How Can I Throw a Stress-Free Holiday Party?

You Ask, We Answer: How Can I Throw a Stress-Free Holiday Party?

You’ve received the RSVPs to your holiday party–great! Entertaining is one of the best parts of the holiday season, but it can also be one of the most stressful. Between readying your home to prepping food, before you know it, the fun of having people can get lost in the shuffle. This year, take the pressure out of hosting your gathering with some of our favorite tips for throwing a stress-free holiday party.

Keep food festive, but fuss-free

Having a holiday party may seem like the ideal time to show off your culinary skills, but the idea here is to keep the food delicious but fuss-free. You don’t need to create a sit down meal; in fact, the more people can move about and socialize while eating, the better! Look for small plate options that pack big taste and come together relatively easily. Think cranberry brie bites with store-bought crescent roll dough, stuffed mushrooms that can be stuffed ahead of time and popped in the oven before guests arrive, or mini chicken fajitas. Create a charcuterie board and a veggie platter with a variety of make-ahead dips, and don’t forget to pepper your party with store-bought goodies that will save your sanity. Trader Joe’s is beloved for its variety of appetizers and snacks–everything from savory to sweet–and picking up a few store bought items can help to round out your food offerings without creating added stress. Win/win!

Serving mixed drinks? Make a big batch

Nothing says “festive” like a well-crafted cocktail, but when you have a house full of guests, creating cocktails one at a time is a recipe for stress overload. Save yourself some time (and sanity) by making a delicious large batch of cocktails to which guests can help themselves, like this bourbon Campari punch. Not only is the drink itself a festive feast for the tastebuds, but the pomegranate seed ice ring looks like a gorgeous ruby red wreath floating in the bowl—a feast for the eyes, as well!

Dim the lights and ready the music

Set the mood with low lighting and playlists that create the vibe you’re seeking. We love a good vinyl record, but it may be too much to mingle and play DJ. Instead, consider creating playlist that will set the mood without adding stress. A mix of holiday classics, jazz, and contemporary hits makes a nice soundtrack, but whatever music you love is really what matters here.

Candles are a lovely touch to create ambience because their flickering lights feel instantly festive, but opting for flameless, battery-operated candles can prevent accidents like spilled wax or even fires without sacrificing that warm glow. One added benefit of lower lighting? It makes everything in your home look inviting and cozy (and can hide the pet hair you forgot to vacuum in the corner of the living room!).

Adjust the air temperature

If you’ve turned on the oven and now have multiple people in your home, take time to crack a window or two to keep guests from overheating. It may be a cold Connecticut night, but having a bit of fresh air flowing can go a long way in keeping everyone comfortable as they celebrate. You can also crack a few windows before guests arrive to ensure the excess heat escapes, then open them again later in the evening.

Save yourself time on the clean-up

Filling the sink with hot soapy water takes the stress out of cleaning dirty dishes. Simply drop used utensils, glasses, and dishes into the sink to let them soak while you’re still socializing, and encourage guests to do the same. When everyone heads out for the night, you can then load the dishwasher or wash them by hand without having to scrub them down—and that means you can head to bed that much earlier.

Wishing you a happy and stress-free holiday season!

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