Heed these time-tested strategies to ensure you enjoy time with guests.
Holiday revelers tend to be busy with social engagements-from corporate parties to cocktails with close friends-between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Chances are, many people will be attending a party and/or hosting their own this holiday season.
While attending a party requires little of celebrants other than a willingness to have a good time, hosting a holiday get-together can be hard work. But hosts can heed a few time-tested strategies to ensure they and their guests make the most of their time together this holiday season.
Television, movies and advertisements paint an unrealistic picture of what the holidays should be. Don't get down if a holiday party that would make Norman Rockwell proud is beyond your capabilities. Rather than trying to plan a picture-perfect holiday party, channel your energy into what you do best. Cook up a holiday feast if you love being in the kitchen, or decorate till you drop if you love to deck the halls. The point of the party is to gather with family and friends, so no need to worry about throwing a perfect party.
Ask others to contribute to the party so all of the work is not on your shoulders. A potluck party is a great way to encourage participation. When everyone brings something along and helps, it frees up time to spend together rather than worrying about what needs cooking in the kitchen or whether a last-minute trip to the store is in order.
Festive feelings may inspire you to expand your guest list. Social people understandably want to invite all of their circles of friends, but an overwhelming guest list can make hosting more difficult. If you have trouble paring down the guest list, consider hosting separate parties, designating one for family and another for friends.
You can even downsize your offerings to lessen some your load. Rather than spending days in the kitchen making unique apps, stock up on chips, snacks and premade appetizers so you have enough food. If you want to make one or two appetizers from scratch, stick to a handful of tried-and-true recipes and convenience items so you're not worrying about kitchen-testing new things.
If you're simply too busy to handle hosting but still want to invite loved ones, hire some professional help. Hire wait staff to tend to guests during the party, and book a cleaning service to clean your home in the days before the party. Don't hesitate to have the party catered if you prefer your gathering not be potluck. Young children in the family? Consider hiring a babysitter, so that you can do your shopping, kitchen prep work and decorating without interruption. A vibrant poinsettiaor sprigs of holly and berries can help set the holiday mood.
Holiday hosting can be a big time commitment, but there are ways to make hosting easier regardless of how busy you are.