6 Steps to a Hassle-Free Holiday Gathering

by Katie Meyers of MeyersStyles for GalTime.com

Throw the perfect holiday party... without the hassle! Throw the perfect holiday party... without the hassle! Tips on hosting the perfect holiday party

The holidays are supposed to be eventful, not stressful.

And because there's no greater time to gather your loved ones together for good cheer, allow me to show you how to host a beautifully festive holiday gathering with ease in 6 simple steps!

1. Plan ahead. The ultimate way to create a stress-free holiday is to live by a list. Make sure you include as many details as possible, including when to set the table and what time items go in the oven. Also, don't be afraid to take a guest up on their offer to bring something - that's one more item you can cross off your list!
Plan Ahead Plan Ahead

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2. Prepare food in advance.
Prepping ahead of time will free you up to take care of other important tasks. Try cooking and freezing food in advance and defrost a day before the event.

For recipes that call for chopped veggies or fruit, cut them the day before and place in airtight containers - you'll be able to pull them right out of the fridge to easily add to your recipe.

Prepare Food in Advance Prepare Food in Advance

3. Keep appetizers simple. Serve items you can assemble in a snap by buying ready-made ingredients and giving them a homemade twist! A few of my favorites are roasted nuts sprinkled with cayenne pepper, toasted pitas with hummus, and easiest of all - an assortment of cheese, meat, and fruit displayed on a platter.

Keep Appetizers Simple Keep Appetizers Simple

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4. Keep settings simple. I share this tip from personal experience. Last year, my husband and I hosted a holiday dinner in our Manhattan apartment. Looking back, I laugh at how much thought I gave each detail - innovative name cards, an over-the-top centerpiece, stylish napkins! All this on top of preparing a meal? I'm surprised I've hosted a party since! I realized our family was there to see us, not my entertaining skills…(although, that table looked darn good!) Once guests sit, they move the place card aside anyways (clearly this wasn't an area worth stressing over). If you still want your table to feel special, focus on one aspect - a festive napkin or tying a pretty ribbon around each set of flatware.

Keep Settings Simple Keep Settings Simple

5. Set up a self-serve bar. The key to simple drink service is allowing guests to be their own mixologist. Create an area for a selection of wines and spirits, mixers, coffee, tea, and garnishes. You can also add a fun twist by providing one signature cocktail such as this cranberry cocktail. (Bonus: This cocktail can be made the morning of the event and left in the fridge all day!)

Set Up Self-Serve Bar Set Up Self-Serve Bar

6. Most important - relax! As the host, you set the tone of your gathering, so allow yourself enough time before the party to freshen up. Your relaxed attitude will rub off on your guests, so spread the joy! Check out a even more tips on how feel like a guest at your own party.

Do you have other suggestions for hosting hassle-free gatherings? We'd love to hear your feedback!

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