Table settings, invitations, planning the menu, the entertainment, and the preparation are just some of the major tasks in planning an event during the holidays. Whether you are planning a Christmas party, a Hanukkah celebration, a Kwanza gathering, or a New Year’s celebration, holiday event planning can be extremely stressful. Holiday event planning should be fun, but often it can interfere with daily tasks such as picking the kids up from school, work obligations, household chores, and not to mention, it can put a dent in your wallet. Below are stress-free tips for planning a fun and affordable holiday event:

Single-use dishware works wonders

Although paper and plastic plates are not the best for the environment, especially when used daily, they work wonders for holiday events. Instead of having a pile of dishes to clean or worrying about broken glassware, festive holiday, disposable plates are the easiest cleanup. You can spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying yourself with your guests.  There are many single-use dishware items that are more environmentally friendly than others such as those made from recycled goods. When shopping for party dishware, it is also important to keep the well-being of our planet in mind. 

Festive décor goes a long way

Whether you are decorating a Christmas or winter wonderland themed setting, pick a theme, and go with it. Decorations, table settings, and lights can go a long way at a holiday event, and you can frequently find everything you need on sale, or even make your decorations. Fresh flowers, mistletoe, Christmas trees, garlands, wreaths, berries, and pinecones can all make a table look festive. Decorations should be a fun part of the holiday event planning process. 

Engage your guests

Encourage your guests to actively participate by dressing up in a holiday costume or wearing their favorite ugly Christmas sweater. Hand out holiday welcome bags to your guests when they arrive and plan fun activities such as holiday bingo, a raffle, or a white elephant gift exchange. Maybe have a table where guests can decorate holiday cookies or build gingerbread houses. Encourage activities that promote communication and fun so that everyone can mingle and interact with each other.

Send out e-vites

Sometimes hand-written cards can be stressful, so it is perfectly okay to email out electronic invitations. Individuals are able to RSVP much easier, as well. This not only saves you time but also makes things easier for your guests, but this is great for the environment!

Simple appetizers and desserts

You do not have to prepare a sit-down meal for every holiday party you host. You can purchase appetizers and desserts from the store and arrange them on festive plates, add garnish, and label any allergens to make it easier for your guests. If you choose to prepare something in your kitchen, make sure you plan to cook something that can easily be made in bulk, such as a stuffed chicken breast, chili, or a ham.

Alcohol-free eggnog

Alcohol is not required at holiday parties, especially when people are driving. Alcohol is expensive to purchase and can a lot of headaches for the host and the guests. Throw an alcohol-free party but provide festive drinks such as eggnog, spiced cider, and hot chocolate.

Don’t forget the holiday music

Almost everyone knows all of the classic Christmas tunes, so make a playlist of your favorite holiday songs.

Remember to enjoy yourself

As hosts, we often become so bogged down in the holiday event planning and making sure everyone is enjoying the party, that we often forget to sit back, socialize, and have a great time. Holiday event planning can be incredibly stressful and can leave us feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Make sure to spend time enjoying yourself at the party and ask for help if you feel overwhelmed with the planning process.

Kristen Fuller, M.D., is a clinical content writer and enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the cutting-edge world of mental health and addiction medicine. She is a family medicine physician and author, who also teaches and contributes to medicine board education. Her passion lies within educating the public on preventable diseases, including mental health disorders and the stigma associated with them. She is also an outdoor activist and spends most of her free time empowering other women to get outside into the backcountry.