10 Holiday Party Hacks for a Fun, Festive Season

10 Holiday Party Hacks for a Fun, Festive Season

Quick and clever ideas to help you entertain with style this winter.

By: Leah Maxwell

’Tis the season for entertaining! Whether you’re hosting an intimate dinner party, staging a big blowout, or planning something in between, we’ve got 10 tricks to make your winter celebration a success.

1. Use permanent markers to label glasses; the ink stays on all night and then washes off easily with soap and water. For a little extra style, have guests write their names on strips of decorative washi tape and affix those to the glasses. A few coordinating patterns of tape in your party’s color palette are so much prettier than plastic cups.

2. Use chalkboard paint on a ceramic tile to make your own cheese board. Individual tiles as large as 12 x 12 can be purchased at hardware stores for less than $1 apiece, and one can of chalkboard spray will be enough for several coats on a single tile. (To create a food-safe surface, make sure you buy chalkboard paint that’s labeled nontoxic.) To keep the tile from scratching your table, add felt to the bottom, either using self-stick felt dots or one large piece glued to the bottom. Arrange the cheese on your new tray and label each with chalk for a smart and stylish display.

3. If you’re making hot chocolate for a crowd, prep your whipped cream toppers ahead of time by spraying or piping individual servings onto parchment-covered baking sheets and then popping them in the freezer. To create fun shapes, use a pastry bag with a decorative tip to make a traditional swirl, or spread the cream out flat in the baking sheet and then, once the cream is frozen, use cookie cutters to punch out fun shapes like hearts or stars for your guests to plop into their drinks.

4. If you’re using authentic greenery, branches, or pinecones to decorate for your party, get the bugs off first! A few days before the event, gather everything from outside, give it a good shake, and then seal it all in airtight plastic bags for a day or so. Pinecones can also be debugged by baking them in an oven at 200 degrees for 45 minutes.

5. For festive ice cubes, put two or three cranberries in an ice cube tray before filling the cells with water and freezing them. If you want large carafe or punch bowl ice cubes, make them in muffin tins.

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6. Coffee filters make lovely classic paper snowflakes. Fold each filter in half, then fold it in thirds, then fold it in half one last time. Snip out small shapes from both sides of the folded filter (leaving some of the fold intact on each side), and then unfurl to reveal your lacy snowflake. These look great hanging on walls or windows, dangling from the ceiling with thread, strung on a garland, or displayed on top of the buffet tablecloth.

7. Making deviled eggs for a crowd? Instead of boiling them in batches, cook them all at once in the oven. Put each egg in the cup of a muffin tin -- regular sized or mini -- to keep them from rolling around, and then cook them at 325–350 degrees (depending on your oven and how many eggs you’re doing) for 30 minutes. As soon as you take them out of the oven, plunge them into a large bowl of ice water for about 10 minutes. When they’re cool enough to handle, you’ll be amazed by how easily the peels slide off.


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8. If you forgot to chill drinks ahead of time, adding salt and cold water to your ice bucket or cooler will save the day. Salt water has a lower freezing point than fresh water, which means your drinks will chill faster because they’re surrounded by even colder liquid. (Thanks, science!)

9. If you simply don’t have enough space to keep your drinks cold, use your top-loading washing machine as a backup. When the party’s over, the melted ice can be emptied down the drain, easy peasy.

10. If you don’t have enough coordinating tablecloths, cover tables with wrapping paper instead. Metallic patterns will add extra shine and glamour, and cleanup will be a breeze.

What are your favorite party hacks and entertaining tips?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/KristianSeptimiusKrogh

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