Holiday hosting hacks

Helpful tips and tricks for hosting a successful, stress-free party.

By Julia White

Hosting holiday parties for your friends and family can be an absolute delight, but if not executed properly can also be an absolute nightmare. What if there were ways to alleviate not only the stress but the total time it takes to pull it off? These tips are meant to allow the hosts to actually enjoy their parties instead of rushing around and trying to singlehandedly take care of everything. Implement these easy hacks and actually feel confident for the party to come.  

Plan, plan, plan

To-do lists: It is so easy to overlook or forget some of the most integral aspects of your party, and if you remember too late or get sidetracked with the little things, you can quickly become overwhelmed. Instead, make a to-do list of the non-negotiable, big-picture things that need to happen and a second list of things that “would be nice” to do if there is time but are not detrimental to the party if they do not happen. Plus, lists will help you stay organized and on track.

Think ahead: Whether you mail invitations or do them digitally, be sure to send out RSVPs that are requested back at least a couple of days in advance so you can plan around who is coming instead of guessing and creating more work for yourself. Another tip is to accomplish things throughout the week so that tasks do not pile up, such as already having the guest bedroom clean and set with fresh bedding and towels.

Squeaky clean

Clean with purpose:  It can be tempting to clean every crack and crevice of each room in the house, but the most important areas — the entertaining areas — should take precedence. Clean and tidy the guest bathroom they will be using most, the main living room and the eating area, and shut the doors to the rest of the house if needed. 

Cleaning tools: Use lint rollers for hard-to-clean items such as pillows, the couch or dining room chairs, since the rollers can effortlessly pick up hair, lint and dust and are easy to dispose of afterward. Another great tool is to invest in washable placemats and cloth napkins so after the party you can simply toss them in the wash. Lastly, line the trash with multiple bags so once one is full, the next is already in and ready to go.

Food for thought

Dinnerware: One of the worst parts of hosting a dinner is cleaning up the dishes afterwards. Minimize the number of dishes you use by choosing recipes like casseroles and pot roasts that not only require one dish but can go from the oven straight to the table. 

Prepare: Check to see which menu items you can prepare the night before. Think reheatable soups, desserts and small refrigerated appetizers. Also make sure that you have each ingredient written down and checked off before the day of cooking so you don’t have to run errands amongst everything else.

Menu: Try to select finger-food appetizers and hors d’oeuvres that are simple and can be easily grabbed. It will result in fewer dishes, and the guests will enjoy having a quick and easy snack before dinner. Don’t be afraid to use some pre-made frozen food items to save time and effort. 

Space savers: Stock up on disposable takeout containers for the end of the night so guests can easily take leftovers with them. It leaves you with less cleanup and eliminates the chances for you to be stuck with way too much food.

Are you not entertained?

Decorations: This is a great time to go with function over fashion. Move your living room around to accommodate for more space and try to keep your table free of too much clutter. It also may make sense to lay out the food buffet style in your kitchen so the table has more room. Keep decorations simple and try to finish them before the day of the party. Scented candles are a great option to set the mood for the party and have your home smelling fantastic. 

Fun activities: Be sure to plan for small things to do while the guests arrive to keep them busy and entertained if you are needed elsewhere. Have charades ready to go, low background music or allow guests to help with finishing touches if they offer.

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