Entertaining for the Holidays With Less Stress and Little Mess

thanksgiving dinnerTis the season for holiday entertaining, in which you gather friends and family for food, fun and festivities. Holiday parties almost always make for a good time, but preparing your home can be really stressful when you’ve taken on the role of party planner.

Below you’ll find some holiday party ideas that can help take some of the strain out of party planning, as well as some house cleaning tips to help you get your home ready for the big event.

Make a List and Check It Twice

It’s a good idea to plan by creating a list of everything you’ll need to clean, buy and prepare several weeks before you’ll be entertaining for the holidays. Add everything from decorating and cleaning to cooking and making sure you have plenty of ice to your list. Check off each item as you go to get a sense of accomplishment and to be certain you haven’t forgotten to do or purchase anything. Proper planning will decrease the amount of last-minute rushing around you need to do, so that you’ll have plenty of time to tidy up your home for guests.

Set Up a Holiday Cheer Station and a Buffet

You have to think strategically when you’re in charge of holiday entertaining. And when it comes to food and drinks, the less distance your guests have to travel, the less opportunity there is for spills to occur.

Designate a beverage station and stock it with everything guests will need including wine, beer, liquor, mixers, non-alcoholic drinks, cups and napkins. You’ll also want to put out an ice bucket and enlist a friend or family member to help you keep an eye on the level of ice as the party goes on. Or you can always simplify your beverage station by offering only water, sodas, wine, beer and something seasonal like mulled cider. The fewer components you have for making and serving drinks, the cleaner your home will be at the end of the party.

The same idea applies to your food table when entertaining for the holidays. A buffet-style setting reduces the amount of work you have to do, as guests can serve themselves. In addition to the food you’re serving, lay out plates, utensils and napkins. It’s also a holiday entertaining must to make sure there are serving utensils available. Forgetting to provide those means guests will use whatever they can find, which can result in some big messes.

In addition to giving guests a clear place to go for food and drinks, you need to make sure they know where to put their trash. If you’re using paper plates and plasticware, set a trash can out in clear view, so guests are less likely to place uneaten food or cups of melted ice on the floor where they can be trod on or kicked over. Environmentally conscious party hosts can set out a tray or plastic bins for their revelers to place their dirty dishes into.

Spruce Up Your Home with These Holiday House Cleaning Tips

Guests will only be in your home for a few hours when you’re entertaining for the holidays. If the date of your party is approaching and you’re feeling the crunch, pick and choose which areas you clean. The following house cleaning tips can give you an idea of which parts of the house do and don’t need to be addressed before holiday entertaining.

  • Clear out the fridge to make room for all the food and beverages you’ll be serving. You don’t need to do a detailed clean, but it couldn’t hurt to wipe down doors and shelves in case people find their way to the refrigerator.
  • Empty your kitchen trash can and any cans you might be using throughout the party the night before the event. Then line them with fresh trash bags so they’re ready to go the next day. Tip: Stock the bottom of the trash can with additional liners and ask someone to remove and replace full bags during the party. The extra liners in the can will make it simple to keep trash under control.
  • Wipe down kitchen counters, your backsplash and stovetop, as guests almost always end up gathering in the kitchen when you’re entertaining for the holidays.
  • Clear out some space in a closet so guests have a place to hang their coats and place their purses.
  • Tidy up cluttered areas that will be in plain sight, such as catch-all tables in your foyer or your kitchen counter. You can always toss clutter in an out-of-the way drawer and come back to organize it later if you’re short on time.
  • Unless you’re giving a tour of your home, close the door to your bedroom and guest room so you don’t have to stress about tidying up these areas.
  • Make sure you have a clean bathroom for guests to use and stock it with fresh hand towels, soap and toilet tissue.
  • Put away fragile items and fancy throw pillows that you don’t want to be broken or stained once the room gets crowded.

Now it’s time to start planning your holiday entertaining. Put these holiday party ideas and house cleaning tips to good use and you’ll not only be able to host a successful fête, you might even get to relax and enjoy it.