With the holiday season bearing down on us, I know it’s likely that in the next couple of weeks you will either entertain or be entertained. When you’re the guest, holiday gatherings and parties always seem so stress-free since, beyond picking out a bottle of wine to share, your responsibilities are limited to physically showing up and enjoying yourself.
Hosts, on the other hand, often must deal with hair-pulling stress levels. Here are a few tips to reduce holiday party stress and allow you to actually enjoy your own event.
- Plan ahead. Don’t start thinking about the party two hours before the guests walk in the door. Even if you’re not cooking for the occasion, you still need time to go to the store and pick up snacks and drinks.
- Cook ahead. If you’re cooking for your party, unless it is a very small group, choose things that can be made in advance. Serve dips and room temperature appetizers, so you can set them out and forget about them. Stick with simple plating for main dishes. Offer a cookie tray as dessert instead of something that has to be served hot from the oven, like a soufflé.
- Know your numbers. Five guests? 55 guests? By estimating the quantities in advance, you won’t need to worry about running out of appetizers. For main dishes, Williams Sonoma suggests planning on 5-10 oz. of meat (uncooked) per person. It may be a bit more than you’ll need, but having a bit extra is better than running out.
- Don’t overextend. Keep your guest list down so your event is manageable. Only invite as many guests as you can easily handle preparing for. If you want to have a bigger get-together, opt for something more limited in scope, like a dessert party instead of a full dinner. If you only have time to prepare for 10 guests, don’t invite the whole neighborhood.
- Enjoy yourself. Let’s face it: you’re not throwing a party for your health. You want to have fun with your friends and make them feel relaxed and welcome. Don’t ruin the mood by panicking during the party. Take a deep breath and have a good time.