The holiday season beckons, and although you love being a guest at parties, this is your year to host one yourself. Don't be afraid to take the challenge. Hosting a party during the holidays doesn't have to be stressful. Read on for 10 tips to help you throw the perfect party, without the stress.
1. Timing is Everything
Savvy hosts never plan an event during a particularly hectic time in their lives. Check your calendar and find a date that is relatively free with a day or two on either side as a buffer. That way you can actually enjoy the preparations that go into entertaining, instead of frantically scurrying from one chore to the next.
2. Simplicity is Important
Next to timing, simplicity is everything. The biggest mistake we can make is to bite off more than we can chew... definitely a stress-inducer! Simplify your hosting efforts to reflect the tempo of your lifestyle. Maybe a Saturday evening dinner party is too ambitious for you, but a dessert and coffee evening is more manageable.
3. Guest Dynamics
The all important guest list! Take time to think about the group dynamic you will be creating, and make sure that guests are likely to be compatible. Nothing is more stressful than having Aunt Mary in a huff because her ex and his new wife are among the guests. You get the picture... invite people you enjoy spending time with and who will enjoy each other's company.
4. Try Something Different
Something 'different' can be easy and stress free. Instead of hosting a get together in your home, think about taking the event off site. You don't have to rent the grand ballroom of the swankiest hotel in town. Instead, why not take in a seasonal movie and then chat about the film at a local coffee house afterwards, or go skating and take the party home for hot chocolate (or something stronger) and cookies? With a little imagination the possibilities are endless.
5. A Pot Luck with a Twist
If the thought of cooking up a storm is more than you can bear, consider hosting a pot luck with a twist. What about an international theme? Assign each guest (or couple) a country and have him or her bring a dish that reflects a holiday tradition of that country. You just have to supply the drinks and the atmosphere. What could be easier than that?
6. Get Help
The most stressful element of hosting a party is having too much to do and too little time. Enlist the help of other family members. Even kids can get into the act by tidying up and doing simple housekeeping chores. If you don't have your own built-in crew, think about hiring a student for the party. Students are usually affordable and even having someone around just to clear the table is enough to ease the stress load.
7. Be Kind to your Pocket Book
Holding a party shouldn't cause undue hardship to your bank account. After all, it's supposed to be about the company rather than the expense involved, isn't it? If your finances are limited, you can still host a great party and stay within your budget. For example, instead of pricey filet mignon as a main course, consider comfort food. A robust old-fashioned beef stew, for example, is especially welcome at holiday time. Guests are sure to appreciate your efforts. Think about the different ways you can show your friends and family that you care without breaking the bank.
8. Do Some Good
Even though the spirit of generosity should be with us year round, it seems to be more prevalent during the holiday season. Consider asking guests to bring an unwrapped toy or non-perishable food item to donate to a local charity and help relieve the stress of those less fortunate.
9. Have a Back-up Plan
If something can go wrong, it will. The sooner you learn this lesson, the better host you'll be. It never hurts to have some extra food on hand in case one of your dishes doesn't turn out as you'd planned. Always think ahead and plan for disaster so you'll remain cool and calm in any situation.
10. Make Some Time for Yourself
Be sure to schedule some time for yourself before the party. Even an hour alone will help you unwind. Do what relaxes you most, whether it's a long soothing bath complete with soft music and candlelight or a brisk run in the fresh air. Do whatever it takes to de-stress. A relaxed host sets the stage for relaxed and happy guests and a party to remember.