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5 Rules for Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining
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5 Rules for Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining

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1. Don't neglect yourself - Hey, hostess with the mostess, give yourself plenty of time to make your home party-ready, at least an hour before your guests are due to arrive. Use the extra time to put any finishing touches on your makeup, fluff the pillows, adjust the music volume, or just kick up your feet and sample your signature drink while you take in the ambiance you've worked so hard to create before your guests arrive.

2. Serve a signature drink - Instead of offering a full bar, prepare or stage the ingredients for one signature cocktail -- perhaps something like this Honeycrisp Apple Sangria by Nutmeg Nanny. I am a fan of a seasonal sangria, cider, or punch because it can be prepared in advance and in a large batch.

As we get older people are more likely to appreciate a bespoke cocktail and a simple glass of good wine. If necessary, you might offer a limited selection of wine and/or beer, but keep in mind that your guests are likely to bring beverages along as a hostess gift and you can always open those as well.

3. Deck the halls - Set the mood with some unobtrusive background music, dim the lights, hang twinkle light strands and garland, and light strategically placed candles. Be careful not to place candles anywhere that they might get knocked over too easily, and don't forget a nice holiday-scented diffuser or candle for the bathroom.

4. Make it personal - I'm a big fan of wearable name tags for groups of 20+ or table place cards if you're hosting a smaller group. Name tags make it so much easier for people to break the ice when you're not available to provide an introduction, and place cards for an intimate seated dinner just give the entire affair a more personal touch.

If you don't like the standard "Hello, my name is..." name badges, there are plenty of DIY options that could easily become wearable with a little double-stick tape like these DIY rosemary sprig name cards from Spoon Fork Bacon. Not into DIY? Here are some chalkboard-inspired labels or upscale name badge options -- just write in the guest name and you're all set.

5. Promote good party flow and inviting places to gather - Always ensure you have plenty of seating (even if it means bringing in extra chairs or creating low Moroccan style floor seating with cushions/pillows). Some seasonal throw pillows (pictured below), fuzzy ottoman style poufs (pictured above), and soft, cozy blankets make any seating option more appealing to your guests. If you create inviting seating areas, your guests will be more likely to congregate somewhere other than around the kitchen/food/bar, which eliminates bottlenecking and makes hostessing that much easier.

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Want even more tips and budget inspiration? Visit Lisa's blog: Think Like a Boss Lady!

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