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.
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.Photo: iStockphoto
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.Photo: iStockphoto
Have a recipe that you’re famous for? Great! Make it.Photo: iStockphoto
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.Photo: iStockphoto
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.Photo: iStockphoto
Warm up baked goods, such as cookies, pie and two-bite brownies, in the oven for a few minutes for instant oomph.Photo: iStockphoto
Prepared veggie and fruit trays are an easy way to get some healthy nibbles into the kids.
Get our fruit dip recipe here.
Kids will go gaga for red and green Jell-O Jigglers cut into holiday shapes, like bells and stars.Photo: iStockphoto
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.)Photo: iStockphoto
Set up a kid-friendly space with shareable toys; big kids can help supervise.Photo: iStockphoto
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.Photo: iStockphoto
Rather than using every decoration, edit your stuff: Choose two colours and one metallic for maximum decor impact.Photo: iStockphoto
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
Set up sparkles, paint, pipecleaners and Styrofoam balls, and create dazzling decorations for the tree.
Try making these pipecleaner snowflakes.
Wrap store-bought bread sticks with prosciutto. Make grilled cheese sandwiches cut into festive shapes with cookie cutters — how about stars or gingerbread men?Photo: iStockphoto
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!
Protect your curious toddler by putting the Christmas tree in a play yard; always secure it to the wall with wire or string.Photo: iStockphoto
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.Photo: iStockphoto
Set up a cookie-decorating station. Cleanup is a snap when you cover surfaces with craft paper.
Try making these easy sugar cookies.
Host a friendly video game competition. Older kids will relish the opportunity to strut their stuff.Photo: ManoAfrica/iStockphoto
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.
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.Photo: iStockphoto
Capture your memories by taking lots of pictures and video.Photo: iStockphoto
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!Photo: iStockphoto
Birthday party ideas: Detective theme>
We’ve got the clues to help you solve this elementary planning puzzle.
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