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10 Ways to simplify party prep

Claire is an aspiring nutritionist (and soon to be culinary student) with a serious addiction to bacon, wine, goat cheese and online shopping. She is recently married to a social media guru who loves *almost* everything she conjures up. ...

Quick ways to make entertaining easier

If there's one thing we love at SheKnows, it's parties! There's nothing more fun than gathering with your loved ones over some great food and strong drinks. This year, make it easy on yourself and take the stress out of hosting a dinner party, book club or even Thanksgiving dinner.
woman setting up for a party

Quick ways to make entertaining easier

No one said hosting a party was easy, but it doesn't have to give you premature grays or an anxiety attack either! Learn how to throw a beautiful, stress-free party -- June Cleaver-style!

Do what you know

If you've never roasted a duck or prepared scallops, don't try to attempt them as the main course for your party. Stick to food and cocktails you know to ensure they turn out delicious. Also, don't attempt complex DIY touches -- like garlands or wreaths -- if you're not crafty.

Clean as you go

Avoid the hours of clean-up by cleaning as you go. We don't mean asking your guests to move so you can vacuum, but simply collect appetizer plates, do a few rounds of dishes and put food away during the party to save you time later.

Buy in bulk

To keep costs down, buy items such as plastic plates, utensils or napkins in bulk. Also, if you're serving a large crowd, buy your rolls, vegetables and snacks in bulk.

Set the table

If you're hosting a large dinner party, Christmas feast or Thanksgiving dinner, set your table the night before. This will give you more time the day of to attend to the food and account for things that arise last minute.

Prepare and chill food in advance

Ever been to a party where the host is glued to the kitchen making side dishes and basting a turkey? Don't be that girl -- spend time actually visiting with your guests by preparing most of your food ahead of time. Sides (like stuffing and soups) can be made and chilled up to three days before. In addition, roasts and main meat dishes can be made the day before. The only foods that should be prepared the day of are salads and vegetable dishes.

Stock the bar ahead of time

You know that awkward moment when your guests arrive and you realize you forgot the booze? Don't let this nightmare become your reality -- stock your bar a few days in advance. To save a bundle, buy your wine, beer and liquor (in some states) at Costco or Sam's Club.

Send out invites and collect RSVPs

It's hard to prepare a menu if you don't know how many people are coming. Save yourself the time and money by sending out invites a few weeks before and preparing food and buying drinks for that many.

Decorate ahead of time

Nothing adds stress (and premature wrinkles) quite like leaving everything to the last minute. Set up most of your decor (like lighting, festive wreaths or centerpieces) a day or so before the party. Leave only the fresh decorating (like flowers and produce) for the day of.

Ask for help

Don't be afraid to ask your guests for help if you need it. Need some assistance in the kitchen? Ask one of your guests (politely, of course) to pitch in. Most people will be happy to help you.

Arrange trays

Featuring a dessert bar, or a party with cheese or cookie trays? Arrange them a few days before your party and simply chill them in the fridge with saran wrap. On the day of the party, simply remove the wrap and set up!

More simple party tips

Holiday entertaining survival guide
Choose your dinner party
Party prep guide: What to make ahead

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