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Whoever said “Hosting for the holidays is easy!” was totally lying. (Confession: We aren’t 100 percent sure anyone has ever said that, but just go with it.) But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s all “bah humbug.” Below, our five tips for making holiday entertaining a little easier on yourself.

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christmas stovetop potpourri

Forget Decor—It’s All About the Smell

From the moment your guests walk through the door, you want them to instantly feel like it’s the holidays and not just a regular Friday-night dinner party. Since scent is the first thing someone notices when they step into a room, fill your home with the warm, cinnamony smell of the holidays. But don’t waste time and money by going out and buying expensive candles—try our super-simple trick that works in 2.5 seconds. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about cleaning up any melted wax.

gourmet cheese platter
Twenty20

Serve A Lot (But Only a Few Key Foods)

Rather than trying to make a million different things that you’ve probably never made before, stick to what you know—and make a lot of it. A baked Brie and a caprese salad, perhaps? This way you won’t spend hours cooking up a ton of food that it turns out only Uncle Fred likes.

Sponsored keurig selects 1

Allow Guests to Have a Say

When you’re the hostess, you typically call the shots. But when it comes to dessert, let your guests weigh in. Ask everyone to bring their favorite sweets or set up an easy ice-cream bar so people can serve themselves. The same goes for coffee. Don’t futz with a big pot that you constantly need to refill. Instead, set out a Keurig® K-Select™ Coffee Maker, which features a Strong Button that allows guests to brew a more intense cup should they need a little pick-me-up. Provide a slew of pods so guests can choose their own flavors, like toasted hazelnut or pumpkin spice. And don’t forget the hot cocoa for the kiddos. 

chocolate peppermint icebox cookie

Start Prepping in Advance

Yes, you can start planning for this now if you’d like. We’re huge fans of icebox cookies for this. The dough can be stored in the freezer for up to three months, and the cookies are ready to bake whenever you want. Icebox treats are also great to have on hand in case you or your kids are invited to a last-minute dessert swap.

modern laundry room
jgareri/Getty Images

Lastly, Don’t Forget to Get a Little Help

A gravy stain here, a red wine spill there. We always rely on our friends and family for a little extra help, but sometimes that doesn’t cut it. Consider hiring an on-demand cleaning service to help put your house back in order. You can even schedule a day-of home cleaning if you forget to schedule one ahead of time. Go ahead, take that lavender bubble bath.

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