Guest written by Jennifer Scott of Spirit Finder for PhiladelphiaMFT.

​The holiday season is upon us! For many people, this means it’s party time. Hosting a gathering (or multiple gatherings), though, can be stress-inducing for sure. If you get your party game face on and prepare a plan of attack, you can make your hosting duties a walk in the park.

1. To-Do List
Once you know you’re throwing a party, put together a to-do list of all that needs to be done in preparation for your party. Then you have a checklist to reference as you complete your tasks. Plus it really helps you stay organized from the get go! Try using an app like TickTick or keep a running written list that you can check off as you go.

2. You Are Cordially Invited
Determine your guest list and then send out email invitations. Many of these online services have built in reminders that can be added to a calendar, or they can send prompts to those who forget to RSVP.

3. Keep To A Budget
Avoid financial stress by setting a budget for your party. This will enable you to focus on the more important stuff, like the food, music and drinks. It can also help you determine a theme and general plan if you know how much you can afford to spend.

4. Easiest Party Plan
One of the easiest and most flexible approaches to a holiday party is the open house. This gives you and your guests breathing room, plus it takes the formality out of the event. If you have a set window of time, people can come and go as they please. With everyone else trying to figure out how to cope with holiday stress, this is win-win for everyone.

5. Finger Foods
In keeping with the open house theme, try serving snacks instead of dinner. This equates to quick cleanup afterwards. And do what you can to prepare food ahead of time. Nobody has to know if your crudite platter came from the grocery store, so consider ordering from a specialty food store or the grocery to cut down on work. Provide more than enough food so you don’t run out of anything, it can always function as leftovers later in the week!

6. Drinks for Everyone
A quick and easy method for providing drinks is a self-service beverage station. If you’re having specialty cocktails, mix up a batch and keep it on ice, but leave bar staples and mixers for guests to choose from. Not everyone, however, will be interested in a cocktail. Consider avoiding the pitfalls of not remembering that Cousin Mellie has given up alcohol. (For people who are in recovery, this time of year can be difficult because of the abundance of alcohol.) Help Mellie avoid an awkward conversation by offering plenty of alcohol-free punch or specialty drinks.

7. Pre-Party You Prep
Factor in some downtime for yourself the day of the party. Take a nap, go for a walk or relax reading a book. Taking time to unwind before your guests arrive will pay off later. If you’re elaxed, your guests will be relaxed.

8. Clean Up Time
Employ a quick cleanup strategy for before and after the party. Consider using disposable plates, napkins, and utensils to eliminate mountains of dishes after everyone leaves. Place multiple wastebaskets around gathering areas to allow several options for quick cleanup. Designate specific areas for coats and purses so nothing is left behind. Make a point to enjoy your party and the time with your guests. Remember, this is an occasion to celebrate the season with friends and family, and it’s not about being perfect. It’s about having fun.

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