1. Pick the ideal date.
Fridays and Saturdays book up fast with holiday fêtes and even office parties, so plan way ahead when you’re choosing what date to have your friends over. Sherri Foxman, CEO of Party411.com, suggests a Sunday afternoon get together instead.
2. Keep it simple.
It may sound, well, simple, but devising a complicated menu while simultaneously coordinating drinks, music and décor is pointless. Guests come to holiday gatherings to socialize; the food is secondary, so fresh veggies and dip, a cheese tray, hummus and pita triangles, and spiced olives are easy finger foods. Add some shrimp and cocktail sauce, elegant store-bought cookie trays, and even heat-in-the-oven mini-quiches and sliders (love you, Costco!) and you’re all set without the sweat.
3. Opt for wine and beer instead of a full bar.
Set up a self-serve area with glasses and decorative ice buckets, and forget about it. Says Palm Beach event planner extraordinaire Bruce Sutka, “They’ll drink what you give them.” If you’re set on the idea of a full bar, bring in a bartender to make your life easier.
4. Open up the house and go with the flow.
Here in South Florida, we have the good fortune of being able to celebrate indoors or out all year long — or just about. If you feel stressed out about your home being crammed full of bodies, open up the back doors and let your guests take in fresh air by the pool or garden.
5. If all else fails, hire a caterer or a party planner.
Most can work within any budget and theme you choose. Ann Trombino, of Hugh’s Catering in Oakland Park, says, “We’re a one-stop shop when it comes to events. We can make recommendations based on the customer’s needs and budget. That means DJs, environment set-up, and of course, the food.”