The holidays, for some, is their favorite time of the year. For others, however, it can be very stressful. The joy of gathering together with family and friends is what makes the holidays special, but getting your home ready, baking completed, gifts purchased, holiday cards in the mail and being prepared to entertain is a lot of work.

Here are some tips that can help you survive the upcoming weekend, Christmas and right through New Year’s! Whether you are hosting a dinner party, Christmas brunch or New Year’s Eve bash, these will be useful for your holiday events or even entertaining throughout the year!

Tip #1: Make a game plan

Whether you will be having a theme, or simply making your family favorites, having a plan will make your life simpler. Put your menu together, print out your recipes, and review them so you are prepared and have no surprises. Prep anything you can ahead of time.

Be sure the bar is stocked with all the key ingredients for classic cocktails and stock up on wine, beer, soda, and juices. Lemons, limes, and oranges can be cut up ahead of time for the bar too. An organized bar will make the cocktail hour stress free.

You can never start too early. Get your shopping done several days in advance. Avoid the grocery stores during peak times like the weekends. Take advantage of the time-saving options many stores offer, like curbside pickup and home delivery.

Tip #2: Make things ahead of time

What from your menu can you make ahead of time? What can you prep in advance? With today’s custom kitchens and extra space, you have places to store prepped items. Cut up the veggies, peel and mash potatoes, prep brunch casseroles up to a couple days ahead.

Take advantage of double ovens, making any baked goods ahead of time. You will need that space for hot dishes being made the day of the event.

Along with prepping items ahead of time, get your refrigerator cleaned out and organized so you have plenty of room.

Tip #3: Ask for help

Save yourself the stress by sharing the workload. Engage your children and spouse by giving them a job. Ask for help and accept help when friends and family offer it. When guests inevitably ask you if they can bring anything, let them! Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks, especially when people can lend a hand in some way. College students make great bartenders, younger children can take coats at the door. You can also ask for extra help in the kitchen with prepping, cooking or setting the table. And when it comes to clean up, make sure to recruit help ahead of time so you’re not left cleaning everything up yourself!

One last thing: don’t forget to ask someone to take photos. Their job is to capture the moments of the dinner, the event or the celebration.

Tip #4: Figure out what you can make and what you can buy

There is no reason to make everything from scratch. Remember that spending quality time with family and friends during the holidays is what matters most. If you can buy certain items instead of making them, you should. Having your food catered is a wonderful option as well; then you can really focus on other aspects of getting set for entertaining.

Tip #5: Lay out your serving bowls and platters in advance

There is no bigger panic then not being able to find the gravy boat or the large platter right when you need it. By having everything out ahead of time, you will have it at hand. Place a sticky note on each serving dish to remind yourself what item is going on what serving piece, as this will really simplify your life when you are getting everything put out. Be sure to have enough serving utensils for your dishes as well.

Remember why you are entertaining during the holidays. You have a beautiful, custom home you want to share with your family and friends. You want to enjoy their company and celebrate the season. The more you prepare in advance, the easier this will be. Keep it simple and cheers to the most wonderful time of the year!

Happy holidays from everyone at Colby Construction.