered with chairs everywhere). Evaluate how much counter and table space you will need for the food. Extra counter and table space is best used to let people set their plates down, so renting some tables for the serving dishes could be worth the investment.

7. Decorate.  Let’s not get too wild and crazy here. If you have a good amount of people over you don’t want people tripping over mechanical angels, moving Santas and an inferno of lighted candles. Keeping it simple with your tree and a few accent decorations to make the atmosphere a festive one. Don’t forget tablecloths for your tables!

8. Spread out the food. Spreading out the food/drink can help prevent “traffic jams” around one food or drink station.

9. Get help. I know many of us feel like we are superwomen and can make it happen on our own (guilty as charged!), but in an effort to not look disheveled when your guests arrive and to ensure that you will even be ready when your guests arrive, get a crew of people to help you (even if it’s 2 or 3) to make things easier — whether your significant other or some girlfriends. If you’re having a large group I would also suggest getting a cleaning/serving service. There are many services that will have one or two people help to serve food, clean throughout the night, and clean up after it’s done. It’s so worth it!

Have any other tips to add? Let us know! Not planning a party but attending instead? Don’t forget to bring a gift for the hostess with the mostess!

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