It’s just over a month to Christmas and the next six weeks are going to be a whirlwind of school concerts, Secret Santa’s and wrapping presents. It’s going to push you to the very brink of your sanity because what would the holidays be without a little stress. Except this year, I’d like you to imagine your holiday soirée completely stress free. That’s right, it can be done.
So go ahead and stress about what to get your kids teacher and if a 25 pound turkey will be big enough, but don’t lose a wink of sleep about your holiday party. This year you’ve got a plan from beginning to end.
Pick a Date
Now. Not tomorrow, or even worse next week. This very second get out your calendar and pick your date, then immediately email all your friends and family with the details. December has a limited number of prime party spots available so you want to get yours early.
Pick Your Outfit
Decide what you’re wearing and make your hair appointment. We’re going for stress-free here remember? Don’t leave this detail to the last minute.
Plan Your Menu
Not long after you pick your date, you’ll want to plan your menu. The idea here is to find recipes that can be made before your party. For example, if you plan to put out Christmas cookies, make them up to a month ahead of time and freeze until the day of your party. Dips can be made a couple of days ahead. Punch can be made in the morning and set on the back step to chill for the day. Chili is always a hit, so start that the morning of your party in your slow cooker. Leave the fussy recipes for intimate dinner parties. Your guests are there to see you, not have you serve them hand and foot all evening.
All Hands On Deck
Unless of course you live alone and then you’re it. Otherwise, get your kids and your spouse cleaning and prepping because this party isn’t just for you now, is it?
Make Your Ice
I’m putting this at number five not only to remind you but to remind myself! It always seems to be the last thing I think of.
Get Your Playlist Together
Music sets the mood. I love mixing it up over the holidays with a mix of traditional Christmas music, some classic oldies and some new favourites.
Don’t have a punch bowl? Relax. Who has a punch bowl nowadays anyway? Use a big salad bowl or for a super trendy way to serve it, put it in a big cookie jar. I like to put mine in the center of a wreath and wrap a ribbon around the top. Pick up serving trays and bowls at the dollar store. Don’t break the bank trying to out-Pinterest everyone. Get creative with what you already have and your bank account will thank you.
Keep the Kids Busy
When my kids were younger I would hire a babysitter, or two, depending on the size of the crowd, to keep younger guests amused and me free to entertain my guests. As they got older they needed less personal attention but still love fun things to do. Individual gingerbread houses are a great way to keep kids amused and provide a party favour to take home. Alternatively, have board games and Christmas movies ready to go.
If someone offers to bring something, say YES!! Better yet, have a list of things ready so that when people ask what they can bring you can cross it off your list. Dinner rolls. Check. Dessert. Check.
Relax on the Bar
Stocking a full bar can be expensive and by extension, stressful. Pick a couple of affordable red and white wines, offer two selections of beer (a IPA and a dark ale) and a punch which covers off your mixed drink option. Don’t forget to include a non-alcoholic version for children and drivers. Because I like you, I’m going to do you a solid right now and give you the ONLY punch recipe you’ll need this year. This Festive Punch from Ocean Spray is perfectly refreshing with just a touch of spiced rum to make it perfect for the festive season. A definite crowd-pleaser, this punch is also very pretty served in a punch bowl, in large pitchers or in a large glass jar (see above).
Have Take-Out Containers Ready
There is nothing I hate more than wasting food. Have fun containers ready to go and that you don’t want back (who needs that stress) for guests. Send them on their way with leftovers and they’ll be clamoring to come back next year. Added bonus, less for you to clean up after.
Clean it Up
My parents were the masters of this. No matter what time a party ended they cleaned up the entire house before they went to bed. As hard as that can be at 2am, believe me you’ll be so happy when you wake up the next day with a clean home and happy memories of the night before.
Special thanks to Ocean Spray for sponsoring this holiday post. May your holidays be merry and your parties stress-free.