The holiday season is such a whirlwind of parties and family gatherings that sometimes it feels like we spend the whole month of December either planning, attending, or cleaning up after an event. In our years of hosting holiday parties, we’ve learned a few tricks to help keep the whirlwind from spinning out of control.
Plan ahead. Tried and true advice for any time you play host. Make a list of everything that needs to get done before the party. Then schedule which things can be done well ahead of time, which need to be done a day or two before, and which have to be done on the day of the party. You’ll be less likely to forget anything, and you’ll feel much less frazzled when the day arrives.
Make organized shopping lists. Grocery stores can be almost as overrun as shopping malls during the holiday season. To avoid getting overwhelmed and leaving without crucial ingredients, organize your shopping list by section of the store. Your trip will be more efficient and you’ll be less likely to skip over certain items if you’re not running back and forth all over the store.
Set up the day before. If you’re having a dinner party, set the table the night before. For a cocktail party, set out all glassware, dishes, and non-refrigerated food items. Have any and all decorations in place. This way you won’t be running around at the last minute trying to put the finishing touches on your setup. Instead, you can focus on getting yourself ready so that you feel calm and put together.
Don’t be afraid to delegate. Hosting a party is a team effort; you don’t have to do everything yourself. Put your spouse and kids to work cleaning, decorating, or cooking—whatever will be the biggest help. And don’t feel like you have to make every dish or hors d’oeuvres from scratch! Play to your strengths. If you make a mean pot roast, leave the canapés and desserts to the grocery store.
Last but not least, be a guest at your own party. Don’t forget that you’re hosting the party to have fun and enjoy the company of friends and loved ones. Be present, and once the party’s started, just let it be. The dishes can wait, and your guests would rather spend time with you than watching you hover around the room, trying to keep everything perfectly neat and tidy. Pretend that you’re at someone else’s party if it makes it easier for you to relax and enjoy yourself.
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