Coasting while hosting: 5 ways to keep your holiday spirit at your next party

(BPT) – Many of us are already looking forward to hosting holiday gatherings this year — decorating our homes, whipping up festive foods, planning fun activities and surrounding ourselves with the warmth of family and friends.

In fact, one recent survey found 67 percent of U.S. consumers host and prepare food for holiday events, while another predicts we’ll be spending an average $172 on such entertaining this season. As enjoyable as hosting is, however, the preparations can be time consuming. In a survey by Wakefield Research for BJ’s Wholesale Club this year, 26 percent of U.S. respondents reported needing at least 24 hours to prepare for a holiday party. And trying to pull everything together can add pressure when we have copious other demands on our time.

“Our routines are interrupted by travel, guests, parties and the holidays themselves,” notes physician Dr. Spencer Blackman in Entrepreneur. “If you’re entertaining friends and family or organizing a work party, it takes upstream work to ensure a smooth event. Engage your support system and make a plan before things get crazy.”

Consider these host-with-the-most suggestions for keeping the joy of the season no matter how large your impending event — and for making sure it’s more fun than frantic.

* Santa knows who’s on the nice list. You may be head elf, but there’s no reason to take on every bit of the cooking, cleaning and entertaining yourself. Recruit a secondary elf squad ahead of time, assigning specific tasks so the work is parceled out evenly. Note: Youngsters needing gift-buying money may be motivated to take on the more grueling chores.

* Visions of sugarplums. Plan your menu ahead. When you know way ahead of time what you’ll be serving, most food items and utensils can be purchased in advance — and in volume — so you’ll have plenty to offer even if your guest list spikes unexpectedly. The last thing you want is to run out; of the 65 percent of Americans who told Wakefield they’ve been at parties that went awry, 28 percent pointed to a shortage of eating utensils and 27 percent were disappointed the food ran out early. BJ’s Wholesale Club has everything you need to stock up for your party — at incredible value.

* Reindeer games? Check. Do the parents (and everyone else) at your gathering a favor by anticipating how your youngest party attendees will spend their time. Can you put together a kid-friendly craft, Lego, board game or cookie decorating table? Build a blanket fort? Set up age-appropriate video games? Rent movies? Stage a snowman-building contest? Put up port-a-cribs and baby swings for the nappers?

* Haul out the holly. Fifty-six percent of Americans see decor as more impactful on holiday spirit than food, according to Wakefield. You can always go all out on decorations if that’s your thing, but the most striking ones are often the simplest. Hang multiple strands of sparkling lights, add a fire to the fireplace, light sweet-smelling candles and generously place fresh red-ribboned pine boughs on mantles, around doorways and banisters and in containers. Nearly instant magic.

* Mix and a-mingle. All too often, we’re so busy making everything perfect for our guests we don’t have time to join in the fun ourselves. The more you plan ahead to have your food, drinks and entertainment all planned out before guests arrive, the greater your chances of being able to relax and enjoy your own festivities.

The key to being a great host is to prepare enough so you’re not hopelessly frazzled by the time guests arrive. Plan ahead this year so you can appreciate the joy of entertaining and create stellar holiday memories for all who attend. It may be the perfect ending of a perfect day.

Let BJ’s Wholesale Club partner with you in providing all the fresh and frozen grocery items you need for your holiday soiree, in addition to decor, kitchen supplies and a cornucopia of gift ideas.