If you've ever thrown a holiday party, you know it can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be.

Barbara Lazaroff – wife of Chef Wolfgang Puck – has hosted all kinds of events.  She says a great party starts with you.

First comes the décor.

“You have beautiful things you have collected over the years, and use them on your table,” Lazaroff explained.

You can fill up vases with your favorite ornaments and use wrapping paper and ribbons to dress up your table setting. Lazaroff’s collection of ceramic shoes become soup bowls during the holidays.

Next is the food. Try giving simple favorites holiday flair: a cheese platter can become a Christmas tree, popcorn turns festive, donuts are transformed to snowmen, and the classic pigs in a blanket can be arranged like a wreath. For drinks, plan three bottles of wine for every four people.

To make a party memorable, have everyone write a letter with a wish for the coming year. Place in a sealed envelope and mail them to your guests with next year’s invites.

And don’t forget about budget. On average, 18 to 34-year-olds spend $310 on a holiday party, while those 55 and older spend about $780.

The last tip: try not to stress!

“Don’t be intimidated; after all, it’s your friends!” Lazaroff said.

Here’s another good tip: don’t attempt top-to-bottom housecleaning before your party. Focus on the rooms that guests will be in most and close the doors to others. But make sure you give special attention to your bathroom, as that’s the one room guests will examine and judge the cleanliness of your house by.

Additional Information:

It’s now a staple of the festive season: the holiday party.  Whether it’s an office holiday party, or a tacky holiday sweater party, the holidays are a time for getting together with family and friends to celebrate.  But, planning and hosting a holiday party can be stressful.  Here are some ways you can avoid the stress, and just enjoy the party.

  • Make and utilize lists: Being organized is a sure-fire way to cut down on stress.  Writing down your lists early and checking things off as they get done will make things easier as you get closer to the party day.  Also, using your guests to help you out by giving them a list of tasks can make them feel more involved and invested in the party.
  • Buy in bulk: Stocking up on little things can ease the worry of not having enough food for your guests.  Buying crackers, cookies, and nuts in bulk will not only save you money, but will save you time in preparing foods and can help ease your stress.  Having enough drinks, especially things like soda and coffee, is important as well.
  • Make guests comfortable: If you have too many guests to seat at a table for dinner, serving a buffet is a better option.  Just be sure to make both sides of the table available to guests, so lines don’t form and the food is easier to get to.
  • Use your own mix of music: Making your own compilation CD’s are easy, and you get to listen to only the music you like.  But make sure to keep the music low enough so people can hear each other, as conversation is what can make a good party.  Also, during dinner try to avoid music with lyrics, as it can compete with the noise from a dinner table.
  • Consider an open house: If you have too many guests to house at once, consider having an open house party where guests can drop by at any time during the day.  Just make sure you have food which can easily last all day long.

(Source:hgtv.com/entertaining/10-secrets-to-hosting-a-stress-free-holiday-party/pictures/index.html)