'Tis the season for get-togethers and while it's wonderful to gather friends and family in your home, a dinner party can be a lot of work before, during and after for the hostess. Here is how to plan a stress-free event – and enjoy it too!

  1. Make it a potluck. Plan the menu in advance and take on a main course meat yourself. Then, assign different course dishes to guests (appetizer, main vegetable, main bread, dessert) but give guests an opportunity to have some choice too.
  2. Make it a buffet. This is an efficient and fun way to serve a lot of people. Do make sure the buffet table is accessible from at least two sides – and scatter seating everywhere.
  3. Deep clean the house at least two weeks before the party.
  4. Hire MOLLY MAID before and/or after the party to help you clean the house.
  5. Prepare foods and decorate as much in advance as possible.
  6. Serve an easy make-ahead cocktail so that all you have to do is pour it into a glass with ice and frozen cranberries (rather than use a shaker and measuring for each drink).
  7. Rearrange furniture so it's easy to wander and talk to other guests.
  8. Rent dishes, cutlery and wine glasses so there are no dishes to do when the party is over.
  9. As guests arrive, keep food that needs to be kept warm at about 200 degrees F.
  10. Lighting and background music matter and set a holiday atmosphere. Use candles, low lights and Christmas decorations to create atmosphere – break out Snoopy's Christmas and all the other favourite holiday tunes.