Entertaining during the busy holiday season should be easy. Over-planning can not only stress you out, but it can also create an over-done party. Select and prepare easy appetizers and create a welcoming and functional display for them. Most guests will appreciate the simple, yet elegant approach.
Yes, there is definitely planning that needs to be done when you’re hosting a holiday party. Once you’ve determined the guest list, it’s time to select the overall image, or feel of the gathering. Consider your space. Will the room be full? Do you want a small gathering to feel intimate, even though there is a lot of extra space? Consider the following:
- If you have a small space, or are expecting many guests, clear the room(s) of unnecessary furniture. Most of the time people will stand. You don't want people bumping into chairs, or other guests just to get to the cocktails or easy appetizers.
- Clear knickknacks from tables to make room for your guests to put their drinks or hors d'oeuvres plates.
- Keep lighting low, but not too dim. You don't want people pulling out their sunglasses because the lights are so bright, or having trouble seeing what they're eating because it's too dark.
- If you need to actually fill space, place an extra table with decorations and food in an open, but out- of- the- way place. Take dining room chairs and bring them in to create a conversation area for guests. Be sure to have some small tables for them to place their food and drinks nearby.
The food arrangement
Planning a menu can be the biggest challenge for any holiday party. If you're not hosting dinner, select easy appetizers people can eat in bite sizes. Avoid saucy and messy foods, or foods that can get caught in people's teeth, like spinach. Have plenty of cold appetizers prepared ahead of time so you aren't going crazy just before the party. You want to enjoy the festivities too!
Displaying your food and drinks should also be kept simple. Keep these tips in mind when setting the stage.
- You want to show off the food. Use simple, preferably white or off-white serving dishes. If you don't have these, use solid platters and not patterned ones. The same goes for the table- cloth. A solid, easy-on-the-eye color is best. You can always fill in with flowers or other small decorative pieces to add pop or to fill spaces.
- Place your "drippy" foods and dips near the front of the table. This way you won't have people dribbling the cocktail sauce from their shrimp into the crab -stuffed mushrooms as they're bringing the food to their plate or to their mouth.
- Arrange bite-sized easy appetizers so people can pick one up without touching all of them. Either space them apart a bit, or use toothpicks. Be sure to have an empty plate for used toothpicks (perhaps a few extra around the room) so people aren't dropping them in odd places.
Keep it organized
Have separate tables for food and drinks, and space them apart so you don't have a crowd of people concentrated in one area. Think ahead and have refills ready to go if a food platter is emptied, or drinks run low. Put extras in an easy-to-see place so a guest can help out if needed.
Decorations are fun, but again, think simple and sophisticated. All you need to do is create an atmosphere, not a circus.
Eliminate the stress of throwing a holiday party. As long as you have good food, delicious drinks, and the people you enjoy, nothing else truly matters. Keep it simple with easy appetizers, an uncluttered space, and a food display that is inviting.