Want to host a holiday party everyone will remember, but without the stressful party prep you'll want to soon forget? Let our step-by-step plan be your guide. Cut down on your time spent in the kitchen with a simple menu and some store-bought extras. Rather than play bartender all night, big-batch cocktails allow guests to help themselves. Then, let a few easy decorations and a scented candle set the scene. With these party tricks up your sleeve, hosting that holiday dinner party just got much easier.
This stress-free menu comes complete with make-ahead recipes (a few savories and a sweet) and some delicious store-bought extras. Even better: The grab-and-go, finger-food-only menu requires no utensils, meaning less cleanup.
Making each guest custom cocktails? Forget about it. These big-batch drinks are crowd-pleasers, and guests will like that they can help themselves. Mix up a few of the recipes below before the party starts, then set them out on a bar cart, along with a bucket of ice, cocktail napkins, and garnishes.
Turn off your bright overheads and use candles to give off a warm glow and cozy scent. Before guests arrive, light a Glade Cozy Cider Sipping 3-Wick Candle. With warm notes of apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg, it will give the impression you've spent the day baking pies, even if your dessert menu is make-ahead.
To infuse the party with holiday cheer without subjecting folks to back-to-back tracks of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Feliz Navidad," mix traditional holiday tunes with modern favorites. Especially if your party is scheduled for later in the holiday season, guests will be grateful for a mix of new and old favorites.
Signal that the party is over (subtly). Lower the music, blow out a couple candles, turn on one light. If guests don't get the hint, resort to plan B: Start cleaning up.
Dole out leftovers. Buy to-go boxes for guests to take home leftovers ($13 for 50, save-on-crafts.com).
Tidy up a tad (then hit the hay). After guests are gone, take out the trash and recycling so your house doesn't smell when you wake up. Check for any spills or stains on furniture, but leave the heavy cleaning until tomorrow.