15 Dec Holiday Entertaining Without The Stress – Party Ideas
Nothing raises a homeowner’s blood pressure quite like the words, “holiday party”. Guest lists are longer, expectations are higher, decorations extend far beyond a dinner table, and guests tend to linger longer. It is time to take a page out of the book of the world’s most successful people and think, “outsourcing”.
Many businesses use email services to communicate with their employees. These same services make ideal party invitations. Look up “free event sign up services” on the internet for ways to invite your guests via email. Private social media events on Facebook are also great ways to spread the word about your party. Be sure to include any gate codes on the invitation or give guards a guest list of those attending the party.
Do-it-yourselfers love decorating for the holidays. From the ladder that is a little too short, to the icy roof, many people love taking their life into their own hands to string lights that may or may not work. If you are entertaining during the holidays, take a note from corporate offices and let a licensed, bonded professional do the job for you. Many companies will create a unique design, install the outdoor lights and décor, service them throughout the season, and take them down in a timely manner after the holidays are over. By storing your decorations for you at their warehouses, they are then ready for the next season when you are.
Such a service does not stop creating a beautiful landscape, many realtors use home staging companies to place furniture and decorations in homes they are selling. Many of these same companies provide an indoor decorating service for the holidays. Not only will they discuss your design tastes and decorating needs, they will provide the materials, set them up, and when the season is over, take them down and store them. No more venturing into the attic to dust off the holiday tree! Don’t forget to discuss additional furniture with them as well. In many cases, they have a warehouse full of occasional tables and chairs that can create additional seating areas in your home for your guests.
Food & Drink
Even if you enjoy cooking, no host wants to spend the entire party in the kitchen. Hiring a reputable catering company who provides outstanding references can take the headache out of feeding your hungry crowd. Word of mouth is the strongest indicator of a caterer’s portfolio. Talk to your friends and family about their favorite caterers. Ask your favorite restaurant about their catering services. What you find may surprise you.
Consider forgoing a sit-down meal and opt, instead, for an extended cocktail hour. Serve several small warm and cold appetizers, with a few sweet options. Such a menu makes a party more casual and invites guest to mingle and converse with each other rather than sitting at a table.
Due to the number of parties during the holiday season, finding a bartender can be troublesome. Talk to recent graduates from the local Bartending School about tending a limited bar at your party. They will appreciate the exposure and chances are, they are not already booked for the holidays.
Buying alcohol in bulk at warehouse stores is a great way to save time when stocking your own bar. With the trend to serve a “signature cocktail” at parties, having ingredients on hand for one cocktail takes the headache out of anticipating your guest’s desires. Augment your signature cocktail with a red wine, a white wine, club soda or tonic water, and a few of your favorite liquors. And don’t forget the garnishes! Your bartender for the evening can arrange the serving area to their liking and prepare any garnishes for service.
While some catering companies bring stemware and dishes with them, you may be required to find your own. If you do not have a hundred wine glasses on hand, and the thought of using disposable dishes rubs you the wrong way, party rental companies may be your answer. Renting everything from table linens to flatware, these companies will deliver your dishware before your party and pick it up afterward. Some companies even offer event planning services that can do your set up and clean up as well.
Rather than relying on your guests to entertain themselves, provide a mix of entertainment throughout the event. Contact the music department of your local university for the names and phone numbers of pianists who may be willing to provide background music or accompany caroling. Talk to the local civic choir for references of small caroling ensembles. Carolers and musicians are often busy this time of year, but by hiring two different entertainers for a few hours each, and filling the space with your music player, you may find they have more availability while offering your guests a fun mix of entertainment.
No one likes to clean up after a wonderful party. Even your regular house cleaner may not do post-party clean up. In some cases, full-service caterers will manage dish clean up as a part of their package. If you are left holding the garbage bag, ask your service providers for references for a licensed, bonded, reputable cleaning service that will put your home back to its original, spotless form. From the hundred small plates to the wine stain on your rug, these services are worth every penny to allow you to enjoy your morning coffee instead of rolling up your sleeves.
People will thoroughly enjoy themselves at your party, but there must be a contingency plan in place for those who enjoy themselves a little too much. Have car or cab service phone numbers on hand for those who should not drive and a way to hold their car keys for safe keeping. If possible, prepare guest bedrooms for last minute overnight guests by placing travel-sized toiletries, a few extra t-shirts, and bottles of water in a decorative basket by the bed. Your guests will marvel at your thoughtfulness.
Entertaining does not have to be stressful this holiday season. Take a page out of a CEO’s book and manage the experts rather than doing it all yourself. Your party will turn out great, you will be credited for its success, and your efforts can be focused on the reason you are throwing this event – your guests.