If you’re bringing in Christmas or New Year with a large dinner for friends and family, you’re probably feeling like a bundle of nerves. Here’s how you could throw a well-orchestrated do, minus the anxiety.

1. Start Planning
Don’t underestimate the power of planning ahead. The more you do before the Big Day, the more time you’ll have to enjoy on the day itself. To make things easier, create three lists—guests, menu, and shopping. Refer to our handy guide, if you need more help with list-making. Invite your guests at least three weeks prior to the party. First, call and invite them, then follow up with a text reminder. If your party has a theme, plan your menu and decorations accordingly. Don’t leave your outfit choice for the last minute.

2. What’s Cooking?
The menu must have recipes that you’re confident about cooking, and that are proven crowd-pleasers, of course. Build your menu around your main dish. If your main is complicated, let the appetizers be simple and easy to assemble. Finally, don’t forget to add beverages to the menu, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. And buy lots of ice on the day of the party.

3. Be A Smart Shopper
Once you’ve decided on your menu, check the pantry for the items you already have. Also, make sure you have the equipment to cook all the dishes. Borrowing pots and pans is a good idea. Crockery comes next: count the plates and platters, serving utensils, glasses and silverware you will need. Arrange for cocktail and dinner napkins, and tablecloths. If you’re short, call your local party-rental place and reserve what you need before they run out.

4. Don’t Cook Everything On The Big Day
On examining your menu, you will find that a lot of items can be prepared ahead of time, only to be frozen and reheated when required. Instead of cutting and cleaning vegetables, get pre-cut, packaged ones from the supermarket. Do the same thing with your meats and cheese. The idea is to minimize the effort you put in, so you don’t exhaust yourself before the party even begins.

5. Make Serving Easy
Unless you have an army of waiters to do the job, self-service is the way to go. A buffet-style arrangement works best in case of a smaller party, so guests can pick what they want to eat and avoid wastage. However, for a bigger party, it’s best to set up several food areas so that everyone doesn’t swarm around the same spot. Whatever you do, avoid using your kitchen as a serving area. It will get far too crowded for you to be able to rearrange and replenish the meals.

6. Enjoy Yourself
Don’t break a sweat if you realize you’ve done something wrong. Your guests probably won’t even notice that you forgot to put out the napkin rings. Most importantly, don’t spend all your time in the kitchen. After all, you threw the party to have fun with your guests.

Read More:
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5 Ways To Celebrate Christmas On A Budget
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