Before you hyperventilate over less-than-perfectly folded napkins, stop and take a deep breath.

You want to hold a fun holiday get-together, but the idea of hosting fills you with misery instead of merriment. Before you start hyperventilating over whether napkins are perfectly folded, take a deep breath.

Here’s a little help from the experts for throwing a no-stress party this season.
Whether it’s a homemade Christmas dinner or a New Year’s Eve bash, the key to a stress-free party is planning. Trisha Steinbock of Best Event Rentals suggests talking to an experienced party planner. A seasoned pro can help you clarify the theme and style of your party, and then make sure you have all the elements you need to pull it off.

Local caterers Juliana Trujillo-Escobar and Juan Andres Rodriguez of Juli y Juan’s Kitchen say the key is making time to plan. “We strive to be stress-free people ourselves and to bring that joy of life to our clients’ events,” says Juliana. “Our number one goal is helping people enjoy the moment.”

 

FOOD

You’ll have more time to enjoy the moment if you leave the cooking to someone else. Opt for an elaborate multi-course dinner or just appetizers, snacks or desserts. Juliana and Juan specialize in providing delicious, healthy, fresh food made from scratch. “Good food has an amazing way of bringing people together,” says Juan. Food definitely makes a party, so come up with a menu that fits the occasion.
For dinner parties, opt for dishes that can be made ahead of time and assembled just before your event. If you’re not providing a full dinner, charcuterie boards are a very popular appetizer and feature an array of meats, cheeses, breads and olives. Dessert can be gourmet truffles or fancy cupcakes, or everyone’s favorite—the chocolate fountain. Steinbock recommends a chill-and-fill table where you can keep fruits cold and fresh for dipping. Many party planners offer popcorn makers, ice cream machines and cotton candy machines as well.

You’ll want to provide your guests with something to drink, of course.

Yes, there are the basics—bottled sodas, juices and water—but have you considered frozen margaritas or daiquiris? Rent a frozen drink machine or two for a festive addition to your get-together. Maybe you’d like a sparkling champagne fountain to ring in the New Year. For smaller parties, Steinbock recommends party tubs with stands to keep beverages at the edge of walkways but within easy reach.

 

FURNISHINGS

Consider the seating arrangement for your guests and provide enough seating for everyone. You can rent tables, chairs and linens that fit the food you’re serving and the mood you’re trying to set. For example, Best Event offers a rustic farm table with matching chairs for family dinners. You can also get convenient delivery, setup and pickup of any items you need. No need to wash the dishes, either. Just rinse them off, place them in the provided tubs, and Best Event will pick them up. Talk about easy.
You want your guests to be able to sit comfortably, but you should think about the flow of your partygoers and how they’ll move and interact within the space. Set up areas for mingling. For casual cocktail parties, tall round tables work well. If the weather permits, outdoor areas can be wonderful for entertaining. Rent a few patio heaters and a sound system, and take the party outside around a fountain or fire pit.

 

FUN

If you’re having a less formal party, add some games to the mix.

How about something different for Christmas, such as a kid’s movie night for visiting relatives? Best Event Rentals has a 12-by-12-foot inflatable movie screen that comes with a sound system and projector. You just need to provide the DVD player and the flick. And don’t forget the popcorn machine.
There are games for big kids, too. “Adults love the oversized Connect 4 game,” says Steinbock. Best Event also rents a giant Jenga game and a big version of the ever-popular Operation. Karaoke is always a blast for kids and adults alike. Or how about a selfie photo booth with different backgrounds? This fun twist on a photo booth means everyone can create a special memento from your party.

With so many options, ideas and themes, it’s easy to get creative with your party planning. Choose an element or two that will make your gathering memorable. Keep it simple, let others do the heavy lifting, and you’re guaranteed to have a stress-free party.

Resources

Best Event Rentals, www.besteventrentals.net
Juli y Juan’s Kitchen, www.juliyjuan.com