December 2, 2013 6:24 pm
The holiday season is a perfect time to welcome friends and neighbors for a casual get-together that is warm and casual and relatively stress-free.
Party planners at Countryliving.com suggest eight easy steps to a successful soiree for hosts and guests alike:
Plan early – Send out invitations 3-4 weeks in advance, making it clear whether children are invited. If you plan a buffet, with guests coming and going during designated hours, check your stock of baskets, trays, and other serving supplies. Decide whether you will use real china, glassware, etc. or holiday paper or plastic – and purchase what you need early.
Plan the menu – Keep it simple, with a selection of appetizers, sandwich fixings, salads, and desserts that can be prepared days ahead of time and frozen or refrigerated until party time. Using recipes you have tried before is a good way to please your guests and stay calm and confident.
Make desserts special – Everyone loves cookies, so bake up dozens far in advance of the party. Consider pudding or mousse in pre-filled, refrigerated glasses. Add fresh fruit, and a favorite pie or two, and you’re done.
Foster the flow – People tend to follow the food, so set up stations throughout the living area. Place beverages on one table, main dishes together, and desserts on their own table. Stack plates and napkins, put utensils in a basket, and have waste baskets readily available.
Select the drinks – Offer your choice of red and white wine, beer, soda, tea and coffee. For kids, consider juice boxes.
Remember the kids – If children will be there, set up a game and puzzle table in one area of the living room. Have a selection of board games and jigsaw available, and perhaps a few coloring books and crayons.
Decorate early – Except for fresh flowers, which may be bought the day before, you can cover the tables, set out centerpieces and serve ware, and deck the halls with your favorite holiday décor days before the party.
Do a last minute check – Moments before the guests are due, take a last look around. Check the food tables, set out last-minute cheeses or condiments, and turn on some holiday music. Light a scented candle or two to fill the house with the welcome aromas of sugar and spice or forest greenery.