Hosting holiday parties can be stressful for both experienced hosts and rookies. We’re giving you all the tips and tricks to enjoy hosting this year, instead of dreading the stress surrounding it.
Hosting holiday parties can be stressful for both experienced hosts and rookies. However, don't let worries about running out of food or forgetting invitations overwhelm you. The key to a successful holiday gathering lies in careful planning. We’re giving you all the tips and tricks to enjoy hosting this year, instead of dreading the stress surrounding it.
Planning Makes Perfect
Avoid last-minute chaos by starting to plan ahead, preferably about a month in advance. Trust us: Waiting until the last minute will mean more stress and more work. Start with a comprehensive list of to-dos. Establish your guest list and headcount – this is necessary information to know in order to move on to planning your menu and seating arrangement. Once you know what will be on the menu, work backward to create a timeline that will steer your food preparation so you don’t get crunched by crunchtime or bothered by “hangry” guests.
Ask About Dietary Restrictions
From allergies to sensitivities to special diets by choice, there’s a good chance at least one of your guests will need some kind of accommodation when it comes to ingredients. Consider including a Dietary Restrictions section in your RSVP so you can plan accordingly – especially if you're in charge of meal preparation. If you’re up for a more casual gathering, embrace a potluck approach to encourage guests to bring a dish they enjoy. This way, everyone is sure to have at least one thing they’ll be happy to eat.
Send Invites Early
For holiday gatherings, sending invitations early is key. Aim to invite partygoers at least three weeks before the event. Everyone’s calendar fills quickly around popular holidays so even if you can just set a date in advance, feel free to give invitees a heads-up to block the time. Then, once you’ve had time to get plans in place, send out the more formal invitation. (Much like a typical “Save the Date” you receive ahead of wedding invites, though this can be as low-key as a text message.)
Theme It Up
Every occasion is more festive with a theme! Even if you opt for simplicity (no costumes required), a theme will make a difference. Whether you’re going for a classic winter wonderland ambiance or want something flashy and sparkly for a New Year's celebration, there’s plenty of inspiration out there for the taking. Start with Pinterest – a quick search will pull up more ideas than you can imagine. Once you've settled on a theme, think through what items you already have that will work and what pieces you may need to purchase or borrow to drive the theme home.
Accept (And Even Ask For) Help
There is plenty of support to be had both before and after hosting a party. As we mentioned before, invite guests to bring along their favorite dishes. Potluck-style events significantly minimize the time hosts spend in the kitchen and the stress of “getting it right” when it comes to the menu. When the party is over, the mess doesn’t magically disappear (sigh). But we’re willing to bet you’ll receive some offers of help from a few kindhearted loved ones. As hard as it is for some of us to accept such help, do it! Many hands make light work, as they say. Give yourself the gift of lighter work and embrace their willingness to pitch in.
Hosting holiday parties can be daunting, but with the right planning comes successful soirees you’ll be so thankful to have experienced. With careful preparation, you can transform the holiday hosting experience from a source of anxiety to a joyous celebration all of your loved ones will remember. You’ve got this! Cheers to a stress-free and festive holiday season.