Continuation of a workshop, “Entertaining with Elegance and Ease” presented by Gwen Brodd, wife of Jeff Brodd, and mother of four grown sons~
Prioritize the things that are most important to you and your family and organize your schedule around them. Choose activities that are meaningful and memorable for the whole family and let other things slide.
When our boys were growing up we hosted a neighborhood birthday party for Jesus. Neighbors from all religions as well as no religion came. I had them bring gifts to give our local home for unwed mothers. We “acted out” the Nativity Story. We lighted the Advent candles and told what each candle means. We read from Luke 2. Our desire was to bring the light of Jesus to the children in our neighborhood.
If family tradition dictates a big tree decorating party on the weekend before Christmas, this may be the thing to do while skipping some of the lesser events.
- Decorate early in the season. I love Fall and Thanksgiving and I decorate a lot for the season. Thanksgiving weekend we pick out our Christmas tree. We use to always do it as a family; all four sons in tow, but things have changed. Last year, it was just Jeff and me. I tried to keep a good attitude and not cry too much. I didn’t even want to get out of the car at the tree lot 😉
I decorate for Christmas during the weekend. I have a lot of decorations. Jeff would say too many.
In fact, I asked my family, “If I was not here (meaning, I am celebrating Christmas with Jesus) would you decorate my home?”
They all gave me a look and said “No, not to the extent that YOU decorate.”
My decorations are in bins labeled by room or location, such as kitchen, mantel, dining room, front porch, etc. It does not take me long at all to decorate. I like to have it done by December 1st so that I can sit and enjoy them the rest of the month.
These seven suggestions should help you in planning your holiday season to open up your calendar in December for a stress free season so that you cane entertain with ease.
Throwing a party for friends and family should be a joy, not a chore. By utilizing a style of entertaining that is informal, relaxed, and expressive, not only will your guests enjoy themselves, but you will as well.
- What is the date?
- How many guests will be there?
- What type of party will it be? (dinner, potluck, appetizer) The kind of party you want to have will determine the number of guests you will invite. You may only have 10 for a dinner party but 25 for an appetizer party.
Pick a date for the party and get it on the calendar this afternoon! Schedules fill up fast between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, so reserve your date early. Don’t forget about the week between Christmas and New Year’s when there’s nothing going on. (I will schedule our neighbors that we get together with every year –their son, Kirk was Kyle’s best friend during that week as well as my high school girlfriends that I have over.) They are very casual, low key dinners.
I actually will schedule several events a few days apart. I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out. Think about it. You only have to clean house once and as I empty the dishwasher, I set the table for the next event; don’t even bother putting them away. This method saves time and energy and makes it easy on me.
After you have planned the date of your party, the kind of party and the number of guests, you need to start preparing.
Send out invitations immediately. Snail mail is the best method for sending invitations. I know we are in the age of texting and FACEBOOK invitations. Invitations need to sent out 4-6 weeks in advance. If you must go with email invites, make sure you at least personalize them, by uploading your own photographs or images and cut and paste them into your message using a font that works well…. but make it easy on yourself.
2. Prepare Your Home
Do not wait till the week of your party to do DEEP cleaning…. do it next week and when it comes time for the party…just a quick dusting and vacuuming. Remove clutter. Make sure the powder room is clean. I am going to share a secret: Keep lights low, use lots of candles and put your ceiling fans on low to keep people from seeing the dust on the blades!
You don’t have to have a house that will pass the “white glove test” from your mother-in-law. A tidy –uncluttered house will LOOK clean. Remember….people are not coming to your home because of how your house looks or how good your food tastes…they are coming to be with YOU! They like the way you make them feel…at home and special. The truth is…most peoples homes are a mess, cluttered and untidy. They will just feel at home at yours!
3. Prepare Your Menu
Forget new recipes….now is NOT the time to experiment. All those cute and clever things you see on Pinterest or people’s FACEBOOK…wait till January and February to try them…in between your root canal and routine physical.
Prepare items that you have successfully made before that your family and friends enjoy. People want to help…it’s okay to have people bring part of your menu. If you are having a dinner party for 8-10 plan prepare the main entre yourself but have someone bring a potato or rice dish depending on your meat dish, someone else bring a vegetable, another bring, a salad and the last one bring dessert and rolls. It’s okay!
If you want to prepare the meal yourself keep the menu simple… a meat dish, starch, vegetable and rolls. I wouldn’t serve Beef Wellington or Crown Pork Roast if cooking is not your thing.
If you are having more of a party where the food will be finger food such as appetizers you can have guests bring a dish if they offer. If you want to provide the food then prepare a menu of hors d’ oeuvres. Even though it is the holiday season people still want to eat somewhat healthy.
I would offer about 7-10 different items for a typical party. Your menu should include vegetables, fruits, assorted cheeses, crackers, meats, nuts, and sweets.
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