Holiday Party Planning Made Easy

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By Julia Sayers

It wouldn’t be the holidays without a packed calendar of holiday gatherings and parties. But when you’re hosting your own party, things can get a little stressful. For the past three years, I’ve helped to host a Christmas party for family and friends and have learned a few tips to save me time, stress, and money, that I hope you’ll find helpful, as well. 

Plan, Plan, Plan
The most important tip is to plan ahead. Figure out which foods you want to make, what dishes they need to be made in, and how long they need to cook for. When planning your menu, make sure to include meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. You don’t need multiple versions of each dish; just enough to make sure everyone has something they will like. Don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring a dish. This will take a lot of the stress off of you, and also ensure there is at least one thing each guest likes!

Work Ahead
In order to save time, make and freeze some dishes in advance. Just remember to transfer them to the fridge the day before the party to defrost. Take advantage of your crockpot, as well. Find a dip that you can just throw together in the crockpot, which will not only save room in the oven, but also keep the dip warm throughout the entire party.

Save Money
You can save money by looking to your kitchen and backyard for decoration inspiration. Arrange freshly picked greenery around the table with holly berries, oranges with cloves pressed into them, and winter flowers. You can also fill a decorative bowl with water, cranberries, and floating candles for an elegant centerpiece.

For inspiration on some dishes to make for your party, check out the December issue of Cooking with Paula Deen. We did a whole feature on healthier party food, so you can indulge without the guilt! You’ll find recipes for dips, crostinis, and other fun bite-size nibbles. You can get a sneak peek at some of the recipes here, or pick up a copy of the issue for the whole story!

Julia Sayers grew up with a love and appreciation for good food, instilled in her by her Italian family. She learned to cook from family recipes, passed down from her mother and grandmother. As she grew older, she decided to pursue a career in journalism to express her passion for food through writing. After working for newspapers, a travel magazine, a cookbook publisher, and even as a dolphin photographer in the Florida Keys, Julia came on board with Cooking with Paula Deen as the Associate Editor. She loves that she gets to work with food everyday, whether it be writing about it, tasting delicious goodies in the test kitchen, or overseeing photoshoots.

Julia Sayers grew up with a love and appreciation for good food, instilled in her by her Italian family. She learned to cook from family recipes, passed down from her mother and grandmother. As she grew older, she decided to pursue a career in journalism to express her passion for food through writing. After working for newspapers, a travel magazine, a cookbook publisher, and even as a dolphin photographer in the Florida Keys, Julia came on board with Cooking with Paula Deen as the Associate Editor. She loves that she gets to work with food everyday, whether it be writing about it, tasting delicious goodies in the test kitchen, or overseeing photoshoots.
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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm