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With fetes on the books from now through the New Year, it’s easy to blend into the cheese-plated masses. The cure for the common holiday party, you ask? Ample refreshments, charming details and, most important, a happy hostess. Preparation makes perfect, so here are 15 tips to make yours the best damn shindig of 2016.

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1. Buy a case of cheap stemware from IKEA or Target (around $1 per glass) so that it’s no biggie when something inevitably breaks.

2. Ditto for mason jars (or other bulk-supply water glasses) at your local craft store. Leave the red party cups to the beer-pong table.

3. Instead of fussing with multiple liquors and mixers, plan a punch-bowl cocktail and spare everyone the decision-making stress.

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4. Splurge on a catered main course. You can handle a chic appetizer spread and easy side dishes on your own, but leave the heavy lifting (we’re looking at you, duck au poivre) to the pros.

5. Speaking of finger food, three words, people: oven-ready appetizers. Premade appetizers can be delicious and totally transformed to fancy with fresh garnishes.

6. And while you’re at it, set up multiple appetizer stations so people don’t congregate in the kitchen or create a blockade to the bathroom. 

7. Have a group game or holiday craft on reserve. Activities are always a good idea should the conversation slump...or turn to politics.


8. Look to little details: a sprig of rosemary placed atop a folded napkin, a cinnamon stick as cocktail swizzle, a length of baker’s twine wrapped around party favors. Any of these will earn you mega hostess cred with minimal effort.

9. Turn off the overhead lighting. Hang a string of twinklies, light some candles…anything to set a softer mood. Do this and you’ll barely have to decorate.

10. Rather than splurging on multiple floral arrangements, go the cost-friendly route and break one big bouquet into lots of little ones. We love using metallic barware (think mint julep cups or copper mugs) as petite vases.

11. Amplify your playlist with nothing more than your phone and a coffee mug.

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12. Fake a grand banquet by pushing tables together and covering them with simple white tablecloths for a seamless look.

13. Borrow chairs from the neighbors ahead of time. When you run short on seating, it will be a godsend to have some tucked away in the garage.

14. Turn your shower rod into a coat check (so your bedroom doesn’t turn into a messy pile of outerwear).

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15. Be direct when guests ask what they can bring: wine and cheese. Let’s be real—every party is a wine-and-cheese party, and the more the merrier. Or ice. Because you will definitely run out.

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