Tips for holiday hosting

 (ARA) – ‘Tis the season to spend quality time gathered with family and friends at festive celebrations and holiday parties. However, don’t let the stress of hosting a holiday party overwhelm you – it’s easier than you think to plan an elegant celebration that is sure to impress friends, family and coworkers. Try the following tips to host a fabulous party this holiday season with minimal time, money and effort:
   Choose  easy-to-prepare dishes
   Every party organizer knows how difficult it is to be involved in the party when the food preparation becomes the main focus. Instead of slaving over the stove with full course meals or complicated recipes, try serving a variety of simple yet sophisticated pre-made appetizers and desserts.
   Personal touches make guests feel welcome
   Personalize the party for your guests. Adding small personal touches to the party takes some prep time, but it is an easy way to make guests feel warm and welcome in your home. Make mental notes about little personal details for each of your guests, and sprinkle these throughout the evening. For example, greet a friend with, “I’m so glad you’re here, I lit those cinnamon candles you love.”
   Also, create one or two signature drinks of the evening and personalize them with a special name, such as “Tracey’s Taste of Tuscany” or “Patty’s Peppermint Twist.” With custom cocktails, you’ll be creating a fun environment for guests and can even consider skipping the mess, hassle and expense of a full bar. For even more personalization, offer customized drink menus featuring your selection of drink options. Print this on a 4 x 6 sheet of paper with the title of your party at the top: “Parsons’ Party Cocktail Menu.” Then, simply adhere it to a standard 5 x 7 colored card stock and you have an instant drink menu!
   Turn your home into a holiday wonderland
   Decorate like a professional while sticking on budget. Use everyday items already found in your household to add simple and inspired touches that will fit any holiday party. On tables, create visually appealing layers by turning bowls upside down, stacking linens or sturdy boxes to hold platters, center pieces and candles. Easily accent plates with edible garnishes like flowers, fresh cranberries, olives, herbs or a swish of pesto sauce or swirl of whipped cream. Add vases and candles throughout the home to set a warm ambiance.
   For an added decorative flair, use elegant foil wrapping paper as a festive table runner, folding the sides for a nice clean, finished edge. You can also top the runner with a strand of berry garland for a festive touch. Also, wrap a coffee can in the same elegant wrapping paper and use as a vase to pull through the pattern and theme.
   Provide guests with a keepsake
   Organize keepsakes to help guests remember your party. Before the party, purchase miniature take-home boxes so you can send favorite appetizers or desserts home with each of your guests. Also during the party, snap a couple of photos with each of your guests and send the photos with an e-card or note afterward so they can remember the fun they had at the party.
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