1. PLAN IT OUT: Create a checklist that includes all of your holiday party planning tasks and update it as you complete each item on your list. Staying organized will help save on time and eliminate extra stress.
2. MAKE-AHEAD: Prepare as many dishes as you can in advance so that you can cut down on extra work on the day of the party. For those items that can't be made ahead, take advantage of slow-cookers to save on oven space.
3. SIMPLIFY THE BAR: Opt for a signature cocktail instead of stocking a full bar. Pre-make a holiday punch recipe that can easily be served in a snap. Have some bottles of wine on hand for those guests who are not hard liquor drinkers.
4. SET THE MOOD: Dim the lights, set your iPod on a playlist with songs of the season, and create easy centerpieces by placing ornaments in decorative glass bowls and vases. Tie festive bows around the centerpieces for an added touch.
5. GIVE YOURSELF TIME: Plan to finish setting up about 30-45 minutes prior to the start of the party so that you can give yourself some time to unwind from all of the hustling and bustling. Grab a drink, sit back, and give yourself a pat on the back planning a holiday party that is going to rock!