THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HOSTING A PARTY DURING THE HOLIDAYS: 5 Festive Recipes + 7 Simple Solutions That Minimize Stress and Maximize Success - Part 1

Indulging in delicious food, sipping on cocktails, making memories, and being surrounded with love, laughter, family, and friends are a few reasons people of all ages look forward to holiday gatherings year after year. If you are hosting the party, however, things can feel quite overwhelming, and transform even the most gracious host into the grumpy Grinch.

I set up two posts, part 1 and part 2, that together outline recommendations on how to host a party during the holiday season with as little stress as possible. 

Part 1: simple ways to reduce worry, increase success, and 
encourage effortless planning when hosting a holiday party.




I've teamed up with Vitacost to put together a two-part holiday campaign. The overall goal of this campaign is to offer practical solutions and recipes that lessen worry and increase success when hosting a party during the holiday season. Seeing that nothing will ever get me as excited as online shopping does (no, I'm serious), especially during the holiday season, I am not ashamed to say that I order from Vitacost on the regular...Frequently enough to provide suggestions that, I hope, will transform your party hosting experience from daunting to feasible.

This post lists 7 solutions for stressors common among party hosts along with practical tips and helpful ideas to help jumpstart the hosting process in a calm and confident state. These efficient stress-reducing tools can also be implemented year-round and during any event hosting task. The end of this post also offers an organized list of recommended products to use before, during, after the party.

Part 2 of this campaign shares recipes for the host to easily prepare and delicious options for the guests to enjoy. 

Let’s begin with Part 1. 
Read through this list of 7 common stressors among party hosts 
to find easy ways to reduce worry and find success.


Stressor #1: not knowing where to start when hosting a holiday party
Solution: get organized and begin planning as early as possible


Tip: stay organized and create checklists categorized by party host responsibilities
Tips
  • create checklists.
  • begin planning at least 3 weeks before a small event and at least 5 weeks before a large event. 
  • first points to solidify: date, budget, guest list, and location.
  • send invitations electronically to save time and paper.
Ideas
  • for added organization, make separate checklists for each party host responsibility, like planning, cleaning, and menu. 
  • begin addressing special dietary needs and food allergies of each guest to help keep worry low on the day of the event.
  • work to stay within budget by shopping online from a site that offers sales, free shipping, and items at discounted prices. Luck has it that Vitacost fits the bill, quite literally.


Stressor #2: finalizing the food and drink menu
Solution: keep the menu simple and manageable


Pictured above is 1 of 5 festive recipes I share in Part 2,

Tips
  • commit to preparing only two food dishes and one specialty cocktail.
  • solicit help from catering services, friends, and family for the remaining food and drink requirements.
  • choose uncomplicated recipes that require minimal ingredients and gadgets.
  • avoid bartender duties during the party by choosing a specialty cocktail that can be served from a pitcher or drink dispenser.
  • offer a variety of beverage choices like water, juice, tea, coffee, and soda. Wine is another ideal alcoholic option since it's easy to serve and liked by many.
Ideas
  • all 5 recipes take roughly 1 hour of total active prep time to prepare. 
  • all 5 recipes require only one kitchen appliance, a food processor (aside from common tools like mixing bowls, utensils, etc).
  • all 5 recipes are free of common allergens like gluten, wheat, soy, eggs, dairy, shellfish, and peanuts.
  • the specialty cocktail I created is made in and served from a pitcher.
  • serve wine with more ease with this electric wine bottle opener.


Stressor #3: preparing all recipes in time for the party
Solution: choose recipes that can be prepared beforehand


Make sure all recipes made in advance will keep well overnight,
like all five recipes I share in part 2
The cold brew coffee maker pictured above requires little effort to make a delicious iced coffee. It can conveniently be prepped in advance and stored in the fridge. 

Tips
  • develop a daily task timeline for each recipe.
  • aim to have all recipes made the night before the party.
  • double check that recipes created beforehand will keep well overnight. 
  • fill the food table with festive snacks.
Ideas
  • a daily task timeline is available for each of my recipes, organized by steps to complete three days before, two days before, and one day before the party.
  • all five of my recipes are prepared in advance and keep well in the fridge.
  • lessen food prep by stocking up on seasonal snacks. A list of recommendations is at the end of part 2.


Stressor#4: shopping for recipe ingredients and party necessities
Solution: purchase what you can online




Tips
  • find an online store that carries a majority of necessary party recipe ingredients and products to limit shipping and delivery costs.
  • stay within budget and find an online site that offers sales and discounts. 
Ideas


Stressor#5: cleaning the house before, during, and after the party
Solution: be smart about cleaning and simplify cleaning tasks





Cleaning Products (clockwise, beginning on the left): 
All-purpose spray bottle (found at Target for under $2)
Multi-Surface Concentrate: this brand sells pre-made sprays, but buying the concentrate helps save money. Just mix with water in a spray bottle, like the one listed above, and use it all around the house. Bonus: it lasts forever!
Laundry Stain Remover: always a necessity after party shenanigans. I love that it's fragrance-free and actually works.
Room Fresheners: I love this as a quick option.
Pure Castille Soap: this product can be used in so many ways. It's a staple in my cleaning closet.
Reusable Towels: eco-friendly towel that can be used for many cleaning tasks like mopping (using a reusable towel or cloth is more affordable than buying the cloth specifically made for name-brand mops), cleaning surfaces, using as napkins, wiping up spills, etc.
Squirt and Mop Floor Cleaner: you literally squirt it on the floor then mop it up, no rinsing required and this specific kind smells heavenly.
Dish Soap: it's non-toxic and formulated specifically to fight grease.

Tips
  • de-clutter the home by getting rid of items you no longer need. 
  • list cleaning tasks to complete, starting a week before the party, and check off a couple of tasks each day.
  • use earth-friendly tableware that can be recycled to reduce dish cleaning.
  • fill the sink with warm water and mild plant-based dish soaps for a place to hide and soak dirty dishes during the party.
  • fill take-home containers, like these, with leftover food and encourage guests to take one as they leave. Less food to store or throw away!
  • purchase cleaning products online.
  • after guests leave, immediately attend to spills and stains. 
  • if it's too late for major cleaning once guests leave, at minimum take out trash and recycling before bed and leave other matters for the following day.
Ideas
  • donate items you no longer need to charity. This creates happy feelings by both organizing your home and giving to those in need.
  • reduce cleaning time by using more convenient products like squirt and mop floor cleaners and all-purpose sprays.
  • spend less and save trees by using these eco-friendly reusable towels.
  • considering party packs like this Eco-Friendly Clean Collection Set. It includes essentials like plates, cups, forks, spoons, knives, and napkins. Bonus: the container doubles-down as a two-dish serving bowl.


Stressor #6: constantly worrying about hosting a party during the holidays
Solution: be purposeful in lowering anxiety and supporting a peaceful mind
* and yes. Stressing about being stressed is a thing!



Essential Oils pictured from left to right: 


Tips
  • use an essential oil diffuser for aromatherapy.
  • workout regularly.
  • make time for self-care activities that encourage rest and relaxation.
  • at least an hour before bedtime, dim the lights and start to unwind.
  • be diligent and timely with completing checklist tasks 
Ideas
  • I fill a diffuser with lavender for a natural way to fight off anxiety.
  • being active signals the body to increase endorphin production that improves mood and increases positive feelings. Even if pressed for time, a quick 10-minute walk around the neighborhood is sufficient to gain benefit.
  • get a massage, enjoy a mani/pedi, take a warm bath filled with calming bath soaks, read a book, or have dinner with a significant other or friend.
  • enjoy hot teas that promote rest and relaxation for a perfect way to unwind before bedtime.


Stressor #7: throwing a fabulous party enjoyed by all
Solution: set the mood and create a welcoming space




Tips



  • turn off overhead lights and instead use table lamps with low-wattage bulbs and candles.
  • use a diffuser to fill the party space with pleasing aromas. 
  • decorate with fun party supplies, like these pearl bamboo toothpicks pictured to the right and these these eco-friendly supplies.
  • personalize the party for guests
  • have a game plan (quite literally). Set aside games for a fun surprise element.
  • create a music playlist ahead of time to include both traditional holiday tunes and popular party songs.
  • if budget allows, make holiday-themed gift bags for guests to take when they depart.

Ideas
  • a Himalayan salt lamp, pictured to the right, is a great option for lighting. It's believed to improve air quality and boost mood while also creating a welcoming atmosphere.
  • diffuse essential oils like sweet orange, rosemary, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, or clove for a festive atmosphere.
  • add name cards and menus to the dinner table for an added personalized touch
  • check out this Christmas bingo game. I also found a list of holiday games that are suitable for all ages (click here to view).
  • fill gift boxes with holiday favors (click here for ideas that are all under $25)
  • remember to eat, drink, mingle, laugh, and enjoy the party!




Useful Products Before the Party

Planning Pad for Checklists
Online Store (aim to use one that offers sales & free shipping, like Vitacost)

Useful Products During the Party

Seasonal Snacks

Useful Products After the Party

Everything listed in "useful products before the party", seen above

  1. Sparkling Cranberry Holiday Cocktail
  2. Sweet Potato Cheesecake Parfaits
  3. Walnut and Pumpkin Seed Cranberry Spread
  4. Spiced Caramel Fruit Dip
  5. Homemade Coffee Creamer – 2 Ways
Click Here to visit part 2 and discover manageable and delicious food and drink recipes




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