The holidays are the perfect time to reconnect and mingle with family and friends. However, the stress of hosting holiday get-togethers can sometimes be discouraging. This year, avoid a festivity fiasco by keeping in mind the following five preparation tips:

1. Turn kitchen chatters into hostess helpers: The day before your party, dig out all of the serving dishes you plan to use. After cleaning off the dusty ones, write the name of each menu item on a piece of self-stick paper, and place it on the appropriate dish. That way, when your kitchen visitors ask to help, you can simply point them to the pre-selected serving pieces that need to be filled.

2. Be your own barista: Add a creative and interactive activity to your party with a hot beverage bar; apple cider, cocoa and coffee can all be given a holiday twist by guests. Simply go to your local grocery store or specialty food shop for a selection of colored sugars, flavored sauces, marshmallows, whipped cream and cinnamon and peppermint sticks for your guests to add to their drinks. Not only is this a yummy addition to any holiday party, but it will keep your guests entertained while you’re putting the last touches on your holiday dessert.

3. Let the food be the star: Almost everyone likes the warm, sweet smells of the holiday season, but avoid the urge to stock up on and burn scented holiday candles that can overpower a room. Instead, reach for the scentless candles in festive holiday colors and allow the aroma of your food and beverages to set the mood.

4. Give the gift of leftovers: Everyone likes to share their leftovers but no one likes to rush around looking for matching bowls and lids when it’s time for guests to go home. Make this process easier by using inexpensive wax-lined paper cartons (bought at craft stores). This will allow guests to transport food home without the hassle of returning your expensive storage containers – something everyone will appreciate. If you have extra time before the party starts, customize containers by adding each guest’s name and the date of your party.

5. ‘Tis the season for drips, dribbles and spills: Stains left by gravy, red wine and cranberry sauce are some of the toughest to remove, and they are all, unfortunately, par for the course at holiday gatherings. Have supplies handy to take care of the inevitable accidents that will grace your surfaces this holiday season. 

Courtesy of BPT