Guests often ask “How can I help?” Here are some jobs that most party-goers would be happy to take over and relieve some of your holiday stress.

By Melinda Page
Updated January 19, 2009
Real Simple November 2006
Credit: Anna Williams

Checking Coats

Assign the kids or an early arrival this task so you won’t have to run back and forth between the front door and the bedroom.

Tending Bar

Set out all the glasses and trimmings, then anoint someone bartender for the day, or let guests mix their own drinks. “I do a Bloody Mary bar on Thanksgiving morning,” says Martha Hall Foose author of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales From a Southern Cook (Clarkson Potter, $32.50). “It becomes somewhat of a competition to see who makes the best one.”

Lighting Candles and Filling Water Glasses

Just before you’re ready to serve the meal, enlist a helper to put the finishing touches on the table.

Making Coffee

Fill the pot with ground coffee ahead of time, then put a guest in charge of starting the machine after dinner and delivering cups to the table. Have the cream and sugar ready to go before the meal, and show the server where they’re stashed.