Want to host for the holidays but think it's too much work? Read on for my secrets to stress-free holiday entertaining. A little advanced party prep means you will get to actually enjoy the party.
Be ready for unexpected drop-ins, impromptu happy hours and full-on holiday gatherings with these easy tips.
This post was sponsored by Cottonelle via Collectively to share how we keep all our holiday party prep organized.
The holiday entertaining season is almost upon us. Whether you're throwing a party, keeping things small or just want to make everything feel extra special for your family, it's easy as long as you're prepared.
Hosting People Doesn't Have to Hard
I love to plan parties but when it comes to actually hosting people in my home, I get all stressed out.
Having people over to your home can really put on the pressure. But there are things you can do to make it less stressful.
Holidays are typically a time for gathering together and we can ensure we are prepared by doing a little party prep ahead of time.
Holiday entertaining should be about the people you are spending time with and not about how much work it took. Look for ways to add festive details without effort.
And with a little pre-planning, you can be stocked up and ready with basics and special touches, to make your guests feel welcome and festive.
You are the only one who knows of the extravagant party plans that you had in your head. So if you have to ditch an idea, no one even knows!
Save your sanity by keeping things simple, planning ahead and focusing on time-spent with friends instead of how elaborate the food table is.
Maybe you'll actually even enjoy yourself at the party too.
Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining Tips
1. Offer a Welcome Cocktail
Offering a beverage, when your guests arrive, sends the message that you are glad they are there and want them to enjoy themselves. It shows them you are ready to let the good times roll and no matter how frazzled you feel, they won't see it.
Have something ready to go so you aren't caught off guard while putting the finishing touches on everything. Pre-pour some glasses of wine and leave them near the door.
You can also set out a wine bucket and glassware and direct the guests there, to serve themselves, if you are tied up.
2. Plan Your Party Drinks
To keep the party drinks easy on yourself, keep the setup simple.
Beer and wine are easy to keep on hand. You can buy a bunch at Costco or the grocery store (when you buy 6 bottles, you get a discount!) and keep them on hand for the season.
Having extra bottles of wine around is also perfect in case you are invited somewhere and want to bring something to gift the host.
If you think your guests might want a little something more than beer or wine, consider serving a signature cocktail. This is a go-to great stress-free holiday entertaining tip for me!
This way, you only have to have a handful of other ingredients on hand. You won't have to worry about the proper mixers and glassware you would need for a full bar.
Or check out good rosé to serve.
3. Pre Select Your Entertaining Pieces
I'm not the type to throw a complicated dinner party. I prefer to keep things easy with simple appetizers or chips and dips. Trying to coordinate a meal, with all the dishes finishing at the same time, makes me sweaty.
I have small appetizer plates and go-to serving pieces that I use for most of my parties so I keep them somewhere they are easy to get to. I have an area in my garage, to keep things at the ready, so each time we have people over I don't have to go searching for anything.
Don't hesitate to mix and match your plates. It adds character when things coordinate but doesn't match exactly. You can find small white plates at inexpensive stores.
When I come across some that are nice looking, I usually try to pick up 4 at a time. That way, over time, you end a bunch of small plates that you can use for all your entertaining throughout the year.
4. Ditch the glassware rules
You can and should mix and match your glasses! Even though your signature cocktail might traditionally be served in a specific style glass, you are not breaking rules by serving it in something you already have.
Like I do with my party plates, I like to pick up unique glasses when I see them. One of the best places to find inexpensive but decorative glasses is your local thrift store. Ikea also has tons of great options.
If you have open shelves in your home, you can arrange your glasses, in a styled way, so they are easy to access. Or you can keep them ready in the garage with your plates.
Stress-free holiday entertaining means to make what you already have work for you. Don't get hung up on using the "right" type of glass for what you are serving.
Whiskey in teacups is fun and unexpected. A stemless wine glass for punch is fine. Use what you have and make it look intentional.
5. Creature Comforts
Make sure your guests are taken care of where it counts. You don't want to have to keep checking the bathroom to see if the Cottonelle is full (if I'm honest, I always forget to check!).
So grab a decorative basket and keep some extras easily accessible for your guests. I don't like to keep the extra rolls under the sink because I know I feel weird about looking in people's things to find the backup.
To make it look a little more festive, I tucked a few fresh leaves in the basket. Depending on your basket, there might even be room for you to put a small vase with fresh flowers.
The basket and leaves make your extra rolls look nice, not like you just stuck some on the back of the toilet.
If you are planning on having your party outside to get everyone plenty of fresh air, have blankets ready to pass out if things cool down. Think about the flow of the night and try to plan ahead for what people may need.
You want to make sure that you are providing a comfortable atmosphere. Think about what you did and didn't like from recent parties you've been to and take note of what stands out.
6. Stock Up on Snacks
Holiday drop-ins are SO much fun but can leave you scrambling. If you keep some yummy store-bought treats in the cupboard, you'll have something to easily serve anyone who turns up.
Or, if you are heading to someone's house unexpectedly, you can take the snacks with you as part of your hostess gift. Grab a decorative basket, add a pretty napkin or towel and you've got a fast and helpful gift to give.
These types of crunchy bites are pretty inexpensive and have a long shelf life. They go really well with drinks and can round out your party food without being any extra work.
Grab shelf-stable snacks things like:
- Banana Chips
- Mixed Nuts
- Pumpkin Seeds
People LOVE specialty seasonal flavors. Look for things that are only around for a limited time and have those flavors that people love this time of year along with everyday favorites like almonds and breadsticks.
7. Fill the House with Holiday Scents
Make sure your home smells like the holidays. We don't usually buy our real Christmas tree until a week or so before the 25th to ensure that it doesn't dry out.
But I still like my house to smell delicious and inviting. You can make your house smell party-ready by using scented candles, creating a stove-top mix of holiday spices or a holiday essential oil room spray.
8. Set the Mood with Music
Music can quickly change the mood for any party. If you are hosting this fall, try out this cool Friendsgiving Playlist. It's over 2 hours worth of music to at least get the party started on the right foot.
For Christmas parties, you'll love my Tree Trimming Soundtrack which includes festive songs that aren't your run-of-the-mill classics.
But you can never go wrong with my extra long playlist with cool vibes, lots of indie and is the perfect music for any type of party. I call it Beach at Sunset, but it works just as well for brunch or dinner.
9. Ask For Help
One of my favorite stress-free holiday entertaining ideas is to look for things you can delegate to someone else. Don't just wing it. Plan ahead.
As a party host, you have things that are really important to you. But they won't matter as much to other people.
If you are worried about making sure the Chocolate Truffle Cake look perfect, you may want to keep that task for yourself.
But if having someone help refill glasses or check the bathroom for supplies would take some stress off you, ask someone to take on that job.
Make a list of jobs you can ask people to do (it can be a casual informal list on your phone) that you can quickly refer to if you are feeling like you are falling behind.
Let's be honest, these are really just two things you need to be holiday party-ready. A little bubbly gets people in a celebratory mood (even if it is not an expensive brand!) and a pack (or two) of Cottonelle Mega Rolls will get you through all your parties.
I keep a bunch of rolls in the house in our pantry area, and have a designated spot in the garage for the overflow.
A top tip for stress-free holiday entertaining is making sure you never run out of t.p! These Mega Rolls mean that you have to change the roll less often which is perfect for the holiday party season!
With just a few quick trips to the store and a little holiday party prep, you are ready to entertain your friends and family all season and you can enjoy yourself too!
Holiday entertaining doesn't have to be stressful. These stress-free holiday entertaining tips are all you need.
Do you love to throw holiday parties? Share your best party prep tip in the comments!
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- How to host a Virtual Wine Tasting with a wine advent calendar.
- Easy Brunch Party Ideas
- This Margs and Cards party idea is a fun and entertaining way to spend a night at home with your friends.