Just reading the words, “holiday entertaining” makes some people start to sweat.  

Whether you’re a pro or struggling to get it together to host a small party, here are…

7 Tips for Stress Free Holiday Entertaining


7 Tips for Stress Free Holiday Entertaining


One ::  The gathering is not about YOU… it’s about your guests.

Whether you’ve been entertaining for years or you’ve been trying for years to get enough gumption to invite friends to your home…remember the party is not about you.  It’s not about how good your cooking is or isn’t.  It’s not about how beautiful your home is or isn’t.  It’s not about the size of your home, how old your furniture is, or that pet stain you can’t get off the carpet.  It’s not about what you’ll be wearing.  It’s just not about YOU!!

It’s about gathering people together to have fun, to develop friendships, to offer a place of safety, a place of peace, and to break bread together.   People come with all kinds of baggage.  Your job as a host is to think about your guests, their comfort, and most of all to listen, care, and offer true hospitality.


Crystal and candlelight and 7 Tips for Stress Free Holiday Entertaining


Two ::  When you invite your guests… let them know what to expect.

Tell your guests what time to come.  If you’re planning drinks and appetizers for an hour or more before dinner, let them know in advance.  I hate breaking my neck to get somewhere only to find out I could have taken the time to freshen up after work.  All wiggle room for your guests, too.  The holidays are busy and often the weather is unpredictable.

Let them know how to dress.  Seriously, nothing is more uncomfortable for some people than arriving to a party over or under dressed.

Let your guests know you’re planning to serve food and when they can expect to eat.   Be sure to say, “Come at 8 o’clock for appetizers and desserts.”  Or invite them to come at 7 o’clock and let them know you’re planning appetizers, but dinner will be at  8 o’clock.  It makes a difference.  One year we were invited to a couple’s home at 6 p.m.  Thinking that was the dinner hour, we didn’t eat before we came, directly from work.  At 8:30 we were served a gooey apple dessert.  And yes I remember many years later as that was 8 hours after I had an apple slices and cheese and crackers for my lunch.  Wondering all night when we were going to eat did not make for a pleasant evening.

Don’t hesitate to invite your guests to bring something, if they wish.  Tell them you’re serving lasagna (or whatever is your dish)  and ask if they would like to bring dessert, salad, bread, etc.  Don’t pressure them, though.  Listen for cues.   Finish your menu around what your guests are bringing.  It’s expensive to serve food to a crowd and most people, if they’re able, love to bring something.


New Year's Party Table and 7 Tips for Stress Free Holiday Entertaining


Three :: Have beverages available for guests when they arrive.

When guests arrive, it’s good to have a punch bowl and a carafe of water or other beverages available.  Make it self-serve.  It gives people something to do initially and it’s an easy way for them to mingle.  Many people feel more secure holding onto a glass or cup.


Four :: Make introductions 

If all your guests don’t know each other, once everyone has arrived, make introductions.  Briefly, tell how you came to know Chloe or Sam.  And then ask each guest to share their favorite food, sport, band, author… etc.  If you’re creative, come up with another way to help your guests have fun and get to know more about each other.


Candlelight Centerpiece and 7 Tips for Stress Free Holiday Entertaining


Five :: Prepare ahead, so you’re not spending all your time in the kitchen.

It might require a trip to the deli, or cooking ahead of time, but be conscious of spending time in the kitchen when you need to be spending time with your guests.  I can be so guilty of finishing the meal in the kitchen and leave my husband to do all the chatting with everyone.   I read about a very wealthy and famous woman who could have had her meals catered, but instead chose to cook for her dinner parties.  She cooked the day ahead and only had to warm her food for her dinner party.  She said that the biggest reason was because food tastes better the next day.   Whatever the reason… cut yourself some slack so that you can enjoy your guests.  The biggest reason they come to your home is because they want to spend time with you. 


Six :: Keep it simple.

Repeat the phrase… Keep it simple.  First I should say that I need to hear those words myself.  In this Pinterest world we live, it’s so easy to obsess over our appetizers, our tablescapes, our buffets, and our menus.  I am sure that some of your friends will appreciate your efforts.  But, nobody appreciates a stressed-out hostess.  Do what makes your heart sing and no more.  If you love setting a pretty table.  Do that.  If you love making amazing appetizers.  Do that.  But, don’t try to do it all.


Candlelight and 7 Tips for Easy Holiday Entertaining


Seven :: Don’t worry about the dishes.

If you’re serving food, get one or two large sturdy baskets that can be slopped on, and use those like bus-boy baskets.  Collect or have your guests deposit their dirty dishes in those baskets.  That will keep your counters clear and clean and nice for serving desserts after dinner.  Again, have a basket ready for dessert dishes and coffee cups, etc.  Pick up the baskets of dirty dishes and place them out-of-the-way in your mud room, laundry closet, etc.  After your guests have left, then you can start the cleaning up task.  Remember… the party is about your guests… not your dishes.  Sure a little food will get dried on.  It’s nothing a short soak in the sink won’t take care of.  And with the dirty  dishes out of sight, your guests won’t even be thinking that they should help you in the kitchen.   If someone wants to stay after the party is over to clean up… let them.  Unless you plan to tackle the kitchen in the morning, which is just fine.  I promise the party police won’t be over to check.


Hopefully my 7 Tips for Easy Holiday Entertaining will help a little to reduce your stress.

I have “one” more thought to add…

Choose to have a good attitude.  Choose to bless your guests.  Choose to have fun.

The success or failure of a gathering mostly happens in our minds before a single guest steps into our homes.

For more holiday planning tips, visit Blue Mountain.

BlueMountain.com also has you covered when it comes to Christmas cards.  It’s getting late, instead of sending your usual snail mail greetings, send all your favorite people e-cards this year.  They have an extraordinary selection waiting for you here.  Get a membership and be prepared for every occasion.  How’s that for reducing a little bit more stress?

The wonderful folks at Blue Mountain, want to help make one An Extraordinary Day reader’s holiday celebrations just a little bit brighter with a $250 Visa Gift Card!!!  Yay YOU!!!


7 Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining AND a $250 Visa Gift Card Giveaway at AnExtraordinaryDay.net
$250 Visa Gift Card Giveaway from BlueMountain.com

Wishing you a blessed and joyous Christmas!


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  1. Kelly D says

    A $250 visa gift card would make the holidays brighter because I would buy extra gifts for my family.

  2. Linda F. says

    The $250 gift card would make my holidays brighter because I can use it to pay off a few bills that would mean less stress for my family and a happier new year.

  3. Auntiepatch says

    $250.00 more gifts for my family and friends! Thanks!

  4. Mami2jcn says

    We are buying a new house and this would really help with all the house expenses! Thank you!

  5. Lucy Beliveau says

    Hi Diane! You are shinning your colors again!! What an incredible giveaway you have! $250.00 is a huge amount of dollars. I enjoyed Blur Mountain and would like to follow them but am having a hard time finding their email subscription tag.. Ill check again! You are way too generous!! Lucy!

  6. Pat Walker Pinkston says

    I could buy more Christmas presents, especially for my husband of 42 years.

  7. Pat Walker Pinkston says

    The link for Blue Mountain in the Rafflecopter doesn’t work. When you go to their blog, there is no place to sign up to get emails. The only thing there is paid subscriptions to their services.

  8. Elle says

    Winning the $250 would be amazing. I would use it for everyday living expenses like food and gas. Thank you.

  9. Katie. N. says

    Thank you for doing this giveaway! I’d use the $250 to create a laundry area in my garage. Right now its just a washer and dryer.

  10. Debby says

    Thanks for a great give away! I would use it for gifts.

  11. Elena says

    This gift card would make my holidays brighter because I would buy more gifts for my family and friends.

  12. Amy Orvin says

    Wow! That card would help make my holidays brighter because I would have enough money to buy my neighbors presents, too. I’d like to get my mom a few more small things as well. Merry Christmas!

  13. Awesome giveaway. Thanks! To you and Blue Mt. To win sure would help with every day expenses.

  14. HS says

    This will be very helpful for our holiday travel expenses.

  15. Deb Jackson says

    It would allow me to purchase a great gifts for the kiddos.

  16. Great party tips, Diane! The gift card would help buy a badly needed new chair for the living room.

  17. Cindy says

    I hope I win!!!

  18. Tammy Churchill says

    In keeping with my intentional to be more intentional about thinking of others before myself, I would use that $250 card to buy gently used winter wear for our Street Ministry we support in Detroit, Mi. Everyday, EVERYDAY, Brother Kyle Joe Hicks takes food and winter goods out into the streets to the homeless. He is the face of Christ to them and there is never enough resources to go around as he distributes. We are blessed to be a blessing, so I would want to use the blessing of winning to reach out to the least among us.

  19. $250 would really help us provide a spectacular holiday meal for many people!

  20. Malia says

    I would donate the money to the Winter Wishes Program at my child’s school. They buy coats, school supplies and Xmas gifts for kids at the school who’s families need a little help.

  21. Such wonderful reminders, Diane. The gift card would help with Holiday costs and we have family coming in from out of town to stay for a week so I would probably use it for groceries. 🙂

  22. Janet Johnson says

    Thanks for the opportunity to win. I love your Facebook and your website, I enjoy them and the pictures very much.

  23. Janet Olson says

    A Blessed Christmas to you as well, Diane and a blessed New Year with a new job for hubs.

  24. Rosie says

    It would be great to have a holiday dinner and invite more people, and make lots of food, enough for ppl to take home, too. Make sure to invite people who are lonely and don’t have a family to be with over the holiday.

  25. i would love to get my husband something extra special!

  26. Mel says

    Wow….awesome photos. And a wonderful set of reminders. I especially needed reminded that it’s not about me!…..and to put my energies into doing what I do well. LOL..of course I wanna do it ALL well since it’s about ME! I’ll try to just breathe, focus on my attitude and leave the cooking up to he-who-cooks-awesomely!

  27. Ashley Tucker says

    This would help me be able to get my husband something nice for Christmas.

  28. Susan Christy says

    I would be able to buy gifts for EVERYONE.

  29. Sharon Elsberry says

    Merry Christmas. Thank you for a chance to win $250…amazing. Have a Blessed holiday with your family & friends. May you feel more love, share more laughter and feel more joy than ever before!!

  30. janet says

    Great giveaway, and what a blessing it would be to win! I really enjoy visiting your blog!

  31. Emily Smith says

    If I were to win this gift card I would use it to take my family on a little road trip during our boys winter vacation from school. Stay in a hotel out of town for a couple days. They would love it!

  32. Thanks so much for offering this giveaway.

  33. Annette says

    I’d use the gift card to purchase a much-needed vacuum cleaner.

  34. Kristen says

    I’d love to treat myself and my best friend to a weekend road trip away after all the craziness of the holidays is over!

  35. Kim Henrichs says

    I would be able to buy a nice meal for New Years!!

  36. Dawn Monroe says

    Extra money always makes things less stressful, lol. I would buy my son a new comforter set and then after the holidays I would escape for a weekend road trip with my husband. Maybe rent a cabin or something.

  37. LAMusing says

    It would make the holidays brighter because I could buy new tires so it’s safe to drive to visit friends!

  38. Kathy H says

    It’s time to register my car, right at the wrong time! $250 would go a long way toward helping out.

  39. I would use the money to buy tickets for Cirque de Soleil for our family. Thanks for the chance.
    Merry Christmas.

  40. Norma says

    This would make the holidays brighter by reducing the stress of paying bills!

  41. Jan A. says

    I’m already super blessed to have a warm home, food in the cupboard, and the love of family! Merry Christmas, Everyone!

  42. Auntiepatch says

    Airline ticket to bring my son home.

  43. Barb @ A Life in Balance says

    Thank you for posting to Motivation Monday!

  44. Darn I missed the post about the drawing but your advise is so spot on about entertaining. Thanks for sharing this and I am going to reread before my big party next year. With age things seem to relax a little but still I have a long way to go. I get invited occasionally to a clients home for dinner, they are lucky to have a prep kitchen so you never smell cooking smells or see a dirty dish, but she serves a 7 course homemade Italian meal. She is 72, I am in awe.


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