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11 Tips to get the most out of family holiday parties

Megan is a former divorce attorney turned SAHM to twin boys. She's written for The Stir, Scary Mommy,, Mommyish and Bustle.

Easy ways to make holiday hosting more enjoyable

Family holiday parties are a great time to catch up with the ones you love. While party planning can be stressful, there are simple things you can do to minimize your time in the kitchen and maximize family time.

Getting all of your relatives together for a holiday is no easy feat, and neither is pulling off a fabulous holiday party. These simple tips will help you stress less and focus on the family fun.

More: Tips for pulling off a flawless holiday party

1. Do decor your way

If you truly love crafting, feel free to go all out with fancy centerpieces and place cards. But if glue guns make you nervous, stay within your comfort zone. At the end of the day, all people really need is a napkin and a set of utensils.

2. Plan ahead

Write out a list of what you need to prepare and a timeline for getting it all cooked and on the table. Having a game plan will prevent a meltdown mid-cooking and let you know when you have a few minutes to grab a drink and chat with your favorite aunt.

3. Serve snacks

Different people have different metabolisms and little kids can run on a very tight meal schedule. Having nibbles set out for everyone both before and after the main meal will help keep tummies happy and prevent you from having to rummage up snacks.

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4. Plan activities

Even the closest families fight now and then. Bring out a board game or form teams to play charades as a way to keep the interaction going between everyone without the risk of an argument over a sticky subject like politics or sports.

5. Consider logistics

Before your family arrives, think about things like parking arrangements, child-proofing to keep young guests safe and whether you have enough seating for everyone. Troubleshooting these issues ahead of time will allow you to sit back and relax once everyone arrives.

6. Prevent awkward requests

You may be kin, but that doesn't mean your niece is comfortable asking you for a spare tampon. The same goes for your uncle and his need for an antacid. Consider stocking the bathroom with items that your guests might need but may be too shy to ask for outright — and don't forget an extra roll of toilet paper.

7. Deal with leftovers right away

Not only will sorting out the leftovers right after the meal is over prevent foodborne illness, it will allow you to enjoy your time with your guests without knowing that a pile of dishes awaits you. Have a stack of plastic containers and labels nearby so everyone can portion out leftovers to take with them when they leave.

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8. Keep germs off the guest list

Cooler temperatures mean lots of viruses going around. Stop your family from spreading germs by having plenty of hand soap, tissues and antibacterial wipes on hand, and encourage everyone to scrub up before coming to the table.

9. Capture memories

A family holiday party is a great time to put down the smartphone and connect in real time, but if used sparingly, technology can enhance the family fun. You can share old family photos or videos for everyone to reminisce over. And take advantage of having everyone together by getting some group photos, or perhaps a multigenerational selfie.

10. Start new traditions

It's wonderful to honor the way your family has always done things in the past, but don't be afraid to shake things up. A new twist on the family's favorite side dish or suggesting a group stroll outside after dinner instead of watching a movie could lead to a new tradition you'll all look forward to.

11. Don't sweat the small stuff

No matter how much you plan, things can and will go awry. As long as you remember that it's time together as a family that's what really matters, your family holiday party is sure to be a success.

This post was brought to you by Marie Callender's.

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