Throwing an elegant holiday get-together – whether a sit-down dinner or a cocktail party – with your family and friends doesn't have to be stressful, especially if you plan early. Meal-planning, decorating and coordinating the guest list needn't fill you with anxiety and impending doom. While the holidays are indeed fast approaching, these simple entertaining tips and tricks will help you expertly host a holiday party that's all success and no stress.
Here are five ways to host a stress-free, memorable holiday party this season.
Make a list, check it twice
Upon deciding what kind of party you're going to host, and its scope, it's time to determine the date, time, and guest list. Put together a list of loved ones to invite and decide how you're going to get the word out. You can send out invitations via email, post on personalized card stock, or simply telephone your guests. In an effort to plan your party well in advance, you should send out your invites at least three to four weeks ahead of the party date if not sooner, as calendars fill up fast around the holiday season.
With your RSVPs in order, you can more easily plan the scope of your party if you know how many people to expect. Also make it clear whether or not guests are allowed to bring plus ones or their fur babies.
Create a realistic holiday menu
Aside from last-minute RSVPs, cooking is often the number one stressor of planning and preparing for a holiday party. Eliminate this stress by refraining from over-complicating your menu. While an elaborate meal may look impressive, it will likely prevent you from enjoying your own party with your guests.
Create a relatively easy holiday menu that suits your skill set, and that you feel comfortable cooking and serving. All-in-one meals work great for this, as they're typically simple to make and limit the number of dishes, pots and pans used, making for a smoother clean-up. Consider roasting meats and vegetables at the same time, or adding a stew or chili to your menu. If you have a small dining space, a buffet-style dinner is the way to go to prevent overcrowding. Easily create a tasteful buffet by keeping your food in pots on the stove and using counters and tables as serving areas. Depending on the theme and scope of your get-together, you can opt for finger foods, which work especially well for smaller groups.
Regardless of your menu, much like your invites, the most important thing to remember is to prepare your food well in advance.
A holiday party wouldn't be complete without beverages, of both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variety. As such, consider setting up a separate station in another room, such as in your living room or sitting room, for drinks. Stock your bar cart with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, ice, cocktail napkins and the appropriate glassware, and ensure you stock up on soda and mixers, as well as coffee (regular and decaf), hot cocoa, cider and a basket of teas.
If you are expecting more than 20 guests, it's a good idea to hire a server for a few hours, as this will go a long way in saving you time and giving you the freedom to mingle with your guests. If you're hosting a small group of friends, a self serve bar should do the job and friends and family can help themselves to cocktails and other beverages.
In addition to remembering your beverages, also ensure to label each guest's glass. While it'd be great to provide each guest with a new glass for each new course, your kitchen will quickly pile up with dirty glasses, making the post-party clean-up a nightmare. Use wine charms or personalize your guests' glasses by writing their names on drink stirrers to allow everyone to keep track of their glasses, encouraging re-use.
Clean & decorate
In addition to showing off your cooking and cocktail mixing skills, you'll want to ensure your home decor is also top-notch. Ensure you spend some time cleaning your home the day before your party, make a note to hang up stray coats and put away shoes and any other items that may be in the way. This is especially important if you have a small space, as any clutter will quickly fill your space and become more apparent. Find spots for your stray items, ensure your floors are free from dust, that your bathrooms are immaculate and any pet hair has been vacuumed.
For the day, or night, of your party, consider purchasing or renting a coat rack to hang your guests' jackets when they arrive, as this is more thoughtful than simply dumping their belongings on a bed, and makes them easier to retrieve at the end of the night.
Decorating is key to setting the tone for your party. If you have a small space, remember that less is more: stick to the essentials, but keep decorations small.
Make use of out-of-reach areas by hanging mistletoe in doorways or from lights; consider wall decals, topiaries and ornaments on tiered trays. If you're working with a larger space, the "less is more" adage is key to keeping things look modern and elegant. Decorate with festive lights, candles, wall art and coverings.
These same decorating principles apply to your table settings and your home's exterior. For a tasteful approach to holiday decorating
, try a single, stand-out wreath, potted evergreens or a large bow on your door. Ensure to creatively arrange your furniture to accommodate your guests, and if your family or living room is larger than your dining room, don't be afraid to swap places. Feel free to combine folding chairs, benches and lounge seating at your dining table and create various comfortable and inviting spaces throughout your home for your guests to mingle and socialize.
Sounds of the season
Set the mood with a homemade CD or computer playlist of holiday songs. This is a relatively simple undertaking, but instantly personalizes your gathering by setting the mood to your favourite mix of seasonal tunes. Remember to keep the music low, as conversation is what counts at any celebration. Also try to avoid musical selections with lyrics during the dinner hour, which can cause competition between the lyrics and the scintillating dinner conversation.
With the holidays fast approaching, now is the perfect time to start planning your festive soirées. When the planning process starts early, you'll avoid both stress and aggravation, as well as the last-minute rush to pull something together. Easily transform your home into a place for an elegant gathering of your closest friends and loved ones with Furniture.ca's wide selection of home furnishings and decor
, perfect for transforming your holiday decorating ideas into reality.