11 Hints for Easy Holiday Entertaining

It's the most wonderful time of the year. But let's be real – it can also be the craziest.
The good news: whether you're having a cocktail party with a few friends or inviting over the whole family, hosting a holiday celebration doesn't have to stressful.
In fact, here are a few tips and hints to make it merry and bright:

11 Hints for Holiday Parties

  1. Keep your cool with make-ahead cocktails. Make classy cocktails fit for a special celebration – a few days ahead of time! These stunning, sweet-tart Pomegranate Kiss cocktails are perfect for the holidays. Best of all, you can just grab 'em out of your freezer when your guests arrive.
    Pomegranate Kiss cocktails recipe | Tastefully Simple
    Bonus tip: For a frosty touch, rim your glasses with sparkling sugar. Or add fresh mint for a festive garnish.

  2. Make your list and check it twice. A little organization goes a really long way. Writing down everything in advance will help you feel less stressed and avoid a bunch of last-minute errands to the store.

  3. Deck your halls – and table – in advance. The night before your party, set the table with all of your platters, linens, plates and silverware. It will be a terrific time (and stress) saver on the big day.

  4. Make some awesome appetizers. Whether you're having a casual buffet or a formal dinner, make it easy for your guests to munch and mingle with a few festive apps. As a rough rule of thumb, count on 10-12 pieces per guest.

    And if you want to dazzle your friends or family, try a couple of these surprisingly simple recipes:
    Honey Teriyaki Chicken Bacon Bites (my personal fave!)
    Cheesy Blossoms
    Antipasto Kabobs

  5. Make your own mini desserts. Bite-sized desserts are the hottest trend right now, and it's so easy to make your own! Just use the Silicone Bar Pan for baking mini cakes and brownies. Or try this delicious recipe for Dessert Crostini.
    Dessert Crostini recipe | Tastefully Simple
    Bonus tip: bake your pound cake the night before, so it cools completely and it's easier to slice. On the day of your party, you'll be able to make your crostini in minutes!

  6. Bring some earthy elements into your décor. Tie fresh rosemary sprigs into napkins. Put fresh cranberries in clear jars. Or add a couple bowls of pretty pomegranates or citrus fruit to your buffet. Not only will they add a pop of color, they'll smell amazing, too.

  7. Set out some self-serve snacks. Trust me – it's the best way to keep kiddos (and grown-ups) happy, especially if you're running behind schedule. At our house, everyone always gathers in the kitchen, so I've learned to set a couple trays on the counter with favorites like:
    Fresh fruit
    Artichoke & Spinach Warm Dip
    Chips
    Crackers
    Assorted cheeses
    Sweet Pepper Jalapeño Jam over cream cheese
    Sliced salami

  8. Keep warm items warm. Once you're done cooking, turn your oven to 200°F. It will work like a warming drawer for storing any hot dishes – and food won't burn if you forget to take it out.

    Or you can put your slow cooker to work on the lowest setting! It works great for warming everything from meatballs to mulled cider.

  9. Keep the wine – and water – flowing. In general, count on one drink per guest per hour. (That typically means about 1 bottle of wine for every two guests.) Be sure to offer plenty of non-alcoholic options, too, like sparkling water.

  10. Create a cozy atmosphere. Fireplaces tend to generate a lot of heat if you have a full house, so consider lighting a few candles in the hearth instead. Otherwise, battery-operated votives can add a warm glow everywhere, too. (Oh, and with dimmer lighting, you don't have to stress quite as much about dusting and vacuuming, either. Since I have two dogs and two kids, well … I get excited about extra perks like that.)

  11. Set the mood with merry music. And don't forget to stream your favorite holiday playlist on low. Since several hours of holiday music can be a bit much, though, consider mixing in some jazz or other mellow tunes for variety, too.

What are YOUR secrets for celebrating (or surviving) the holidays? We'd love to hear about your tips and hints for easy entertaining!

Happy holidays, friends!
- Jen

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