Stress-free tips and tricks for the holiday host
Planning ahead with well thought-out lists of what to buy and do before your holiday party will make you more relaxed, and your event more successful. "If you're hosting dinner, then think about what time you'd like to serve and work backward from there" suggests Paula Rizzo of ListProducer.com. "Your list should include deadlines for purchasing items and preparing them, as well as notes about who you can ask for help getting it all done." Having a list will get you out of your head so you are able to enjoy your guests, Rizzo says.
Ask for help
No need to be a one-woman or one-man show as the holiday host. According to organization expert and author of Unstuff Your Life, Andrew Mellen, "When planning parties, especially around the holidays when expectations and stress levels increase, consider delegating tasks to everyone willing to help. Many hands make light work." Mellen says that assigning clearly defined roles to some friends and family members who are otherwise not comfortable at parties may not only help you, but also make their evening better.
It may seem like you're spending your gift-giving budget on your holiday party, but with a little foresight you can reduce costs. "Buying supplies last-minute usually means overspending," so I pick up party-items like cocktail napkins, wine glasses, and tablecloths whenever I see a good deal, even if I don't have a party planned," says Carmen Wong Ulrich, president & co-founder of Alta Wealth Management. "Keep your party supplies organized so you can quickly and easily note what you have versus what you may be missing."
We tend to tidy up the living room and clean the bathroom before guests arrive, but we may forget about the kitchen, the place where people usually congregate. Andrew Mellen, author of Unstuff Your Life, says the easiest way to make the kitchen presentable is to wash any oversized pots, pans and bowls, and run the dishwasher if there's time. (You'll thank yourself later.) "Set out some snacks and drinks," Mellen says. "If your guests are busy eating and drinking, they're too busy to notice much else."
During the holidays when you reunite with loved ones, you want to look your best. You'll be on your feet at the party, so you need to be dressed comfortably. Luckily, being comfortable and stylish aren't mutually exclusive. Accessories expert and Kitten Lounge founder Kimmie Smith suggests that you transition from comfy to fab with a few carefully chosen accessories. "I'm all about layer pieces whether it's multiple necklaces or a few fabulous bangles," Smith says.
Wendy Diamond, animal lifestyle expert and founder of Animal Fair Media, says that the easiest way to get your dog or cat involved in your holiday fête is to dress them up in a bow with extra ribbon. If your pet is prone to getting nervous around too many people or too much noise, however, don't let that stress you (or them) out. In that case, Diamond recommends: "Put your pets in a quiet room away from all of the commotion, with their favorite toys, water and a treat so they can relax."
Food for thought
We've all heard that time is money, and this is especially true during the busy holiday season. Carmen Wong Ulrich, finance expert and president of Alta Wealth Management, knows the cost-benefit ratio of making everything for your party from scratch. "You may think you're saving money by doing everything by hand, but whatever money you save, you lose in terms of time and effort." To reduce the time you spend working on the party and stressing out about timing, she suggests: "Look to local vendors or specialty shops for ready-made platters or easy-to-heat finger foods."
Unwind with wine
Hosting or attending a holiday party doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on wine. If you're working within a budget, wine and spirits expert Michael Green suggests that you: "Look at less expensive grapes and regions. Rather than a pricey Chardonnay or Cabernet from Napa, look to some of the more affordable wines made from grapes from regions that offer up less expensive options. Think Carmenere from Chile or a Tempranillo from La Mancha."
Coffee, tea or flee
It's the sign of a good party if your guests don't want to leave, but you may be ready to say goodnight. Rather than kicking guests out of your home or staying up way past your bedtime, manners expert and author Thomas P. Farley suggests breaking out the coffee to signal that the night is winding down. "And if that doesn't work, bring out your slippers," he says. "Let's face it, hosting a party is work, and now you need your well-deserved rest."
Celebrating the holidays with loved ones is supposed to be fun - not stressful. Amy Spencer, author of BRIGHT SIDE UP: 100 Ways to Be Happier Right Now, encourages us to seek out the bright side, even when things feel like they are going terribly wrong. "If you spill a sauce, tip a tree, forget a present or burn food to a crisp, look for the ways they can add to the fun, not take it away," she says. "The good news is, the worse the situation, the more memorable your holiday will be."
Andrea Syrtash is a dating and relationship expert and advice columnist. She's the author of "He's Just Not Your Type (And That's a Good Thing)"and "Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband)." For more, visit www.andreasyrtash.com