Entertaining this time of the year is so much fun. I love to celebrate with our friends and family during the holidays. Everyone is always in such a good mood, and it gives me a chance to try out new recipes and decorating ideas. Setting up a pretty festive table does not have to be stressful. Just follow these 15 easy holiday party ideas to make entertaining a joy.
Over the years, I have come to realize that being the perfect hostess is not all that it is cracked up to be. In order to try an attain this title, it usually means that you work throughout the party instead of enjoying the time with your friends. And really, socializing is what entertaining should be about, right?
After hosting many parties, I’ve learned a few tricks that make the whole process so much less stressful and I’d like to share my tips with you.
How many of these Easy Holiday Party Ideas can you put into use for your next party?
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Keep appetizers simple. I find that some of the easiest appetizers to serve are home made crostinis. I just use sliced baguettes brushed with olive oil and cooked in the oven for a few minutes until golden. The home made crostinis keep for several days and can be made easily on party day by adding your favorite toppings. See four easy crostini recipes here.
Buffets make dinner parties easier. While it is nice to sit down to an elegant meal, that also means a lot more work. One of the easiest of my holiday party table ideas to keep your party simple is to do it buffet style. You can have a combination of both hot and cold foods and this keeps the party preparation down and makes timing much much easier. You can add to the buffet table during the evening instead of having to serve everything all at one time, as well. A very easy way to feed guests is with plates of cold cuts and cheeses with crusty bread.
Prepare as much as you can before the party day. I find it so much easier to make party food ahead of time than to try and prepare everything all on one day. Recipes that can be made before the holiday event will save you time and energy on the day of the party and allow you to mingle with your guests and enjoy the gathering more.
Don’t be afraid to purchase instead of spending hours preparing the food. This is one of my most practical holiday party table ideas for time saving. Mixing store bought and home made items makes party day so much easier. Think realistically about how much you can actually prepare yourself and add to this with items that you purchase. I was lucky enough to be able to offer my party guests some delicious desserts courtesy of Shari’s Berries. The company has an extensive range of fabulous cheesecakes, chocolate covered berries and my personal favorite – chocolate covered cherries. They are the perfect addition to a festive buffet party table and also make a wonderful seasonal gift for someone special. It would take me HOURS to make platters of these delicious desserts.
Luckily, Shari’s Berries makes it super easy. They deliver quickly and the desserts are carefully packaged to make sure that they arrive at your home in perfect condition. Their products also make wonderful Christmas gifts for your friends!
Make the bar self serve. I don’t know about you, but I like to spend time with my guests, not standing behind a bar making drinks for everyone. Set your bar up to be self serve. Just put out cocktail, wine and champagne glasses and some prepared garnishes along with the alcohol. You could even have some cards made with recipes for favorite cocktails to give the guests inspiration on the drink making.
Wine and cheese parties are easy. The holiday season is a busy time of the year. Instead of a full blown party, try having a wine and cheese pairing party. This type of party is very easy to do and doesn’t have to be too expensive.
See my tips for hosting a wine and cheese party here.
Start with an empty dishwasher. Nothing is worse than counters full of dirty dishes as the evening progresses. If you start with an empty dishwasher, you can add a few dishes to it during the night. This makes clean up a breeze later and keeps the kitchen clutter free.
Create an easy party table centerpiece. I have a long dining room table. My husband made me a rectangular box that makes the perfect centerpiece. It goes from Thanksgiving to Christmas just by switching out the greenery and looks great on a buffet table.
Set the holiday mood with candles. Candleskeep the lighting low and set a nice ambiance for the party. I like to have them in several rooms so that the mood will be set throughout the house, and not just in one room.
Make a To-Do list. I am a list maker when I entertain. I have a big list for things that need to be done before the party and work through it. Then, on party night, I have a smaller list nearby with some reminders so that I don’t forget things that need to be done on party night and having a list helps me keep track of which of my holiday party ideas still need tweaking. Using these lists also means that my preparations get done well before party time, and gives me some time to relax before guests arrive.
For more elaborate dishes, prep ahead of time. There may be some dishes that will need to be made during the party itself. But serving elaborate dishes does not mean that EVERYTHING needs to be done then. Use time before the party to cut recipe ingredients, prepare garnishes for drinks, and slice foods. This gives you more time on party night to mingle and makes the evening much more stress-free.
Set the mood with pretty holiday food platters. I love to serve my party food on festive holiday platters that I have collected over the years. They add a whimsical look to the table and are much more fun if you wander around the party with food on festive dishes. Just the sight of Frosty the Snowman brings on the holiday spirit. And a cheese board with a Santa cheese knife is sure to bring out a Happy Holiday wish to all!
Make use of festive greenery. Setting a party table does not have to be a really expensive affair. There are lots of greenery ideas, especially this time of the year, that you can put to great use. Use sprigs of rosemary tied with jute to folded napkins, or arrange pine boughs around the base of candles. All of this is basically free and still sets a festive mood. Even simple fir boughs add seasonal mood to a party platter.
Match table linens to dishes and party decor. Choose a color scheme and match your linens to it. For me, this is the color red. I have a big supply of red napkins that I keep on hand for the holidays. They go well with festive holiday cocktails, and also coordinate well with other table decor that I use this time of the year.
Serve food on several levels. This is one of my favorite holiday party ideas. A table on one level can look very crowded. If you have some raised serving dishes as well as those sitting on the table, it will give the allusion of more space and also will give your guests a better over view of the food choices.
Let guests contribute. Most of the time, my guests will offer to bring something to the party. It is rare for us to have friends over when they don’t ask what they can bring to drink. Let them! As far as them helping with food goes, think about what will save you the most time and give them suggestions. This will take the stress off you and I have found that people always love to help out.
The holidays are always the busiest time of the year for everyone. The last few months seem to be just full of many holiday parties. This can get stressful if you don’t think ahead. But following these few easy holiday party ideas will make your party a lot less stressful for you and fun for your guests. Keeping the whole thing manageable will ensure that you enjoy the night as well as your guests!
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