The Holiday Survival Guide

Oh, the holidays! The fun! The food! The family feuds and stressful traveling and blown budgets and. . . food. Here’s how to ride it all out.

  • Send the invitations.Make it clear whether children are welcome. Include a definite ending time—4 p.m. to 7 p.m. is ideal—so guests don’t arrive while you’re mopping up.
  • Plan a stress-free menu.Serve foods that can be prepared ahead of time. Limiting beverages to sparkling water, juices, and red and white wine should satisfy everyone and makes a bartender unnecessary. Create a schedule of when each dish can be made, as well as a shopping list.
  • Reserve any needed rental items.The rule of thumb is two plates, forks, and glasses per guest. (Rental glasses—tumblers are more worry-free than stemware—are a time-saver, since you just rinse and return them.) Alternatively, approach friends about borrowing items.
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