I came across this article on FineLiving.com (click here to see the original article). What I really loved about the tips in this article is that they are super practical and some of them can easily translate into other social events besides holiday parties. Here are the ten tips for holiday entertaining:
1. Throw an Open House Holiday Party: Think your place is too small to host a large party with all of your favorite people? Consider an open house format, allowing your guests to drop by over a period of time. This should prevent too many people from showing up at one time.
2. Sending Invitations: Send out invitations to invite your guests. If your event is formal, send your invites four to six weeks before the event. If it's a more casual affair, two weeks' notice will suffice. Be sure to include the desired dress (formal, casual, cocktail, etc.) and a number or e-mail for your guests to RSVP.
3. Festive Finger Foods: Serve a wide variety of finger foods at your soiree. To minimize your time spent in the kitchen, pick foods that can be left out on the table for a period of time and don't require refrigeration. Check out the Food Network for delicious recipes!
4. Tree-Trimming Party: You supply the tree, and your guests provide the ornaments! You can "go green" with this concept and use a potted tree that you won't throw away after the season ends. The best part about this idea is that others decorate your tree for you- no stress!
5. Serving Beverages: To keep things simple (and classy!), consider having a signature cocktail for the evening and/or premixing your cocktails to leave more time to mingle with your guests. You may also consider asking a friend or family member to play bartender for the evening. You can have different people take shifts, and this can be fun for the guests.
6. Hostess Gift: Hostess gifts are not mandatory but they are a way to thank your host(ess) for their hospitality. You need not spend a lot of money on hostess gifts (especially if you have a full social calendar), so try thinking of the host's interests and bring along something they will enjoy, like a bottle of wine, wine charms, or a festive holiday plant.
7. Seasonal Spills: Be prepared for red wine spills on the carpet or water rings on your wood furniture. Be proactive by having carpet cleaner and coasters ready to use.
8. Go Potluck: Entertain without stress by inviting guests to bring their favorite holiday dish. This could make for a great meal by tasting different holiday favorites!
9. Holiday Scents: Welcome guests with the aroma of simmering mulling spices. You can steep spices in lowing boiling water so the scent fills the air or use the spices for mulling wine or cider to serve as a warm holiday beverage!
10. Decorate Naturally: Forgo store-bought decor; decorate simply with real boughs of holly, ivy, and mistletoe!