There’s nothing more joyous than celebrating the holidays with friends and family. But hosting the holiday party can be a little stressful.
Assuming the role of hostess comes with a hefty to-do list that can leave you feeling overwhelmed and anything but joyful by the time guests arrive.
If you feel panic-stricken at the thought of hosting holiday gatherings then it’s time to confront your fears and turn over a new “hostess with the mostest” leaf.
Here are six sure-fire ways that you can use to cut through the holiday party overwhelm.
Tip 1: Holiday Decorating
You don’t need an interior design degree to infuse your home with festive style.
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In fact, the most beautifully appointed homes keep it simple by following these rules of thumb:
Pick Your Color Scheme and Theme
Pick a holiday anchor color and theme that best suits your home décor style and personality.
This year, the most popular holiday colors are silver, gold, red and green, winter white and watercolor shades of blue, pink and sage.
Then decide if you’re going for a classic holiday look, a woodsy country aesthetic, something more formal and elegant, or an ultra modern look.
Select a Focal Point
Once you’ve established the color and style you love, start building your display around a statement piece that creates an attention grabbing focal point.
For example, a large holiday lantern, a family of tall reindeer, a cluster of Christmas trees in mercury glass, bristle brush, wood or metal, or even a collection of tall candlesticks in varying heights and styles.
Add Visual Interest with Varying Heights
Use height to your advantage.All arrangements need a variation on heights to create visual interest and depth, and to give your eye a starting focal point.
Start with your tallest items and work downward ending with a base of garland, small figurines, votives, or even a cluster of ornaments, which also look great on a tray or in a glass bowl on the table.
Use Items You Already Own
Dig around in your kitchen cupboards, breakfront, bookcase, and attic for candy dishes, cake stands, platters, wooden boxes, framed mirrors and vintage books to spruce up your display.
This is an old trick that many holiday stylists and interior designers use to add height and interest to displays at no cost.
Create a Tablescape
Look beyond the mantel. Since many homes today have flat screen TVs above the mantel, holiday decorations have migrated to other surfaces in the room.
If you don’t have room on your mantel, create a stunning tablescape on a nearby coffee or side table.
Start with a great tray or platter in either a neutral color or metal finish that complements your main treasures or picks up a hint of your chosen holiday color, and build your display from there.
Mix In Some Softer Textures
Finish off your beautiful hardscape with a soft touch by adding a faux garland or sprays, or real greenery to your display.
You can even use garland on a coffee table or ottoman in a ring around your tray or as a centerpiece down the length of your dinner table.
Tip 2: Planning the Holiday Menu
With the decorating done, you can turn your thoughts to matters concerning the feast itself.
The key to a stress-free hostess experience is knowing how to delegate. Assign dishes to family members and friends. From hors d’oeuvres and side dishes to desserts and beverages, one dish per family will ensure there’s plenty of food and drinks to make your celebration a true feast.
That way, all you have to do is worry about getting the main course – the ham, turkey or roast beef — in the oven.
Tip 3: Setting the Holiday Table
Find tablecloths and napkins in colors you like and stick with them year after year. That way all you have to do is add a fresh centerpiece.
Don’t worry about matching china and flatware. The trend today is for eclectic table settings that mix and match patterns, colors and styles.
If you don’t have enough, borrow some place settings from a friend or family member.
Tip 4: Cleaning the House Before the Holiday Party
Spread your housecleaning chores across several days the week before your holiday celebration.
Dust one day, vacuum the downstairs another day and the upstairs the next, clean the bathrooms the day before, do the wash in the evenings, and so on.
It sounds simple, but this little tip saved my sanity. Before that, I was cutting it close with cleaning binges that left me a frazzled mess by the time company arrived.
Tip 5: Checking Off Your Holiday Gift List
Gift-giving is something everyone looks forward to, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money or go crazy buying holiday gifts for every guest.
Make gift-giving fun and easy by planning a grab bag or by assigning each family another family to buy for.
And don’t forget to stock up on hostess gifts. Chances are, your calendar is filled with holiday coffees, luncheons, and informal get-togethers with the girls, as well as couples cocktail parties, open houses, and charity events. I’m always surprised by how many small hostess gifts I need each year.
My best advice is to find inexpensive ornaments and votive sets and buy them in batches. They are the perfect hostess gifts and will be treasured keepsakes for years to come.
Tip 6: Creating a Holiday Centerpiece
Get creative with your centerpiece for you holiday party.
I love the idea of placing a faux or real garland in the center of the table and illuminating it with a strand of battery operated LED lights and a few votives. This is a great alternative to holiday flower displays, which can be expensive and take up a lot of precious table space.
Your Holiday Party Tips
Following these simple, stress-free hostess tips will not only get your home ready for the holidays but will put you in a refreshed and festive state of mind.
What steps do you take to make life a little easier when hosting your holiday celebration? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
All images in this post are ©Jennifer Bebon and used with permission.