How to Host a Laid-back Holiday Party

gingerbread men

All year I look forward to hosting a holiday party in December. Even as a college student I strung up lights, put on a dress, and invited my friends over to drink wine in real glasses while listening to Frank Sinatra (classy).

But, alas, I have tendency to bite off a bit (or a lot) more than I can chew. There have certainly been years when the night before I was wide awake at 3 a.m., crying into the cookie dough because I thought I had time to make 9 different types of cookies, and clean the house, and DIY a ton of super cute decorations, etc., etc. But with age comes wisdom (or at least a higher value on sleep), and I’ve learned your friends will be totally impressed that you made two different kinds of cookies (or even just bought the damn cookies.)

With that, here are some tips for hosting a laid-back party (that’s still super cute and fun, because that’s the point right?)

  1. Use the buddy system. Whether it’s your partner, friend, sister, whoever, get a buddy.  Make a list of things to do/buy/make. Divide and conquer.
  2. Accept help. When people ask if they can bring something, say yes! Wine, ice, crackers, cookies– all easy things guest could bring!
  3. Keep decor simple.  Focus on decor elements you’ll leave up after the party, like your tree and lights, along with a couple of elements to make it feel extra special.  (This year I’m going to make a few of these easy cranberry & orange candle holders and buy a pine garland.)  Under no circumstances should you be awake in the middle of the night with a glue gun in your hand.
  4. Make easy snacks that look impressive. Think: killer cheese board, easy dips, and buy some delicious crackers and chips. Trader Joe’s is definitely your friend here– people of all ages and persuasions go oddly crazy for their party meatballs. (Also, no utensils! Make food people can eat with their hands, with only a napkin, while standing up if necessary. This makes everyone’s lives easier and removes the possibility of you furiously washing forks mid-party.)
  5. Don’t over-complicate the bar. Create a festive bar area with a couple types of liquor, mixers, wine, and a cooler for beer, sparkling water, etc. and let everyone have it. Step slowly away from the cocktail shaker and please don’t muddle anything! (But glittery ice cubes never hurt anyone, right?)

Above all remember, these are your friends. You probably invited them because you think they’re awesome and fun and they think the same about you. They aren’t going to notice or care that you didn’t dust your baseboards or have a pinterest-worthy signature cocktail. And if they do– don’t invite them next year! ha!