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Plan a Holiday Party Like a Pro

Ideas, tips, and recipes for the perfect holiday soiree. Follow this list of guest-pleasers and you won't go wrong.

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Ideas, tips, and recipes for the perfect holiday soiree. 

Enjoy Yourself

holidays family meal

Whether you’re hosting just a few friends or a big, open-to-all affair, the best way to make sure your guests enjoy themselves is to enjoy yourself—a relaxed, unruffled host makes guests feel welcome and at ease. Do some preparation ahead of time and be sure to enlist help. Even if you’re doing the cooking, invite guest to bring a snack or appetizer to share.

Read on for holiday party ideas and tips to make this year’s festivities joyful and stress-free.

See also: 5 Ways to Incorporate Yoga into the Holidays

Use Eco-Friendly Dinnerware

According to the EPA, Americans generate 25 percent more garbage during the holidays. Head to the thrift store before the event for an eclectic mix of secondhand plates and tableware; serve drinks in jam jars; and invest in cloth napkins. Or look for compostable plates and utensils made of corn or potato starch and use recycled paper napkins.

Set the Scene

People are highly affected by their environments so plan accordingly depending on the mood you want. For a serene atmosphere, light candles, play soft music, encourage people to dress casually and go barefoot, and set up floor cushions to sit on. For an upbeat vibe, string twinkle lights, make a mix of lively, jazzy tunes, and let invitees know to break out their sparkly cocktail attire.

Also, rearrange furniture so guests can easily navigate the space. People will gather around food, so place tasty bites throughout your home to encourage movement.

Create a Mocktail Bar

Nothing says “party!” quite like tasty, fun libations. Even better: Set up a self-serve bar featuring festive, fizzy drinks. You’ll need juices (think seasonal flavors like pear, pomegranate, and tangerine), plus something bubbly—soda water, mineral water, or nonalcoholic champagne. Set out little bowls of pomegranate seeds, rosemary sprigs, mint leaves, and lemon and lime twists for garnish. Cheers!

See also: Mocktail Tips and Recipes

Throw a Cooking Party

Just because you’re the host doesn’t mean you should be the only cook in the kitchen. A cooking party lets everyone participate. Invite friends and family from all corners of your life. Within an hour or so, a beautiful meal appears that everyone—now closer than when they first walked in—has played a part in.

See also:Party Cooking Tips

Build a Small Bites Menu

If you’re hosting a large crowd, an hors d’oeuvres party could be your saving grace. Partially, or even completely, preparing food in advance means you’ll be out of the kitchen and mingling among guests. Even easier, if you make finger foods, cleanup is a snap.

If your party is held at dinnertime, plan on about 4-5 hors d’oeuvres per person per hour. That way guests will feel satisfied and you won’t end up with heaps of untouched food.