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Friends Who Fete: How to Throw a Stress-Free Holiday Party

November 27, 2017
How to throw a stress-free holiday party that can come together in an afternoon with a full menu, drinks, and decorating ideas for a last-minute party!

The wonderful thing about the holidays is getting together with friends and family for Christmas dinner, a tamalada, Hanukkah, or my personal favorite–no reason at all. The holiday season allows us to gather at the drop of a hat, simply because. The downside of all this merry-making is it can be stressful if you find yourself with a houseful of guests and an empty fridge. But it doesn’t have to be that way, the Friends Who Fete crew are here to help!

How to throw a stress-free holiday party that can come together in an afternoon with a full menu, drinks, and decorating ideas for a last-minute party!

As we do every so often, Meg from This Mess Is Ours, Aida from Salt and Wind and I gather together to throw a party, document every part of it, and share it with you so you can do the same thing with your friends! This time around we were also lucky enough to have Dennise from Le Petit Eats join us and we wanted to give you the tools you need to throw an elegant, but easy, party that can come together in an afternoon with the help of some store-bought ingredients, a few simple florals, and some items we’re pretty sure you already have in your pantry. We wanted to show you how to throw a stress-free holiday party.

Setting The Mood

Chances are you already have your Christmas tree lit and decorated and maybe a wreath or garland to brighten up the house, so you really need little more to make your place party ready. We picked up some greenery from the grocery store and placed a few flameless pillar candles on the table and bar to set the mood (check out how Meg created a festive holiday table centerpiece). A few strands of battery-powered string lights give the party a nice glow and look beautiful tucked inside mason jars or other containers.

How to throw a stress-free holiday party that can come together in an afternoon with a full menu, drinks, and decorating ideas for a last-minute party!

The Bar

If you have the space, a bar cart or separate table away from the kitchen or food is ideal. This spreads everyone out and gets your guests mixing their own drinks. You know having a signature cocktail for the evening makes your life easier, this Cranberry Dark and Stormy that Meg whipped up is so good it will soon become your signature cocktail of the holiday season.

How to throw a stress-free holiday party that can come together in an afternoon with a full menu, drinks, and decorating ideas for a last-minute party!

It is also nice to offer a non-alcoholic drink and we teamed up with Torani Syrup to create a Handcrafted Soda Bar that can go either way. With all their holiday-themed syrup flavors the options are virtually endless. Aida created an Eggnog Italian Soda, using the Torani Italian Eggnog Syrup and a Spiced Cranberry Cinnamon Italian Soda, using the Torani Cinnamon Syrup, that are delicious with or without alcohol.

How to throw a stress-free holiday party that can come together in an afternoon with a full menu, drinks, and decorating ideas for a last-minute party!

The Menu

We opted to go with a app-heavy cocktail party instead of a sit down dinner. It’s a low maintenece (and easier clean up) way to entertain. Our menu focused on using high-quality store-bought ingredients, plus pantry staples to create recipes that can either be made in advance and have on-hand or made in under an hour.

How to throw a stress-free holiday party that can come together in an afternoon with a full menu, drinks, and decorating ideas for a last-minute party!

How to throw a stress-free holiday party that can come together in an afternoon with a full menu, drinks, and decorating ideas for a last-minute party!

How to throw a stress-free holiday party that can come together in an afternoon with a full menu, drinks, and decorating ideas for a last-minute party!

The Plan

The idea behind this party is that you should be able to throw it at the drop of a hat because you will have already have your cupboards and freezer stocked with a few essentials. Here are the things you should have on hand:

Tableware

How to throw a stress-free holiday party that can come together in an afternoon with a full menu, drinks, and decorating ideas for a last-minute party!

Food/Drink

How to throw a stress-free holiday party that can come together in an afternoon with a full menu, drinks, and decorating ideas for a last-minute party!

How To Prep

The next step is to go shopping for the perishable items to round out the menu and pick up some flowers for decorating, then head to the kitchen and get prepping.

Up to 3 days in advance:

  • Butternut Squash Hummus

Night Before:

  • Fry the sage
  • Make the sauces for the meatballs
  • Bake the cupcakes
  • Make the hot honey and balsamic glaze
  • Arrange flowers
  • Set up bar
  • Set up buffet

An Hour Before

  • Bake Tartlets
  • Wrap Persimmons
  • Bake Brazi Bites
  • Arrange Cheese Board
  • Warm sauces for meatballs

As Guests Arrive

  • Bake meatballs and toss in sauce
  • Set food out on buffet

We hope this party inspires you to entertain and if it still seems too daunting, do what we did and invite friends over to help or instead of making the whole menu yourself share the duties among a few of your guests. Most importantly, have fun and we wish you a very happy holidays!

How to throw a stress-free holiday party that can come together in an afternoon with a full menu, drinks, and decorating ideas for a last-minute party!

A big THANK YOU to This Mess Is Ours and Salt & Wind for all the photography!

Friends Who Fete are three gals (¡Hola! Jalapeño, Salt & Wind, and This Mess Is Ours) who love to throw parties big and small. Every season we do something new–find them all here!

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

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