As satisfying as it is to gather all of your friends and throw a holiday party at your home, planning one can require extensive time and effort, especially during this frantic holiday season. We know you have a lot on your mind and your to-do list, so we compiled a list of essential tips to help you prepare for your holiday party. The number one trick to minimize stress during holiday entertaining is preparing before the day of the party. In addition, we have created a list of tips to help you through the rest of the planning process. Not only will these tips minimize your level of stress, it will make the set up and tear down easier and allow you to enjoy the party, because after all, it is your party and you should enjoy it!
1. Prep Before the Prep. Before the holidays arrive, spend some time checking off those necessary chores you have been neglecting, such as polishing the silver or de-cluttering the house. This way, it will be one less task you have to worry about when the holiday season arrives.
2. Stick to What You Know. If you are getting a caterer for the party, this rule can still apply to recipes and decorating. For those of you making your own food, stick to what you know. This party is not the time to experiment so make something you know you are good at. If you do want try something new, experiment before the party so you know exactly how to make it.
3. Buy in Bulk. If you are a regular party thrower, stock up on basic ingredients at the beginning of the holidays. If this is your only party, buy in bulk only for what you think will go quickly or what you will want to have around for the holiday season, such as alcohol and other beverages.
4. Prep Your Fridge.
Before hitting the grocery store and bringing home bags and bags of groceries and realizing there is no room for all the food, clean out your refrigerator and freezer. Toss any old condiments, old leftovers or anything you don’t think you are going to eat. Once you do that, place your new groceries both safely and smartly: Do not place raw meats next to fruits and vegetables. As your fridge gets filled, keep an eye on the thermometer and watch the temperature because the fuller the fridge gets, the harder it is for air circulation to flow.
5. Prepare Serving Dishes.
Find and pull out all of your holiday plates, platters, serving dishes and utensils. This will definitely help you the day of the party so you are not scrounging through every shelf to find them. Then, plan out which dishes you are going to use and for what (place a sticky note on them to help you remember). Finally, lay serving dishes out the day before so you know how and where you want to place each dish.
6. Be Realistic About Food and Drink.
Remember to not overbuy! Here are some serving size suggestions to stick to: for a three-hour cocktail party, about three drinks per person, or about one bottle of wine for every two to three guests and one quart of liquor for every 10-12 guests. For hors d’oeuvres plan to three to five pieces per person, and for a three-hour cocktail party, about four to five pieces per person per hour.
7. Stock the Bar.
Because alcohol can be expensive, stock up on the basics: wine, sparkling wine, beer, and a couple of types of mixers. Premix enough of a house cocktail so you do not have to make more halfway through the party. Remember to provide non-alcoholic beverages and water as well. And don’t forget ice!
8. Add a Unique Touch.
You do not have to go out and buy home décor but try to add a few unique touches of your taste. Whether that is through cooking, décor or drinks, make your party memorable.
9. Vibe Out.
After all the food and drinks are prepared, go through the house and choose proper lighting, music, temperature and seating that will work well with eating and socializing. You do not want the music to be too loud or the lights too dark that you can barely see whom you are talking to.
10. Clean as You Go.
You should enjoy your party, not obsess over cleaning up after every plate left or napkin dropped. Instead, grab crumbled napkins or empty glasses on your way to the kitchen. Also, add a small garbage can or two and place them strategically so it is not too noticeable but will make it easy for your guests to toss their empty plates and cups away. This will make your post party clean up a lot easier.
11. Do a Walk Through. After you have finished getting ready and are completing the last finishing touches, do a quick walk through with any other hosts to make sure everything is set and accessible.
• If you do not have a big enough coat closet, choose an empty bedroom to put coats in.
• Double-check the music, temperature and lighting.
• Light candles.
• Uncork wine bottles and have an accessible bottle opener nearby.
12. Let it go! When the first doorbell rings, let all the stress go! It is your party and all the preparation is behind you. All that is left is the clean up and you can worry about that in the morning. Now enjoy it!