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It’s time to gather again. Tips for hosting a holiday party safely and deliciously.

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Yes! We can finally gather again for the holidays if we take a few precautions. And those precautions are well worth the chance to see our family and friends. So, let’s celebrate with some stress-free, affordable fun. We all deserve a bright and festive time to reconnect.

Safety first

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises the following for holiday gatherings:

Okay, now that we’re feeling good about safety, let’s get down to the party planning.

Skip the formal invitations

Sending invites by email not only saves money and postage. It also helps you keep track of who’s coming, and your guests can keep track on their email calendar.

Get everyone involved

When someone says, “How can I help?” have an answer ready. Ask them to share their favorite appetizer, nuts, drink, cookies, a pie, or a bag of ice. It always gets the conversation started when guests arrive with something in hand. And when they leave with their serving pieces, half the clean-up is done.

Friends gathering for a holiday photo

Make the most of your holiday décor

One of the nicest aspects of a Christmas party is that you’re likely to have a tree up in the house, lights outside, and a wreath on the door anyway. Now, they become wonderful accents to invite people to celebrate.

The same is true for families celebrating Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. It’s fun to use special family pieces that add a touch of nostalgia: your grandmother’s menorah and dreidel, your mother’s Kwanzaa candleholder with red, green, and black candles, your aunt’s turkey platter and gravy bowl can all add a meaningful aspect to the celebration.

If you don’t own a lot of holiday décor, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family if you can borrow plates and serving trays. People are usually more than happy to lend them since they typically get used only once a year.

Everyone looks better by candlelight, so no matter the occasion, put candles out in abundance. Battery-powered candles should be used in areas where people and clothing might get too close.

You can make an easy floral centerpiece by filling a clear vase with fresh cranberries and water and adding white carnations or chrysanthemums. Or surround a candle in a hurricane holder with cranberries. The cranberry color is festive for all occasions, including Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and the berries last for weeks. Cranberry-themed cocktails are fun and festive too! Use any evergreens or magnolia leaves in the yard to fill in arrangements or garlands.

Outdoor gatherings are great at the holidays

Gather around a fire pit. Offer up marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars for s’mores, and everybody’s smiling! This is a good time to invest in a patio heater in colder climates, and some easy-to-launder throws to snuggle in.

Don’t skimp on food or drinks

You don’t need to go overboard with expensive menu items but be sure there will be plenty of food to go around. After all, you can enjoy the leftovers from a dinner party for many meals to come or send your friends home from a cocktail party with a few appetizers and cookies to enjoy the next day.

Cookie swaps, hot chocolate bars, potluck suppers, or simple soup luncheons are great ways to have fun without spending a bundle on food. And of course, you can ask guests to bring their own wine or liquor while you supply mixers, soft drinks, tea, or coffee.

People at a holiday gathering

Let the music play on

Make a playlist everyone will enjoy, sprinkled few traditional holiday favorites. Or rely on Spotify, Pandora, or Alexa to come up with an appropriate mix. A little free entertainment puts everyone in the mood, but make sure the volume is low enough to encourage conversation.

Make a toast

Turn down the music for a moment and tap a glass (or ring a “bell.)” Let your guests know how happy you are to have them with you. It doesn’t have to be a speech, just a few words of thanks to say you care. If you’re feeling nervous about what to say, falling back on a quote from a historical figure or author that you admire can help break the ice and get the good cheer flowing.

Don’t forget the bathroom!

Make sure you offer your guests a clean and tidy restroom. Have plenty of hand soap and guest towels on hand. Check the toilet paper supply. The bathroom is yet another place to add some holiday spirit with a scented candle and a bud vase with flowers.

A little something to remember the moment

Send your guests home with a simple, tangible “thank-you-for-coming” memento. Nothing fancy, maybe something homemade like an easy snowflake ornament, a wrapped muffin to enjoy in the morning, or a candy cane tied with a spring of evergreen.

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Sources accessed 11.1.21-

CDC Your Guide to Masks

Spotify: 10 excellent Christmas playlists for your holiday parties

Creative Holiday Party Ideas to Make Things a Little Extra This Season

12 Secrets to Hosting a Stress-Free Holiday Party

Send online invitations in 3 easy steps

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