Throwing A Stress-Free Christmas Party

Planning on throwing a Christmas party your friends and family will never forget, but don't want to get too stressed about it? Read on for some tips to a stress-free holiday party.

Christmas is a time to enjoy and unwind with family and friends as you eat Christmas meals and pass out gifts. The Christmas holidays also spread that winter bug that gets people in the mood for entertaining. If you fell victim to this entertaining bug and are starting to panic about your upcoming party, don't. Here are some ideas for throwing a stress-free Christmas party.

The key to any great party is to start planning early, and, by early, I don't mean planning the day before. Let's begin with the Christmas party invitations. There are many ways to go about sending out your party invitations, but whichever method you end up choosing, be sure to ask that all guests RSVP so you have an approximate headcount, which will help you when preparing your Christmas meal. Here are three options for your party invitations. You can take your pick. If you are a Martha Stewart type and just love the idea of homemade invitations, buy some plain or Christmas-inspired invitations or cards. Using a calligraphy pen or a printer, write or type out all of the essential information, including an "RSVP by" date and phone number. You can decorate the invitation any way you want with stickers, glitter or stamps. Another way to get your invitations is to simply go to any store and buy some. All you will be required to do is fill out the information. The third and final way is to go through an online invitation service that allows users to create an invitation that then gets e-mailed to all the recipients. The recipients can then respond back immediately with an RSVP. This is the easiest and least stressful way to send out an invitation and will let you know right away what your headcount is.

If you are planning on playing certain Christmas games (like White Santa) that will require guests to bring a gift, note this on the invitation. Planning for Christmas games is a way to ease a lot of stress at the party. If new friends will be meeting old friends, the games will serve as an instant icebreaker. Also, you can have a friend head up one of the games so that you can remain in the kitchen finishing up on any last-minute items.

You will want to determine your menu early on. Will you be serving a full course meal or will you be serving up finger foods? Finger foods will bring you the least amount of stress since they can be placed throughout your home and guests can simply nibble from different trays all night long. All you will have to do is refill trays and drinks. Determine what finger foods you will be serving and shop for the items early, at least four to five days in advance. Go through your menu and determine what can be easily prepared the day before. The less cooking you have to do the day of the party, the better. Also, do not be ashamed to buy any store-bought appetizers, if that will ease your stress of cooking or planning. Guests are coming to spend time with you for Christmas, not to judge your food.

As far as decorations go, there is no real need to go to great lengths decorating your entire home. If you normally put up a Christmas tree, that is really all you need. However, if you are determined to decorate more, focus on decorating the guest bathroom and the main living room where the guests will be. Plants (like poinsettias) and garlands, though simple, are great ways to decorate a room. Also, invest in a holiday music CD to create the holiday mood. Do not devote your budget to decorating. Your money is best used for great food items and gifts.

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