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Activities

25 tips for easy holiday hosting

Great ideas and shortcuts for a fun family party that's low on stress.

By Dana Dougherty Reinke
25 tips for easy holiday hosting

25 tips for easy holiday hosting

'Tis the season

The holidays are a time for family and friends but sometimes we get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of December.

If you're playing host this month, we've got 25 easy party tips to help stay you on track so you don't lose your cool.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

Timing is everything

Set a 3:30 start time — after lunch and (most) naps. This will give you all day to prepare for your guests and give the little ones enough energy to handle all the excitement.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

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Keep it simple

Food doesn’t have to be fancy to have a wow factor. Pretzels dipped in melted chocolate and sprinkles take only a few minutes, but look divine.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

Make your specialty

Have a recipe that you’re famous for? Great! Make it.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

Glam up groceries

Glam up your groceries with a few simple tricks: pretty-up plates with fresh herbs; top hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and some paprika; dust mini-cheesecakes with icing sugar.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

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Presentation points

Remove plastic containers and put everything on a pretty plate or in a lovely bowl. Add ornaments to the table to punch up your holiday decor.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

Turn the oven on

Warm up baked goods, such as cookies, pie and two-bite brownies, in the oven for a few minutes for instant oomph.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

Veg out

Prepared veggie and fruit trays are an easy way to get some healthy nibbles into the kids.

Get our fruit dip recipe here.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

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Jingle bells

Kids will go gaga for red and green Jell-O Jigglers cut into holiday shapes, like bells and stars.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

Kids can help

Give every family member a job. Little ones can be in charge of gathering coats and throwing them on a bed. (Ask a close friend to play bartender for the day.)

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

A room of their own

Set up a kid-friendly space with shareable toys; big kids can help supervise.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

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That's a wrap

Use beautiful ribbons to decorate your tree, and fancy up the buffet table with gorgeous gift wrap. When spills happen — and they will — it’s out (to the recycling) with the old and on with the new.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

Show your colours

Rather than using every decoration, edit your stuff: Choose two colours and one metallic for maximum decor impact.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

Punch in

Create a yummy kid’s punch. Try mixing up two options, such as grape, apple and ginger ale or cranberry, orange and Sprite.

Click here for our holiday mocktail recipes

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

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Get crafty

Set up sparkles, paint, pipecleaners and Styrofoam balls, and create dazzling decorations for the tree.

Try making these pipecleaner snowflakes.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: Jodi Pudge

Go au naturel

Decorate your mantel with lots of fresh boughs to create a beautiful, natural look. Just remember to spritz greenery with water daily to prevent it from drying out.

Kids can help by collecting pine cones for your display (here are some other winter activities kids can do, too).

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

Get faux fancy

Wrap store-bought bread sticks with prosciutto. Make grilled cheese sandwiches cut into festive shapes with cookie cutters — how about stars or gingerbread men?

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

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Pass the prezzie

Try this festive take on Hot Potato: Have kids sit in a circle and pass around a gift that’s been wrapped with several layers of paper. Whoever’s holding it when the music stops gets to unwrap one layer.

The person who unwraps the final layer gets to keep the present!

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

O Christmas tree

Protect your curious toddler by putting the Christmas tree in a play yard; always secure it to the wall with wire or string.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

Share love, not germs

Have kids decorate their own paper cups when they arrive so they’ll know which one is theirs — even if they can’t read yet.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

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Keep kids busy

Set up a cookie-decorating station. Cleanup is a snap when you cover surfaces with craft paper.

Try making these easy sugar cookies.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: RuthBlack/iStockphoto

Fun and video games

Host a friendly video game competition. Older kids will relish the opportunity to strut their stuff.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: ManoAfrica/iStockphoto

Customize

Rather than stocking a whole bar, offer one or two festive cocktails, such as rum and eggnog or mulled wine.

If anyone asks what to bring, suggest a bottle of white or red for the wine bar.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

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Beg and borrow

Ask around if you’re missing something essential to your party plans. Chances are at least one friend has a chafing dish or pretty punch bowl.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

Picture perfection

Capture your memories by taking lots of pictures and video.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

Relax and enjoy

The real point of a holiday get-together is to have fun with friends and family — so if appetizers burn or wine spills on the rug, just grab some eggnog and party on!

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto

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More party ideas!

Birthday party ideas: Detective theme>
We’ve got the clues to help you solve this elementary planning puzzle.

25 tips for easy holiday hostingPhoto: iStockphoto
This article was originally published on Nov 01, 2014

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