Set the Mood with Music
Have a holiday playlist prepared. Music subscription apps such as Spotify or Pandora have a variety of great holiday mixes for you to choose from. I suggest a jazzy holiday mix for a cocktail party, but something calmer like a piano mix or classical music for an evening dinner with friends and family.
Candles Create Glow and Scent
Your space should sparkle for a cocktail party. Add glass, white ceramics, and metallics into the mix and it gives those flames a lot to bounce off of. Candles are great for creating ambiance. Lighting scented candles will provide a fragrance that is reminiscent to holidays past and will create a welcoming environment for your guests. I suggest a classic evergreen scent or a warm vanilla that reminds us of those yummy and sweet holiday treats!
Post-it Notes are Effective
Label platter/pots etc. the night before so everyone you have is out and everything you don’t need is tucked away. Make sure you designate and have ready a serving utensil for each dish.
Stick to Recipes You’re a Pro at
This is another way to reduce the stress of entertaining. You don’t want to be worrying about whether or not one of your dishes will turn out the way you expect it to. However, if you are set on a new recipe for your next holiday party, do a test run. If you don’t have time, many online recipes will receive comments and reviews from others who have tried making it. They often leave tips and suggested adjustments in their comments that can be very helpful.
Make a Holiday Sangria
You can buy less expensive red wines and add cranberries for a festive bowl punch. Not only can guests serve themselves, but you have also saved a lot of money by sticking to one type of alcohol.
Think about things that aren’t your strength or can be stressful, like desserts or sides and assign each of your guests’ something to make. Be specific and polite. This way you save money, anxiety and you enjoy the feast. Everyone will feel good about playing a role in the feast. Additionally, invite a close friend or family member over before party time to help pull everything together.
Create Party Stations
Having different locations for each phase of the evening will create movement within your party and will prevent you from constantly clearing and re-setting for each course. Start hors d’oeuvres in the kitchen so guests can snack while waiting for dinner. Dinner, of course, will be at the dining table. Have a coffee and dessert station ready ahead of time at another location, so that guests can help themselves once they’ve finished the main course.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Add the final touches before guests arrive. That way you can enter into party day ready to be a happy host and not stuck in the kitchen!