Five quick tips to make your holiday party (almost) effortless- Guest post by Amanda Kimball

Most of us are giving some kind of get together this holiday season. With just a little planning and creativity you can throw a fun party that your guests will enjoy.

1. First Things First: Make A To-Do List. A list will help you stay on track and minimize the last minute crazies – we’ve all been there! Color code your list to make it easy to scan over quickly. Use one color for the menu, another for tableware, napkins, and serving platters, one for any creative projects you want to incorporate and lastly, a color for all the little clean up tasks in the house.

2. Send Out The Invites!
You don’t need to buy a pre-printed invitation, make it easy by finding a pretty card you like and writing in the details yourself. Keep the message simple, a “You’re Invited” will work! Have your guests RSVP via email, just make sure to add your cell or home number somewhere on the card in case someone needs to reach you the day of the party.

3. Have fun setting the mood with decorative details.
The Lighting. The easiest way to set a mood for your party is with candles, whether flame lit or battery powered. Battery powered candles are a bit more flexible and can be tucked anywhere around your house. Set them in wicker baskets in the corner of the room and the light will make a beautiful shadow pattern on the surrounding walls.
Or, buy a roll of pretty wrapping paper, cut it to size and wrap it around glass candle containers using double stick tape or scrapbook adhesive. You can use the rest of the paper on your dining table, read on to find out how!

4. The Table: Make your table stand out by using a length of special wrapping paper as a runner down the center of your table. If you’re hosting a sit down gathering, you can make paper dinner plate chargers. Simply cut circles out of the paper, fringe the edges and you’re all set! It’s easy to make napkins look extra special just by tying them with a bit of velvet or satin ribbon. You can even cut a bit of greenery (those evergreens in your yard will do the trick) or tie a small ornament right on top. Don’t forget a table gift for each guest. A pack of notecards, small boxes of chocolates or macaroons, would make the perfect special treat.

5. The Sound: A background playlist really sets the tone for the party. Whether you’re having a formal dinner, cocktails and crudités, or something in between, there’s a playlist for that! Several apps including Pandora and Spotify offer preset playlists and “stations’ that you can access for free by setting up a user account. Of course you can always connect your iPhone to a wireless speaker and play songs right from your library.

6. Yes, we’re throwing in one more! A few minutes before your guests arrive, light your candles, start your playlist, sit down with a drink and savor the beautiful setting you’ve created for your guests!

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