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Do's and don'ts to get you through your hosting duties

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Scared of having a holiday party with everything else you have to do? Take this advice from those who throw festive gatherings every December.

1. Make a to-do list, or jot down a schedule of when you will do what.

2. Don't refuse any reasonable offer of additional food from guests.

3. Buy beverages several weeks in advance. Stockpile mineral water, sodas, wine, beer and whatever else you plan to serve so you're not lugging it the day of the party.

4. Go high and low. Mix your best vintage china and serving pieces with fun additions from Target and West Elm.

5. Set the table in advance and arrange the bar with bottles and glasses a few days before.

6. Stick to recipes you know. Most guests appreciate the consistency.

7. Save money on decorations by raiding the yards of friends and neighbors for greenery and berries. (One hostess calls this "alley gardening.")

8. If possible, have the party on a Sunday. That way, you get two days to prepare.

9. Take the day after the get-together off. Says Eileen Milner of Alexandria: "A recovery day is important. Get the house back in order, eat some leftovers, savor the house and tree decorations, and go to bed early."

-- J.K.

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