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Throw a Simpler Holiday Party

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Updated May 14, 2011

While it would be easiest to just skip the holiday party altogether, some things are worth the effort, and holiday parties definitely fit into that category! However, there are some nice shortcuts you can take that will detract nothing from the fun of the party, but will allow you to stay more relaxed and keep stress from ruining your good time! Try the following:
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Less!

Here's How:

  1. Plan Ahead- Well-planned parties run more smoothly and create less stress. This means sending your invitations out well in advance so you know how many guests you’ll have (invites should go out two to four weeks in advance), and having the basic structure of the party planned early so you’ll have time to get everything you need, clean your house, and refrain from scrambling to get everything done the day before.

  2. Hire Help- The simplest way to cut down on stress and free yourself up is to hire help. (Imagine enjoying your party as your guests do!) You can go all out and hire a caterer, a bartender, and even rent the tables, chairs and dishes you’ll be using, for less than you might think. You can also hire people you already know (like the teenagers down the street) to serve food you order in, or ask some good friends to pitch in with some party responsibilities. Many hands make light work.

  3. Make it a Potluck- Asking everyone to bring a dish is a great way to cut down on the expense and work of a party: you get a variety of food, your guests get to feel like they’re contributing to the fun that everyone’s having, and you don’t have to do it all by yourself! The food is also a great conversation starter and ice-breaker for your guests. You can even have people exchange their recipes on cards, allowing everyone to go home with some great dish ideas to start the new year off with!

  4. Forgo the Full Bar- Relax, this doesn’t mean that you should forgo alcohol at your party altogether, but you can save a lot of money and hassle and still have plenty of drinks for people if you follow a tip I learned from Oprah: have just one specialty drink that you serve, such as margaritas or a certain kind of martini, and offer beer and wine in addition. That way, the job of bartender is much easier, but there’s still some variety.

  5. You Get One Drink… Another way to simplify the bartender job is to make the drink area self-serve. You can welcome your guests with a drink as they arrive, and let them get their own thereafter. With a simplified bar, it should be easy for people to serve themselves, and nobody’s tied down with the job of getting drinks all night.

  6. It’s Your Party: Have Fun! Now that you’ve simplified some of the more consuming aspects of party-throwing, relax. (You’ve earned it!) Keep in mind that you threw a party to have fun with your friends, and everyone will have more fun if they see you enjoying yourself, too. That’s why they came!

Tips:

  1. You might want to use an online invitation service like Evite. They'll invite your guests via email and keep a running list of the rsvps, even sending reminders as the event nears, a map to your house, and offering other bits of help.
  2. If you're doing a pot-luck, be sure to have a general idea of what type of dish everyone is bringing so you can fill in the menu holes (provide a salad if nobody is bringing one, for example) and avoid having eight desserts and no main dish!
  3. Leave small disposable cameras around the room so your guests can play photographer. You'll get a nice surprise when you get them developed, get to see parts of the party that you may have missed, and won't have to even think about taking pictures all night!

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