The holidays…a time for family, friends, and plenty of opportunities for things to not turn out quite right.
No worries. From decorating, to hosting, to just being a great guest, we offer our holiday secrets gathered over the years from Cincinnati’s best party planners.
Work with your décor—not against itMost people focus on their decorations first and then figure out where to put them. Designers say you’ll be more successful if you look at your room first and then decide what decorations the room needs. Look at how much space you have (do you need a tall, skinny tree for a small room or a big, fat tree to fill a great room?) and follow the color scheme of the room. When the tree and ornaments coordinate with your home’s interior style, the entire room becomes part of the decoration.
Hire a bartenderWhether you’re throwing the neighborhood Christmas party or a modest family gathering, this is a little luxury that takes a party to the next level. A good bartender can create original drinks and put together a themed menu designed just for your guests. Even if you’re hosting a gin-and-tonic kind of crowd, hiring a bartender will allow you to put down the cocktail shaker, pick up a drink of your own, and enjoy the party.
Streamline your gift-wrapping Presentation is everything. Even a small homemade treat takes on a new life with beautiful holiday packaging. Here's some tips to help streamline your gift wrapping process and keep your house from looking like a wrapping paper tornado came through it. • Pick a palette. Choose a color palette (which does NOT have to be red and green) and run with it. Purchase an assortment of solid papers, patterned papers, gift bags, tissue paper, ribbons, and gift tags. You'll be able to mix and match while ensuring that everything coordinates.• Stock up on supplies. This includes both wrapping materials and tools. Make sure you have a pair of scissors, plenty of tape, and a few markers that are designated wrapping supplies. TIP: Store everything in a long plastic storage bin somewhere easily accessible, and don't use these supplies for anything else. That way everything will be there when you need it.
Stick with small platters Nothing is less appetizing than a giant bowl of half-eaten artichoke dip. When entertaining, create small multiples of the dishes you’re serving. When you get down to the last unattractive spoonfuls, swoop in and bring out a fresh plate.
RSVP Really. This simple courtesy makes a world of difference to a host, and you’d be surprised how many people neglect it.
When in doubt, buy more ornamentsUnder-embellished trees usually go wrong at the ornament store, when you purchase half as many as you really need. For an ornament theme to have impact, it has to be abundant. If you see something you like, don’t buy six of them—buy 24.
Trick out your guest roomEasy hotel-style extras make a big impact. Boutique brands of soap, lotion, and shampoo; a one-cup coffee maker; extra tissues boxes and paper rolls so your guests don’t have to sheepishly come ask you for refills. These are simple little touches that make your overnight guests feel incredibly welcome.
Bring a giftMom’s advice is still true: Don’t come to a party empty-handed. Wine and chocolates are always good, but this is also a great time to be creative. Gourmet seasoning blends, European hot cocoa mixes, elaborately iced cookies—these indulgences are things people often don't splurge on for themselves.
Stock your holiday pantryThe excitement of the season includes last-minute get-togethers. Be ready with these essentials:
• Two nice bottles of wine to serve—one red and one white, each stored at the proper serving temperature• Easy appetizers—a box of elegant crackers, a block of gourmet cheese, a quick dip mix, and some frozen hors d’oeuvres• A few pre-wrapped gifts (Godiva truffles, for example, or a gift card to a favorite bookstore)—you never know when someone unexpected will drop over with a gift for you• Hostess gifts—have them ready so you’re not scrambling when the invitations arrive
Decorate with dessert Displaying festive homemade baked goods at your holiday party—sugar cookie cutouts, etc.—serves a dual purpose as both holiday décor and tasty treats.
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