6 Last-Minute Tricks for a Stress-Free Christmas


1. Cheat on the Food
It may be easy to tell the difference between store-bought and homemade cookies, but what about the potatoes or the ham? Pick and choose which parts of the meal to labor over, then go ahead and cut corners elsewhere by buying from a local restaurant or grocery counter.

2. Randomize the Gifts
If you have a large group of family and friends, the prospect of buying individual gifts for everyone can be overwhelming. Opting for a "white elephant" gift exchange can relieve the gift-buying pressure and provide lighthearted entertainment for your guests, entirely free from expectations. And because this game involves both random present selection and trading, it usually works out that all the guests come away with something they enjoy.

3. Drink Tags and Assigned Seating
A DIY name tag makes your life easier in two ways, by serving as a drink marker as well as a dinner seating assignment. Simply jot down each guest's name on a piece of paper, use string to attach one name to each wineglass, and put one glass at each place setting. You can make a kid-friendly version with stickers on plastic cups.

4. Assign Helping Hands
Every good leader knows that delegating is important, so it's crucial that you don't try and do everything yourself. Have some job assignments in mind for helpful guests, then set them to work clearing tables or making sure everyone has a fresh drink.

5. Childproof Ahead of Time
If you are hosting a gathering with young children, do yourself a favor by removing any potentially risky items before the party starts. Beyond objects that could be safety hazards, think about items that could be easily broken or that are so attractive or popular that they could lead to squabbling among the children.

6. Manage Leftovers
Leftovers are one of the best parts of Christmas feasting, but as a host you don't want to be stuck with too much food. Put together some easy to-go containers with paper plates, cling wrap, and plastic bags. After dinner, enlist a few helpers to portion out leftovers equally and hand them to people as they leave. Everyone will end up with some food to-go, and you’ll have less to clean up at the end of the night.


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