With a little planning, a little help and a lot of resolve, holiday entertaining doesn’t have to mean you’re too stressed out to enjoy your own party.
Sometimes, said Michelle Morton, a professional organizer and busy mom of three in Raleigh, N.C., it’s all about attitude.
“This is not the time to perfect being ‘perfect,’” she said. “This is all about surviving with a smile on your face and at the end of the day making sure you enjoy it as well. If it doesn’t make you happy, and you’re doing it out of obligation, then cross it off your list.”
If you’re a go for hosting, try these tips for maintaining your sanity:
CHOOSING THE MENU
Mary Giuliani, a high-end caterer and event planner in Manhattan, does 60 to 75 parties from Dec. 1 to Dec. 22 each year. “‘Mad Men’ and all the ’50s and ’60s retro stuff is chic again,” she said. “That means potlucks are cool. Plus, these days, everybody wants to be a celebrity chef.”
But, she cautions, know your crowd. “If you’re certain your guests won’t enjoy showing off their favorite casserole or the latest recipe they found online, don’t do it.”
Try a dessert party or serve mac-and-cheese with toppings instead, suggests Giuliani, with one signature drink as opposed to an open bar.
Chef Jan Birnbaum, co-owner of EPIC Roasthouse in San Francisco, suggests preparing food you’ve made at least several times.
“The best way to have fun with your guests and friends is to make the meal doable,” Birnbaum said. “Preparing a dish that you have never done before will guarantee a less than fun day for you.”
Morton has found success breaking to-do lists into categories and prioritizing each task, then syncing the tasks with her electronic calendar. “I feel much better when I write things out,” she said. “When I walk around with it all in my head I can’t think, I can’t focus, I can’t sleep.”