When making holiday party plans this year, why not take the pressure off yourself and host a low-stress get-together? Here are some easy-on-the-host party ideas for making spirits bright this holiday season:
Throw a cookie bake-off
For a twist on the traditional cookie exchange that’s easier on guests, invite friends over to make cookies with you. Simply mix up several types of dough in advance and have plenty of cookie cutters, sprinkles, candies and icings on hand. Decorate as a group, have a “bake off” of guests’ creations, and send everyone home with bags, tins or trays of freshly baked holidays cookies.
Wrap it up
Take the bah-humbug out of wrapping all those gifts and host a gift-wrapping party. Invite friends to come with the presents they need to wrap, and ask each guest to bring a roll of wrapping paper, ribbons and bows, some gift bags, gift tags or other wrapping supplies. Stock some tables (folding tables are fine) with pretty papers, gift trims, scissors, tape, pens and markers. Set out some appetizers and drinks, put on some holiday tunes, and turn one of the stressful aspects of the holiday season into a fun and productive social event.
Host a holiday coffee
People’s calendars tend to fill up this time of year, so why not host a get-together at a non-traditional time, such as 8-10 a.m. on a Saturday morning? Invite the neighbors for a come-as-you-are coffee. Serve java and juice and put out some fresh fruit and breakfast treats you’ve baked yourself or picked up from your favorite bakery. Guests will appreciate the chance to gather informally and will be out the door by the time the stores open.
Have a tree trimming party
For a festive yet casual holiday party, invite guests to decorate your Christmas tree. Have it set up and strung with lights before guests arrive, set out ornaments and hooks and let guests add the trimmings. If kids are invited, consider setting up a craft station where they can create ornaments to take home. You can set out bowls of popcorn and cranberries for young and old to string and add to your tree. Play some holiday music and serve appetizers, sandwiches or cookies, depending on the time of day.
Get a room
If throwing a festive holiday party appeals to you but cleaning and decorating your home do not, consider hosting guests in a private room at an area restaurant. The possibilities range from a pizza party or casual cocktail buffet to an elaborate, sit-down dinner. Reserve your room now, choose a menu and send out invitations. Then, leave the work to the experts and be a guest at your own party.
Make merry music
Perfect for families, a caroling party is a simple way to spread the spirit of holiday joy. Invite guests to gather at your home to practice some songs before bundling up and taking to the streets of your neighborhood to carol from house to house. Afterwards, return home for pizza, cookies, hot chocolate, eggnog or other easy refreshments. The St. Louis Christmas Carols Association (stlchristmascarols.org) will even provide song sheets and collection cans for those who would like to collect donations to help area children.
Call a caterer
Hiring a caterer to prepare at least some of the food is the No. 1 way to lessen the stress of hosting a party at home. You’ll have professionally prepared, beautifully presented foods for guests, and when you factor in the time and trouble you would have expended shopping, cooking and cleaning up after yourself, you’ll find the service is well worth the cost. Caterers can help with menu planning, and many provide servers to set up, keep the buffet stocked, tend bar, serve guests and clean up during and after the party