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Simplify And Be Merry At Your Next Holiday Gathering

12/14/2016 11:33 EST | Updated 12/14/2016 11:35 EST
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Big family with three children celebrating Christmas at home. Festive dinner at fireplace and Xmas tree. Parent and kids eating at fire place in decorated room. Child lighting advent wreath candle.

The days may be shorter and the weather a little colder, but with the holiday spirit upon us, I think we're entering one of the most wonderful seasons of the year. That said, holiday-induced stress can quickly outshine all of the excitement. With so much to do in such little time, the thought of holiday get-togethers themselves can be daunting, let alone the time it takes to prepare for all of these gatherings.

As someone who loves to entertain for my family and friends, I know just how tiring hosting can be -- but who says it has to be this complicated? It's time to get back to basics and remind ourselves of what we love most about get-togethers during the holidays and year-round: quality time with the ones we love! There are lots of simple hacks every people-gatherer can use this time of year to make entertaining totally fuss-free.

Forget the dishes

It can be really difficult to stay in the moment and enjoy yourself while you watch a mountain of dishes pile up in your sink. Ditch the stress and dreaded clean-up by using paper plates and cups. Today you can find tons of recyclable, sturdy options with beautiful designs that will liven up any coffee table. The best part? No washing necessary.

Don't stress when it comes to food

Between planning, running to the grocery store, waiting in long lines and cooking, you can easily waste hours on food prep just to end up spending your whole get-together behind the scenes in the kitchen. To save yourself some time and energy, use the foods you already have in your pantry to whip up quick, delicious crowd-pleasers. You can never go wrong with a simple charcuterie board or brie and cranberry scoops. They only take five minutes to pull together and your guests will obsess over them all night.

Keep décor simple

There's no need to stress over décor - simple is always better. Burlap makes a great table runner and elements from nature are a perfect addition to any tabletop. This time of year is bright and beautiful outside, so if you're looking to add some accents to your gathering, just look to your own backyard, literally!

Set it and forget it

A bit of extra upfront work before your guests arrive will pay off later in the evening. Prepare a large pitcher of your signature cocktail and big spread of snacks, then encourage your guests to help themselves. Having everything ready before your guests arrive will eliminate last-minute scrambling and help you enjoy yourself from the get-go.

Raise a toast to your guests

Your party would be nothing without your wonderful guests, so make sure to step away from your hosting duties to spend some quality time together. Put out a retro style Instamatic camera for a fun, vintage touch that allows guests to take photos home with them. Throw in a few simple props like mini party hats and oversized glasses, and let your guests' creativity take over. If you choose to go digital, you can post later as a great way to toast to the great time you had!

Most importantly remember the key to entertaining to be is a host or hostess whom expects to have a good time! Keep it carefree and fun... always.

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