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Planning for holiday entertaining isn’t hard, in fact it’s really simple to do with proper planning. I’m sharing Here are some of my tried and true tips and shortcuts for epic holiday entertaining – my Top 5 Tips)!
There is so much going on during the holidays, and people are generally in one of two camps. The first camp is the one where (like me), you’ve been planning your Christmas gathering since last Christmas, and the second camp (my friend Dawn), who pulls together an absolutely beautiful Christmas Eve dinner the week before. Each one has it’s pluses and minuses, but both are equally doable, and as successful.
Your most helpful tool in pulling it off? Organization. That’s generally all it takes. If you can get yourself organized enough to know what you have to do and when you have to do it, you’ll pull off a successful party without many hiccups.
Tip #1: Keep decor simple
For decor, use fresh greens or faux. This way you aren’t wedded to a color scheme. Using nicely made faux greens means you have the expense only one year, which is a plus. Change them up year after year with your focus color.
Use the greens in different areas to bring everything together. Use them as the base for your centerpiece, as accents around your dessert and drink tables, and to adorn the front door. Add simple, battery powered white lights to enhance their beauty and the mood. Basically, go with an easy theme and be consistent with it.
Tip #2: Keep your bar simple
I say this over and over again, and still find it to be some of the best advice I give on the subject. Keep your bar simple. Offering a good red, a nice white, and a signature cocktail not only keeps your costs down (depending upon your wine choices, of course), but also makes it easy for guests to serve themselves, which frees you up to enjoy all of your guests.
Uncork a couple bottles of each in advance, fill a pretty drink dispenser with ice cold water and holiday garnishes such as a cranberry and mint ice block. Set out glasses and cocktail napkins, along with your pre-made signature cocktail, and guests can help themselves. Make sure you leave the corkscrew out so guests don’t need to ask you where to find it!
By keeping the bar area self-serve you free up your time to mingle with guests and enjoy your own party. There is enough going on with the holidays that you don’t have time to cater to every person’s personal beverage likes – so don’t worry about that. If they can’t find something they enjoy, they can always grab a water or some hot cocoa!
Tip #3: Keep your menu simple
It’s really easy to get in over your head when planning a holiday menu. I encourage you to keep it simple. It’s more about the mood you set than the food you serve that is a clear indication of holiday entertaining success. Choose to serve your meal family or buffet style, and steer away from fancy, plated dinners. Set up easy appetizers ahead of time around the entertaining space. Make a dinner that’s familiar to you and you’ve had success with before, or try something that serves itself like pot roast and potatoes.
Include your guests in helping with shortcuts for epic holiday entertaining!
Tip #4: Get help with desserts
There are many times hostesses prefer that people not bring dishes to share at their party. I get that and write more about how to handle that situation in a past post. The holiday season can be a bit different. People are often looking to share family traditions during the holidays, and asking them to bring their favorite holiday dessert from growing up is the perfect way to get guests involved as well as get help with the event. Simply set up an area in advance that guests can place desserts (make sure to put some tiered stands or elevated pie plates out to make the the table interesting).
Did you read how much of this was prep-ahead & self-serve stations? Prep & self-serve are key shortcuts for epic holiday entertaining!
Tip #5: Plan for the kiddos
If you know ahead of time that kids will be joining the soiree, then make sure to carefully plan for that fact.
- Set up a table decorated with kids DIY holiday color sheets and games.
- Make sure to have a beverage station set up for kids that is separate from the parents. It’s important so that one, you don’t need to help 10 kids unwrap juice box straws, or pour, and two, the kids know where their beverages are. Only the smallest ones will need help, and often the older ones will help the younger ones. Leave a roll of paper towels out for them along with napkins. They’ll need it.
- Put kid friendly holiday movies on the tv in the background. That way if you have a kid that’s bored they instantly have something “to do”.
- Remember to have kid friendly menu items available. This is as simple as some homemade nuggets and sliced fruit with baby carrots. I’m not one for making several dishes, but just putting those nuggets on a holiday plate will take the stress off of the parents when trying to get something in those bellies so they can enjoy the party.
Above all else, have fun. There’s nothing that will make a party more successful more quickly than the mood of the hostess! No matter what, preparation is your friend. Cue up your holiday playlist, and let the party take care of itself, and it will! I hope you’ve found these shortcuts for epic holiday entertaining (my top 5 tips) helpful, and that your party planning will soon be in full swing!
More help with holiday entertaining: