Dinner table ready for christmas dinner

Hosting a holiday party is no easy task. You have to think about food, decor and entertainment – and don’t forget about the cleanup!

If you find yourself prepping for a holiday gathering and you’re not sure where to start, let us help. I talked to home and entertaining experts to get their best tips for mastering the art of holiday entertaining. We have everyone from designers to professional cleaners sharing their holiday party solutions. See what they have to say.

Go Green

When I say to go green, I’m not just talking about the ornaments on your Christmas tree. You can bring in natural, wintery elements by incorporating long-lasting greens like boxwood, holly and fir with your holiday decor.

Jeffery Welder, interior designer for Vant Panels, suggests keeping it simple. “Small bud vases filled with pine or spruce, set against a simple linen table setting and white or cream candles, give a natural look that is festive without being loud,” says Welder. A simple vase of greenery can be a nice touch to your dinner table, or it can tie all of your wintery decor together when used throughout the house.

Welder also suggests mixing in non-traditional greens to create a more modern look. “Add a pop of green and the hint of a lovely scent to your home by including eucalyptus. Weave branches of it into a wreath or hang branches from a festive bow on the door.”

If you want to do something non-traditional but aren’t a fan of eucalyptus, try some other hearty greens like magnolia leaves, junipers or even leafy herbs like rosemary, sage or bay leaves.

To really create a statement with your greenery, incorporate a strand of garland into your decor. It’s an understated way to make a big impact. “Garlands can be added to any space or an existing piece of furniture, and decorated with holly and berries or shiny ornaments,” says Welder.

Keep It Simple

It’s easy to go over the top with all the cute holiday decor. There are so many options to choose from. But you should be selective to avoid making your home look cluttered or gaudy.

Debora Balardini, co-founder of PUNTO Space in New York City, has a tip that will help you avoid holiday trend overload. “My tip is to keep it simple. Having a maximum of two or three colors for your decoration theme is always an approach that will delight guests,” says Balardini.

For a classic look, stick with the tried-and-true red and green theme. You can mix in some white to break up the colors and make them less overwhelming. Silver and gold is a traditional, yet elegant option if you’re going for a more formal holiday event.

For a trendy color scheme, Balardini says, “Minimalistic touches of Christmas or holiday ornaments in aqua blue with touches of white is very in right now.”

Make an Emergency Cleaning Kit

Even the best planner can’t predict when an accident will occur – especially during the holidays. Mulled wine spills, crumbly cookies and shattered bulbs are just a few of the things you might experience at your holiday gathering.

Lauren Haynes from Star Domestic Cleaners suggests having an emergency cleaning kit ready to go.

“The bigger the gathering is, the bigger the chance for something to break or be spilled. You should be prepared for such cases, so always have an emergency kit stored up with some proven stain removers like salt, soda and lemon, and a couple of rags,” says Haynes.

Having all your cleaning tools in one place will ease the stress if something happens during your party. You’ll know exactly where everything is and what to do so you can get back to entertaining as soon as possible.

Consider Dietary Restrictions

For guests with dietary restrictions, holiday parties can be difficult. Make gatherings easier for these guests by stating what’s in each dish – before they even ask.

“Sometimes guests feel uncomfortable asking the host what’s in the fruitcake, or if the cookies contain nuts,” says Jonas Sickler, marketing director at ConsumerSafety.org. “A great way to ease your guests’ stress is to place allergen cards on a buffet table. To be extra kind, you could even have a separate location for allergen-free foods to avoid cross-contact, because once a spoon goes from gravy to green beans, they’re off the menu if you have celiac disease.”

Have a Signature Drink

The holidays are the perfect time for a festive drink. There are so many seasonal drinks to choose from – eggnog, mulled wine, spiced cider and peppermint hot chocolate are just a few. But having a fully stocked bar takes up space. So what’s a host to do when space is at a premium?

Jamie Novak from Novak Organizing suggests creating a signature drink for your holiday party. “Instead of offering a fully stocked bar, opt for a single signature adult beverage. You can do this for non-alcoholic drinks as well to prevent having to stock up on soda, water, iced teas and more.”

Have Activities Available for Kids and Adults

Having activities available for your guests to partake in helps mingling happen – plus, some activities are just fun. Activities like board games, snowman-building contests, holiday movies and cookie decorating are all great ways to get people involved and encourage conversation.

If kids will be attending your gathering, the importance of activities is even greater. Sharon Schweitzer, founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, recommends including an activity space just for younger guests: “Set up a separate, fun room for kids with art projects, games, toys and movies.”

From the decor to the food, these professionals know what they’re talking about. Do you have other holiday entertaining tips that could help a fellow host out? Share them in the comment section.

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