We are at the peak entertainment season of the year. Your social calendar probably feels full to bursting until after the new year. And you may be hosting a get-together yourself and are starting to wonder how you’re going to pull it off. We have some ideas to help you out.
1. Keep it simple.
Unless the highlight of your year is planning and preparing a seven-course feast, feel free to scale back. Think about your favorite parts of parties and focus on those. Do you prefer appetizers and cocktails to a sit-down meal? Then have an appetizer and cocktail party. Would you rather just eat holiday cookies? Have a cookie exchange and serve your guests coffee, tea, apple cider and hot chocolate. If you’d rather skip having food as the focus of your festivities, have a movie or game night with some simple snacks — think nuts or popcorn with beer and soda.
For decorating, don’t feel compelled to turn every room of your house into a winter wonderland. Decorate a few of the areas where your guests will be to make things feel festive. Candles, wreaths, glass bowls full of colored ball ornaments in the living room and a small display of heirloom ornaments in the dining room can make your party feel cozy and festive. Holiday music turned on low instantly sets the mood, regardless of the number of decorative snowmen you have.
2. Keep it manageable.
There’s no shame in getting help wherever you can. If you don’t have the time or energy to make food for your party, have it catered or buy things from the grocery store — there’s nothing wrong with serving your guests a lasagna from Costco. (Transfer it to your own pan and no one will even know!!)  You can also plan a potluck dinner and ask (or assign) people to bring a dish to serve. That lets you focus on making the things you enjoy and ensures you’ll have plenty of food.
The same philosophy goes for decorating. You don’t have to make everything yourself. This time of year, the stores are loaded with fun decorations to fit everyone’s style. So even though Pinterest may tell you it’s imperative that you make your own wreaths and garlands and tissue-paper snowflakes, it’s absolutely OK to just buy them.
3. Keep it fun!
Obviously, you want your guests to enjoy your party. And you want to enjoy your party. Why else would you have a party? While people are often perfectly satisfied with sitting around, talking and eating, you may want to plan a few activities. This is an especially good idea if children are going to be at your party. Put out a stack of card games and board games for people to play. Have some holiday movies or cartoons ready to show on the TV. Get some coloring books, crayons, and colored pencils. You can pick up some kits at the craft store for easy-to-assemble ornaments, mosaics, jewelry, etc. to keep guests of all ages entertained.
Another entertaining activity for kids and grown-ups? Decorating holiday-themed cookies and cupcakes. Put out bowls of frosting, sprinkles, nonpareils, marshmallows, raisins, and pretzels and watch the fun begin!
Don’t worry about having everything go absolutely perfectly at your party. Chances are something will go wrong — guests might argue with each other, the rolls might burn, or a child might spill grape juice on the rug. Take some deep breaths and try to go with the flow. Have extra paper towels and cleaning spray on hand. Accept that you can’t control everyone and everything. And don’t worry, you’ve got this!