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How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Party

Don't Overthink It: These Easy, Elevated Holiday Hosting Tips Will Save You This Season

Hosting is an art form. It takes careful planning and prep work to welcome people into your home, keep the sparkling wine flowing, and, above all, ensure your guests are enjoying their evening. To take some unnecessary stress out of an otherwise hectic time of year, we've created a hosting handbook to save you during the holidays. From special touches to strategic shortcuts, put these tips in your back pocket ahead of your guests' arrival.

Lean on Your Local Bakeries


If there's one motto you should follow this season, it's work smarter, not harder — especially when it comes to food prep. That means mixing homemade dishes with the occasional store-bought item. Think: a selection of cheeses, dessert from your local bakery, or hors d'oeuvres made with frozen puff-pastry cups. It can even be as simple as buying prepackaged hummus and plating it with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of flaky salt. You'll probably convince some guests that you made it yourself!

Serve a Bubbly, Crowd-Pleasing Drink


While having a signature cocktail for your holiday event may seem like a great idea, you'll probably end up becoming the resident bartender through the night. Skip the five-ingredient-plus cocktail, and opt for a low-maintenance, simple pour instead. Our pick? La Marca Prosecco. With notes of honeysuckle, crisp apple, and fresh citrus, it pairs well with almost any refreshment. Plus, bubbles help make any celebration feel extra-special.

Add Small, Special Touches


Thoughtful, personalized details can really elevate your holiday events and leave a lasting impression on your guests. Try placing tea-light candles on the dinner table or hanging a pom-pom garland along the dining room doorway. Don't worry if you're not a big decorator, either: simple touches like arranging a winding velvet ribbon down the center of the dinner table can make a big impact.

Take Inventory of Your Dishware


You don't want to be scrambling for an extra cup during the party. A day or two before the event, assess your cabinet to make sure you have enough dishware for every guest during each dining portion — from appetizers to dessert. This will save you from doing unnecessary dishes during the evening and make the entire party go more smoothly.

Send Guests Home With Party Favors


If there's one unwritten rule to holiday hosting, it's never let your guests leave empty-handed. There are endless options when it comes to holiday goodie bags: homemade cookies, hot chocolate kits, festive ornaments. Our go-to? La Marca Minis. The bottles are the perfect size for party favors. Just package them up with ribbons and a personalized gift tag, then place them on a tray by the door so guests can grab a bottle before they head home.

Crowd-Pleasing Bites Are Key


Hors d'oeuvres are the way to go when it comes to holiday hosting. No, you don't need to continually pass out trays of stuffed mushroom caps with an accompanying napkin. Instead, place dishes around the room: a plate of sliced prosciutto and croutons on the coffee table, a bowl of castelvetrano olives on the kitchen bar. These small bites work especially well for those who don't have enough dining table space for 10 guests or for a party where you want food in one hand and a drink in the other.

Plan a Fun, Festive Activity


Between the eating and drinking, fill the downtime with a social activity that everyone can join in on. Forget the charades and pick a low-key festive activity like decorating cookies or opening up a few Christmas crackers. It's the perfect icebreaker for guests who don't know each other well yet, plus the conversation will easily flow throughout the night.

Design: Marissa Dickson; Images: Shutterstock, La Marca