polyvoreI feel like November and December just fly by. Our days are filled with work and school, and our weekends will be jam-packed with holiday parties and family time. It’s one of my absolute favorite times of the year, but it can also be the most stressful. It’s all about balancing a million things at once so I thought I’d share some tips for easy, stress-free holiday entertaining. How can you throw a fun party without losing your sanity, but still keeping some style? Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Don’t make everything on your menu from scratch. I love to cook and bake, but it’s a ton of work to host so take some help from the store. The great philosopher Ina Garten once said, make one thing really well and buy the rest. I think that’s a great entertaining philosophy. I typically make the main course, a couple easy side dishes, then buy the appetizers. I rely a lot on the pre-made section at Healthy Living Market for delicious hors d’oeuvres. 
  2. Whatever you don’t buy, make ahead. No one wants to show up when you’ve got a kitchen full of dirty dishes and you look like you’ve been stressed out, cooking all day. So make a pot of something ahead of time (like some beef stew or homemade soup) and just pop it on the stove and reheat it when you’re ready to eat. My goal is to have the dishes done and counters cleaned when guests arrive so I can spend time catching up with people and not standing over the stove. 
  3. Skip traditional print invitations (save yourself the time addressing all of those envelopes then buying stamps at the Post Office!) and use Paperless Post. They have some really festive options (the deer holding the wine is pretty much the Gowan’s in a nutshell) and their system helps you track RSVP’s easily so you know exactly who’s coming. I just used them for Hadley’s birthday party invites and it was a breeze. Plus they have some really cute designs and can make you printed invitations if you’re looking for something less casual. 
  4. Keep it casual. We have a really small house so we are not set up for a big, elaborate party. Instead, I like to invite friends and family over for something more laid-back (I absolute love to mix a rustic wood look with plaid during the holidays). It’s a fun, put-together theme, but still casual and won’t make people feel like they’ve stumbled into something fancy that they weren’t expecting. 

So share your tips below! What is the secret to your success to throwing a stress-free holiday party?