There are lots of easy time- and effort-saving ideas that will take the stress out of entertaining, whether you’re hosting a formal dinner or a casual holiday drop-in.
Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Think simple with food and don’t be afraid to bring in reinforcements. I have a few go-to places that have excellent catering menus for when I’m in a pinch. I gave up on the idea that I had to be a super host and do everything myself years ago. Instead, I let others help in the workload and I end up enjoying the party that much more!
2. Get guests involved in food prep. Make-your-own pizzas or quesadillas, a baked potato “bar,” or even ice cream sundaes are just a few options that will get guests moving and interacting with one another.
3. Look around you for décor: Fall foliage from your yard and a few beautiful candles make a great centerpiece. Put pinecones and citrus fruits in large glass bowls or vases and surround them with evergreen boughs.
4. Have party essentials cleaned, organized, and ready-to-use. (Ironed linens, polished silver, clean china, new candles, etc.)
5. Arrange for a cleaning service to come to your home twice a month during November and December, and/or the day before your party. It will take the stress off of you and ensure your home is ship-shape for guests.
6. Keep attractive storage baskets, boxes, and benches in every room for last-minute house pickups.
7. If you have indoor pets, consider boarding them the day/night of your party, or at least confine them to a comfortable space they’ll feel safe in.
8. Be sure your guest room is clean and neat in case of unexpected overnight guests.
9. Have a few party-appropriate outfits selected and set aside to choose from so you won’t be in a last-minute “what do I wear” panic.
10. Relax. Your guests will take their cues from you – if you’re tense, they’ll be tense. Ensure that your guests have all been introduced and are comfortable.
Give yourself permission to enjoy your own party! Keeping essential supplies on hand and maintaining a positive attitude will go a long way toward a successful party that’s fun for everyone.