Holiday Entertaining Tips

I'm linking up with two of my favorite bloggers, Sarah and Victoria, for their "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" linkup! Today's topic is Holiday Entertaining Tips, which is being hosted by Catherine! 

I'm getting so excited to move into our new house not only to have more space, but also to be able to entertain! Entertaining / hosting is something that I've always loved -- probably because my mom is such a great hostess and I've learned from her over the years. We've hosted a few holidays in the past and below are some of my top holiday entertaining tips!

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1. Don't Make Everything
Not everything has to be homemade -- ask guests to bring an appetizer or dessert, utilize pre-made dips or breads from your local grocery. This will save you time and sanity.

2. Serve a Low-Maintenance Menu
There's nothing worse than trying to talk to a guest while mentally worrying about something in the oven. I like to get the cooked dishes done ahead of time and utilize the crockpot for keeping things (like taco meat) warm for guests. I also love serving snacky foods that are easy to replenish and don't require constant heat -- such a cheese trays, chips and guac, and a dessert platter.

3. Create a Cozy Atmosphere
I love to light candles, diffuse essential oils, utilize lamps instead of overhead lightning, and have a holiday playlist in the background. Setting the mood helps guests relax and have a great time.

4. Take Care of Yourself
A lot of times, if we're hosting a holiday, I like to wake up early and get a few things done, then hit the gym, shower and get ready, and then do the final touches. There's just something about a mental / physical break before having guests over that helps me so much! 

5. Say Yes to Help
It's so easy to say no to guests that offer to help with dishes / cleanup. However, do you really want to be scrubbing dishes at 11pm after the party? I sure don't. I always accept offers of help when it comes to cleanup -- many hands make light work! 

Do you have any holiday parties on the calendar?
What's your best advice for holiday entertaining?