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Tips for Holiday Hosting

Utilize these tips while party planning to host a holiday get-together that will keep your family, friends and neighbors talking all year long. 

Mind Your Manners

When it comes to etiquette, we all know that saying “please” and “thank you” is a given in any situation. But what about the little details that show consideration as party guests and hosts? Maralee McKee, an Orlando native and founder of MannersMentor.com, shares some etiquette tips to get you through the holiday season and beyond. 

Etiquette Tips for Hosts

1. Make every effort to prepare what you can in advance and delegate a helper who can assist with last-minute details and mid-party refills.

2. Greet each guest at the door.

3. Avoid being the king or queen of apologies during the party so guests aren’t put in an awkward position of having to reassure you.

4. Avoid cleaning during the party. 

5. Don’t open hostess gifts in front of other guests. Instead, thank the gift giver and let them know that you look forward to opening it after the party.

Etiquette Tips for Guests

1. Make every effort to prepare what you can in advance and delegate a helper who can assist with last-minute details and mid-party refills.

2. If you can’t make it, only share the reason for your absence if appropriate.

3. If you have two parties in the same evening, share that with your host when you respond and let them know what time you’re leaving.

4. Avoid being late to the party.

5. Don’t ask for a special menu but do share any food allergies when you RSVP so the host can alert you to skip any items containing the allergen.

Get Your Home Guest-Ready

Whether you’re hosting overnight guests or throwing a dinner party, you want your home to be sparkly clean. However, the rush of the holiday season may not allow for much time to prepare. Here are some tips for getting your home ready for entertaining from Jenny Joy of Ruby Red Cleaning.  

When There’s No Time

Make the time that you have count. De-clutter common areas, change the sheets in the guest bedroom, fluff pillows and light a scented candle. 

When You Have a Hard Time Finding the Time

Focus on what matters most. Hand-dust with a cloth and spray in the guest bedroom and bathroom, vacuum and mop the floors, put fresh sheets on the bed and place towels at the end of the bed. In the common living areas, do a quick dusting of surfaces, focusing on areas used most often and areas at eye level. Also, fluff and straighten the couch pillows and put out holiday greenery. 

When You Have Plenty of Time

In addition to the above tasks, clean high and low. Dust fans and light fixtures, wipe down blinds and windowsills, clean the baseboards and doors, and vacuum underneath the beds. 

Joy also offers ideas for staying guest-ready all the time. First, always stay stocked with a quality feather duster, extra sponges and extra cleaning cloths to make quick cleaning a breeze. Also, keeping extra towels and linens on hand makes it easy to prepare a guest room in no time, and having store-bought cookie dough in your refrigerator will ensure you’re ready to offer a sweet treat at a moment’s notice. Finally, incorporate small tasks into your daily routine, such as spending 10 minutes tidying up each morning and doing a quick sweep or running a dust mop along the floors every night.

Most importantly, don’t stress if your home isn’t as perfect as you would like it to be. After all, a stressed host makes for a stressed guest. 

“Your guests won’t notice the dust behind your TV. They’ll love your thoughtful extras, and they’ll remember the time they spent with you far more than any stray dust bunny under your couch,” she says. “Replace your temptation to talk about what you didn’t have time to do and remind yourself the nicest thing to hear is, ‘Come in, I’m so glad you’re here.’”

How to Decorate for Your Next Party

Andrea St. Onge and Cristina Lima of Lou and Pepper Party Shop are pros at presenting a pretty party space. Here, they provide tips for pulling out all the stops at your next get-together. 

For St. Onge and Lima, the party is in the details. That means communicating a theme with accents that tell the story of the occasion. 

“Our planning process always begins with small details as inspiration,” Lima says. “We take elements that highlight the theme, or just ones that we love, and create a bigger picture from there.” 

They believe that working with core details first helps to keep all the décor cohesive throughout the party. And it all starts with adding something fun at the entrance.

“It’s the first thing guests see, and that’s where the experience begins,” Lima says. 

Consider a balloon garland that can double as a photo spot. Be sure to include a variety of colors, sizes and shapes to keep it interesting and add dimension to the space. 

Once inside, designate a main focal point in a larger area of your home. This can be a bar setup or the buffet area where guests will gather to fill their plates or glasses over conversation. 

You will want to combine function with flair in this space. Start by laying out all the items that guests will need, such as glassware, silverware, plates and napkins, then fill it in with accents that tie in to your party’s theme. Add prepared food and beverage items right before the party begins. 

“Setting it all up in advance ensures you’re able to join the party without having to run around gathering ingredients,” Lima says. 

These ideas will help you have a memorable party while saving you time to spend with your guests. 

Build Your Own Grazing Table

This year, grazing tables bypass traditional charcuterie boards as party palate pleasers. While they resemble a charcuterie board, complete with a variety of cheeses and meats, other accompaniments provide plenty of snacks for your guests to enjoy.

A grazing table is easy (and fun) to set up. Simply place a piece of butcher paper on the table that you will be presenting the party snacks and start arranging your selection. Some grazing table presentations are flat, where all elements are at the same level, but consider adding some height by placing bowls of nuts and dip on a cake stand. 

The beauty of a grazing table is that you can take it in any direction that you like, but here are some ideas to get you started. 

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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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