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10 Simple Tips for Stress-free Holiday Entertaining

Want to feel relaxed and cheery during the holidays? Then get a jump on your holiday organization now. Prepping for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s entertaining is a great way to get in the holiday spirit early. Even better, with all your chores done, you can spend more of the holidays eating, drinking, and merry-making with your family and guests. Here are ten easy tips to get you ready for holiday entertaining ahead of time so that your holiday season is stress-free!

 

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  • This place better shine like the top of the Chrysler building! 1 of 10
    This place better shine like the top of the Chrysler building!
    One of the best things you can do is clean your kitchen from top to bottom. If you do a thorough job now, you'll have more time to bake cookies with your kids, catch up with visiting friends, and make merry. Start with the obvious places: thoroughly clean your cabinets, counters, and floors. But don't stop there! Now is the time to wipe down the top of the fridge and dust out-of-the-way places. When you have 18 Thanksgiving dinner guests and have run out of room to put things, you'll be glad you did a good once-over.
    Image Credit: Misterweiss
  • Put the sparkle in your holiday tableware 2 of 10
    Put the sparkle in your holiday tableware
    While we're talking about the kitchen, it's also a great idea to wash any special dishes, flatware, or glassware. No one wants a dusty champagne glass, and this way you won't have to worry about it the day, or week, of. You'll also want to get out that special dancing Santa tablecloth and matching napkins to see if they need a wash, a trip to the dry cleaner, or just a good ironing.
    Image Credit: Rodolph
  • Get your house in order 3 of 10
    Get your house in order
    Next you'll want to clean the rest of the house. Do a thorough vacuum and dusting and make sure you hit the guest room. You wouldn't want your Grandma to have dust bunnies on her pillows! While you're at it, launder everything you can: sheets, towels, rugs, whatever. We are working you now, but you'll be so glad when you can enjoy the holidays knowing your chores are done.
    Image Credit: CatherineMunro
  • Sugar and spice and everything nice 4 of 10
    Sugar and spice and everything nice
    Some spices really make the holidays, and you don't want to find out at the last minute that you're all out. Stock up now on nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, sage, and bay leaves. Making cookies this year? Check your sprinkles, icing supplies, and vanilla extract. Also make sure to have plenty of basics on hand, like kosher salt and fresh pepper.
    
Image Credit: Judepics
  • Stock the cupboard 5 of 10
    Stock the cupboard
    Speaking of restocking, check your pantry, too. You want to make sure you have the things you need, not just for, say, Thanksgiving dinner, but also for your famous day-after turkey chili. Now is the time to buy cans of tomatoes, pumpkin, stock, sweetened condensed milk, or whatever other canned goods are vital to your special holiday recipes. You'll also need plenty of sugar — regular and brown — honey, and flour. Check your baking soda and baking powder, too. If they're not so fresh or have expired, toss them and buy some new, sure-fire leavening agents. Finally, while you're digging around in the pantry, get rid of anything you don't need (if you haven't eaten that seven-year-old jar of Aunt Mitzy's pickled eggs yet, are you really going to?).
    Image Credit: Elizabeth Stark
  • Everything in its place 6 of 10
    Everything in its place
    "Mise-en-place" is French for "putting [everything] in place" and, besides sounding cool, it's a great way to reduce your holiday cooking stress. One or two days before your big affair, do as much prep work as you can. Chop celery and carrots or peel and dice potatoes, pumpkins, and yams. Mince your onions and garlic. It will save you much stress when you're cooking the big meal. Also, make note of dishes that can be made ahead. Pie dough, squash puree, holiday casseroles, cranberry sauce, stock, and gravy are all great make-ahead dishes.
    Image Credit: Stephen Ausmus
  • Stock up on kitchen basics 7 of 10
    Stock up on kitchen basics
    With Thanksgiving leftovers, Christmas cookies, fruitcake, holiday parties, and New Year's potlucks, you're going to go through a lot of foil, food containers, parchment, plastic wrap, trash bags, leftover containers, soap, and sponges between now and January 1st. Make sure to have plenty of these items on hand.
    Image Credit: Pieria
  • Gather your merry-making supplies now 8 of 10
    Gather your merry-making supplies now
    You may not want the neighbors to see you unloading case after case of wine, but if you're planning to host Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, why not buy the wine for all three at once? Most wine stores offer discounts when you buy by the case (12 bottles), so planning for all three at once is a great way to save some money. This is also a fantastic time to beat the crowds and pick up any other stiff stuff you might need to make that famous, or should we say infamous, eggnog or apple cider.
    Image Credit: Szalony kucharz
  • Be prepared for things to get … festive 9 of 10
    Be prepared for things to get ... festive
    Speaking of booze, if your holiday party is a good one, you're going to have some spills. Stocking up on cleaning supplies like Wine-Away, seltzer, or your own go-to stain remover will help you enjoy your party knowing that neither your sofa nor your elf costume will be ruined.
    Image Credit: Loopstation
  • Make your holiday music playlist 10 of 10
    Make your holiday music playlist
    Whether it's an intimate dinner or a full-on holiday rager, music sets the tone for your party, but when the guests start arriving, DJ duties often fall by the wayside. Spend an evening at the computer putting together a playlist for your party. It's actually a lot of fun and allows you to have the right music for the mood at your holiday shindig. Plus, it's a great way to get in the holiday spirit!
    Image Credit: Elizabeth Stark

Check out 10 more ways to prep for the holidays!

Plus, find everything else you need in Babble’s Holiday Guide

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