Survival Hacks Every Holiday Host Should Know

Whether you enthusiastically volunteered to host the first night of Hanukkah or got suckered into throwing the family Christmas celebration at your house, holiday entertaining is no small task – especially when you consider everything else we have on our plates during the holiday season. But you can make entertaining more enjoyable than stressful (really!) if you follow our easy hosting survival hacks below.

1. Use paper plates for an easier cleanup
Dirty dishes comprise the bulk of any party cleanup, but you can eliminate the dishwashing tedium by simply cutting out real dishes all together in lieu of paper plates. For a more environmentally friendly option, you could keep your porcelain or china for dinner but swap in attractive paper plates for appetizers.
2. Ask guests to bring their favorite drinks
Sure, you’re the host, but it’s still OK to accept food or drink offerings from guests. If you have the meal under control or are uncomfortable accepting an appetizer or dessert, ask guests to bring their favorite drinks. They’ll be happy to have something they love to sip on and you’ll be thrilled by the money you’ll save on alcohol.
3. Hire outside cleaning help
With everything you have to get done around the holidays – go grocery shopping, wrap presents, mind the kids who are out of school and jacked up on candy canes – there’s zero shame in hiring a cleaning service to help prep your home before guests arrive or tidy up after the big party. Trust us, it will be worth every penny.
4. Buy cheap stemware in bulk
Don’t sacrifice your crystal wine glasses to the hordes of drunk revelers. Head to Ikea or Bed Bath & Beyond where you can find elegant-looking stemware in bulk and on the cheap. For more casual affairs, Solo cups will do the trick. You can make them more festive by having guests customize their own by sticking a mini bow or holiday gift tag on it.
5. Serve semihandmade food and drinks
Sticking store-bought mini quiches into the oven, warming up a bottle of red wine sangria on the stovetop with cloves and cinnamon, or slicing up a pie from the local baker counts as homemade to us. And, hey, if you’re getting overwhelmed by the idea of cooking a turkey, there’s no harm in ordering one instead – even if you actually cooked the rest of the meal yourself! However much or little you actually handmake, your guests are just excited to be together with you. Taking shortcuts on the food and drinks is A-OK, especially if it means you’ll be less stressed and more present.
6. Simplify tabletop decor
Flowers can get pricey fast, so head to your nearest Trader Joe’s or Costco and bulk up on a single type or color of flower. Then, break up the bouquets into small arrangements you can sprinkle on surfaces throughout the house. The monotone color palette not only looks elegant, but is also fast and easy to arrange. You can find affordable vessels at Michaels or just head to your local grocery store or Target and buy a pack of charming mason jars.
7. Keep kids occupied
You don’t need an over-the-top playroom to keep kids entertained and out of trouble – just swap a tablecloth for kraft paper and provide them with crayons. And don’t be afraid to put them to work helping you pass around food or collect trash.
8. Prep and plan ahead of time
There’s nothing more stressful than realizing day-of that you don’t have enough chairs or are out of butter. Take inventory a minimum of one day before the party to ensure that you have time to get everything you need. And when you’re done, do all the food and decorating prep you can do ahead of time; for example, set the table, marinate the chicken, and swap out the bathroom guest towels. You’ll be glad you did.
9. Embrace the hodgepodge

Instead of driving yourself crazy over mismatched chairs and multiple sets of flatware, embrace it. The eclectic look is warm, inviting, and perfect for a cozy holiday with loved ones. 10. Accept help
Our automatic reaction to offers of help is usually “no,” but the truth is guests like the feeling of usefulness that comes with lending a hand. If your in-laws are staying with you over the holidays, don’t be afraid to hand them the vacuum cleaner or allow your best friend to take out the trash. These little gestures add up to big help. #baby #babyproducts