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The holiday season is meant to be a fun and warmly cherished time of year, but planning and preparing for it is typically anything but.  Getting big family meals planned, dragging out old decorations, and buying new ones to arrange around the house, and then getting yourself in readiness to host any kind of party can easily wipe out anyone’s energy reserves.  To keep things more hassle-free this holiday season, and to revitalize your festive spirit, here are several holiday party planning tips that are sure to deliver.

Make Your List – Then Check It Twice:

Lists are going to be your best friends in this endeavor, so treat them well and surround yourself with as many of them as you can – but keep them practical and organized.  The very first thing to decide (several weeks in advance) for your party is the date you want it held on.  This is likely going to be equally influenced by the guests you plan on inviting, so this is also the time to make and refine your guest list.  If you’re planning on inviting family from out of town, or if you have friends and neighbors who will also be busy around the time of your party, check with the key group of people that you want at your event in order to figure out which date works best for everyone.  Once you know when your party is going to be, and who will be there, you’ll have a definite deadline to keep in mind, as well as have a more definite idea about the number of people you need to prepare for.  Go ahead and get some festive holiday cards sent out. That way, everyone will know about your party well in advance – something that’s beneficial to you both.

Do Your Research:

Utilize all of the creative resources around you, whether they’re magazines and catalogs or online articles and image gallery slideshows.  Figure out what kind of theme you would like for your party and whether or not you want to do any of the decorations yourself.  Decide what you’re good at, and for what you might want to rely on a professional source.  Having a bakery or catering service prepare a few platters for you can really go a long way toward freeing up your time and relieving some stress.  If you have any friends who are creative or who like to bake things, ask if they would like to take part in the party and help bring it all together.

Virtual Is Easy:

You don’t have to do all of your party shopping in person, especially with the number of retailers that have online shopping destinations and the number of apps available for shopping.  Make a list of items that you know for certain you need/want and that you don’t feel obligated to see and handle in person before buying.  Then, make another list of must haves that you either need to buy in person or would feel more comfortable checking out in person first before purchasing.  This will cut down on the amount of physical running around you have to do and the amount of stuff you’re trying to drag back home.

Holiday Dress Rehearsal:

As all of your preparations come together, pick a lazy day – perhaps on the weekend – when you don’t have anything planned and run through a few things to see if there are signs of later bumps in the road.  Arrange platters on a buffet or table tops to see if everything will fit, keeping in mind room for any decorations you may want to add to those areas as well.  Analyze your seating areas and whether or not your furniture is arranged in a way that will optimize traffic flow – you don’t want your guests to feel cramped.  If you have any food recipes you’ll be trying out for the first time go ahead and make them at this point as well as a sort of test run.  This way you’ll know what to expect ahead of time and won’t have to deal with any stressful surprises.

Sticking to a Budget:

Your budget is really going to determine the extent of your party festivities so pay careful attention to it.  The holiday season isn’t the time of year you want to break the bank, especially when you may have gifts still left to purchase.  Pick an amount of money you’re comfortable with spending and then buy what you can in bulk and also pay attention to discounted items, even if they seem damaged but you know you can take apart and make into something else.  Avoid having to prepare a lot of food – and therefore spend a lot on it – by ensuring your party is held in mid-afternoon, well away from lunch and dinner times.

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