5 Tips for Easy Holiday Entertaining

There is nothing better than hosting a fun and successful holiday party during this time of year. You have the joy of planning and then the thrill of witnessing the joy that the gathering brings to your guests.

WAIT!! You don't feel that way?

Does the idea of planning Holiday Entertaining send shivers down your spine? Don't worry, I have five tried and true ideas for hosting a successful holiday party!

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I've spent years hosting fun gatherings large and small and these are my go to tips for making the event fun for my guests while being easy on me…

This kind of goes with out saying… Having a good plan will ALWAYS make things run smoother. Take some time a month or so in advance and plan out your menu, the decor, the guest list, how to entertain your guest, even brain storm things that could possibly go wrong and come up with plans A,B and C.

Make a list of what things you can accomplish a month in advance, a week in advance, the day before and the day of. Try to plan for things that can be created in advance so that you don't have the added tasks on the day of the event. If it's something that needs to be done the day of, see if you can assign that item to one of your guests so that you keep your plate asfree as possible on the day of the party.

Invest is the proper tools for entertaining. You don't have to do that all at once, but for each gathering you have you can add to your party arsenal. Start with a good set of neutral serving plates and utensils. Keeping them in a neutral pallets means that you can use them for any occasion and then dress them up with items that go with your party theme. I have a good set of white platters that are perfect for entertaining.

You never seem to have enough oven space when entertaining so having a good counter top oven can help take care of the extra space needed. I am eying the Breville Smart Oven to add to my party planning treasure chest.

Make sure you have enough space in your refrigerator for all your party platters and such, if you know you need extra cooling options have a couple of coolers stocked with ice out of sight, ready for the overflow.

I'm one of those (possibly) odd people who like to read cook books from cover to cover. Sometimes you never know what gem you will find in those books. One of my favorite gems that I learned from a cookbook has nothing to do with a recipe or food at all. Ina Garten in herBarefoot Contessa Parties book, tells a story of a party that was turning into a dud. The gathering was lacking energy and she could tell everyone was counting down the minutes to when they could leave. She happened to have a connection with Paul Newman at the time and called in a big favor. She asked if he could run right over and stir the pot for her disaster of a party. Being a good friend, Paul ran right over in his racing uniform, walked right into the party. Without so much as a hello he walked up to a woman and kisses her right on her surprised lips!! He then turned, and walked right out of the house and went on his merry way. You can imagine the party was a dud no more!

Now, I know we don't have quick access to a hunk of a celebrity to break the ice, but we can put some thought and effort into ways to get everyone to mix and mingle. Play some silly games, make sure you have great music playing to add some energy to the room. Don't take on this task on your own. Enlist some help from a trusted friend to be the one in charge of breaking the ice. When I entertain, I am usually working on the food and little details, my husband is the one who gets out in the crowd to liven up the event and get everyone ready to mingle. We make a good pair.

Don't kill yourself trying to make the most amazing meal for your guests. Here is another tip I learned from Ina Garten. Have only one or two stars of the show with a good supporting cast. I have a few show stopping recipes that I like to save for special occasions like these, but I have a whole list of simple supporting cast members that help make a good party amazing!

Have a simple veggie platter, but make it interesting. For this gathering I used an eggplant as my dip bowl to have that added pop of color. Also, think out of the box or bowl for your serving accessories. I placed the crackers in a fun flower pot with a simple kitchen towel as an accent piece. Jars are all the rage now, use good ole' mason jars as a fun vessel for your olives or nuts.

Bottom line is… Keep it simple and you and your guest will have a fabulous time. In my book, simple (done well) is always stunning.

Ask for help, you will be surprised how much people really do what to be involved. Not only that, but people will be more invested into making your event a success.

Don't STRESS! Just roll with it and everyone will have a lovely time. The more stressed you are the more it shows and people will feed off of that negative energy. As long as you have prepared well, you've done all that you can do to make it a success, so sit back and enjoy the event!

Breville has released new, time saving products such as the Smart Oven, just in time for the holidays! Take the guess work our of holiday cooking with the Smart Oven, the oven that does the thinking for you. Check out their website for more information on this product and other great gift ideas.

And don't forget to reply below for two chances to win your choice of amazing Breville products either for yourself or as a gift to a loved one: YouBrew, Tea Maker and Smart Oven products ($250 ARV)

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Breville. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules