Make holiday entertaining a breeze

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With the holidays drawing close, your home will soon be the center of attention when entertaining guests from near and far. From creating a festive atmosphere to feeding friends and family, it’s important to plan ahead for a hassle-free holiday season everyone will enjoy.

Make this season’s party planning less stressful and costly with these simple tips.

Decorate in a snap: Fill decorative clear glass jars with seasonal hard candies and treats such as candy canes, Christmas tree-shaped gum drops and red and white peppermints. Place jars either in a group or individually on an entryway table, fireplace mantle or end table for quick and tasty holiday decor. You can also use taller glass jars and fill them with pine cones, ornaments, fresh cranberries or evergreen branches for a more natural holiday look. Either way, these easy, inexpensive decorating tricks will create a festive ambiance in your home.

Keep it simple: Why not host a wine and cheese party instead of a sit-down meal? This type of party allows guests to mix and mingle freely, is budget (and waistline) friendly and requires little prep time so the host can enjoy the party and visit with guests. Set out a few wine, cheese and fruit pairings for guests to sample. Place cards identifying the combinations make good conversation starters too.

Evaluate your space: Providing enough space for you and your guests to move around will contribute to the success of the party. No one likes to fight their way across the room to greet a friend or when they accidentally knock over a wine glass with the slightest movement. Rearrange or remove furniture to provide a better flow throughout the space during the party, while still considering seating, serving and clean-up areas.

Pay attention to details: Make sure your home is welcoming when family and friends arrive. Keep front walks free of snow and ice, arrange evergreen branches in a large planter with a landscape light or two and place on the porch, or set an attractive basket with a folded towel at the bottom near the door to hold guests’ wet boots. Simple steps like these will make sharing your home more enjoyable and your guests feel welcome.

Now that you’ve prepared your home for entertaining, remember to take along a host or hostess gift when you’re the invited guest.