Everyone loves a holiday party. The merriment and joy, the love and laughter, coordinating with the caterer and making sure your gluten free appetizer is also vegan…wait. We all know that hosting a holiday party can be an overwhelming experience, but who’s to say you can’t enjoy it? Here are some tips from JLNO members on how to spread cheer without losing your ho-ho-holiday mind.

#1 Be (Over) Prepared

It’s important to do as much as possible in the days leading up to your event and keep things simple. I like to simplify the bar by serving beer, wine (always with a sparkling option!) and a special cocktail. My family’s favorite holiday drink is Brandy Milk Punch. You can make it in bigger batches a day or two ahead of time and it is perfectly festive and delicious! Pick out, and lay out, serving pieces in advance of your party and put slips of paper with what will go in each dish. That way, if someone is there to help you, they know what belongs where. Don’t try to be everything when you’re entertaining! It is important to know what you do well and do that, outsource the rest. And remember, a little festive hair flair is ALWAYS a good idea. – Rachel Stickney, JLNO Active

Hosting a Successful, Stress-free Holiday Party
#2 Let’s Get Digital

If you are hosting a large holiday meal and people are offering to bring items, create an online menu template. You can outline the major components you will be serving, for example, the proteins, vegetables, dessert and wine. Then, invite your guests to sign up to bring their favorite dishes to fill the table with an amazing array of everyone’s specialty. You can also invite them to share their recipes! – Alicia McCraw, JLNO Active

Hosting a Successful, Stress-free Holiday Party
#3 The Kids Are Alright

Get the kids to help with the prep work so they feel like they are part of the event. My kids love to help decorate the house and create pre-cut assembly only decorations. I can also get my oldest (7 years) to set the table and mix ingredients in the blender. I even let him cut vegetables if I can be nearby to oversee. – Amber Beezley, JLNO Sustainer

Hosting a Successful, Stress-free Holiday Party
#4 – Curate Your Crowd

The best parties introduce new friends! A holiday party offers you the opportunity to invite people that you’d like to get to know better. It also gives you a chance to connect friends from one circle to another. Be thoughtful about your guest list, mixing up interests and perspectives while creating a comfortable, fun, and interesting environment for all! – Mollye Demosthenidy, JLNO Active

Hosting a Successful, Stress-free Holiday Party
#5 Have Fun With It

Entertaining is supposed to be fun! You have got to loosen up about all these things that you worry about. Entertaining is a gift you give to your friends and you want to make it the best gift ever. They’re there to see you! You don’t have to be a flower designer; you just have to have a garden you can pick from. I love seated dinners, but if you love to cater or have a buffet – whatever style you love, do because your friends are there to see you. – Bev Church, JLNO Sustainer