The holidays mean entertaining family, friends and associates in your home. For some folks it’s an easy process that they love and for others the idea of hosting a special event strikes terror in their hearts. Whether you love entertaining or simply endure it, I’ve got a few tips to make make holiday entertaining run smoothly.
1. Plan your party or get-together around a theme. This will help if you don’t have a clue as to where to start first with your planning. It will also help if you have so many great ideas that you’re having a hard time narrowing them down. Defining a theme gives you a focal point around which to build all of your food, decorating and invitation ideas. Every theme can be interpreted differently – allowing you to approach it in a variety of ways – so you still have decisions to make but at least they’ll be more focused.
For example: Imagine using a theme of a ”tree trimming party.” There are several ways to approach this theme:
- Approach #1: Set up a table with craft materials and have guests make their own personal ornament to take home with them as a party favor.
- Approach #2: Set out big bowls of popcorn and cranberries and while guests sip, savour and chat around the fire they can string garlands for your tree.
- Approach #3: Still another idea is to have each guest bring a gift wrapped tree ornament and as they arrive you write a number on the bottom of their package. Then when everyone has arrived guests draw numbers that correspond to one of the wrapped ornaments. Everyone then unwraps their gift ornament to the oohs and ahhs of others.
- approach #4: An obvious, but none-the-less fun, approach is to have your tree set up and your decorations unpacked and filling baskets so guests actually decorate your tree while they chat, eat and listen to holiday music.
2. Create an invitation to match your theme. The invitation provides your first chance to set the tone for the party and capture the invitee’s attention. Like the theme, the invitation interpretation is up to you. For example, a tree trimming party invite might be:
- An inexpensive store-bought round ornament on which you use a permanent Sharpie to write the date/time/location
- A scrapbooker or card maker might place a paper ornament on the front of the card but use a real ornament hanger on it
- If garland making is planned, fill a small take-out container with unbuttered popcorn surrounding a computer printed invite cut into a tree shape.
3. Welcome guests before they step inside. Decorate your front door, porch or walkway so guests know something special is going on:
- Hang a wreath or swag on the door.
- Light entry window boxes, porch railings or topiaries.
- Line the walk with lanterns or luminaries.
4. Decorate a table to reflect your theme. If you’re serving a meal, whether a buffet or sit-down, incorporate your theme into the table setting colors and centerpiece. If serving cocktails and hors d’ouvres or cookies and punch, decorate a side table 0r coffee table. For the tree trimming party:
- Fill tall cylinders with colorful ornaments.
- Write the guests’ names on an ornament to use as a place card.
- Use miniature trees on your serving table and tuck ornaments into a centerpiece of winter greens.
5. Give guests a small gift at their place setting or as they leave. For the tree trimming theme, if they made an ornament or exchanged an ornament, that’s their gift. If you opt to make garlands then give guests a little tree ornament as they leave .
Whatever you plan, make sure you enjoy yourself! Give yourself a head-start by selecting food and decorations that can be completed ahead of time. It’s more important that you spend time with your guests rather than in the kitchen. If you’re entertaining close friends, you can ask each of them to bring something for the table – a pot luck is easy and it can be a tasty adventure.
What holiday entertaining tips have you found useful over the years? Leave a comment by clicking on the link below and share your ideas – no matter how big or how small someone else will find it useful too. How do you like to entertain during the holidays and how do you manage to enjoy the event yourself?