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Planning the Perfect Holiday Bash
Ready to throw the perfect party? Angela Gala gives you some tips on how to execute it.

Here are some great holiday party tips.

'Tis the season to be merry… and broke... and stressed. Every Christmas brings about numerous challenges, gift giving, party going and party throwing. I love throwing parties—I do it for a living. I especially love throwing holiday parties with my husband for family and friends but at times I have forgotten to follow my own advice. This year I have vowed to do what I tell all my clients to do.

My most important tip is this: If you and your spouse are stressed, your guests will know. The secret to avoiding stress and hosting a fabulous party is planning.

Let’s start with the budget. Set a reasonable budget for your party. Consider what you want to spend overall and then consider where the funds will go. Make your list to include invitations, food, beverages and possibly a staff to assist. Assign them a dollar figure and go about making your arrangements. Be sure you understand what is most important to you. Is it a wonderful invitation? Perhaps it’s fabulous wine. Whatever it is focus your funds there and cut them in other places.

When budgeting, keep in mind that your guest count is the biggest driver. Your costs go up exponentially the more people you invite. Consider who you really want to attend and whom your guests will enjoy.

Find a theme for your party. Let’s assume you aren’t going to invest a lot in decorations. Chances are your home is already decorated. Pile a nice collection of poinsettias on the center of the food table and flood your entire home with votive candles. Hang some ornaments on ribbon on your chandelier and call it a day. You can find pretty frosted votive holders with votives at Target for less than $1.50 each.

Make your invitation in the color of your holiday decorations. If you use blue and white, use blue in your invitations, white poinsettias on your table and blue and white ribbon and ornaments on the chandelier.

Find one thing that is surprising for your guests. For example, button-sized Christmas Blinky Lights, which are flashing snowman, Santa hats and other items are a perfect item to hand out when everyone arrives. It will jump start the party. They are fairly inexpensive and you can find them on www.flashyblinkylights.com.

When planning the menu, try to use ingredients in more than one dish. Always prepare food that can be prepared in advance. Try to do very little "a la minute." If it is a party for close family and friends, you might want to consider a potluck party. I have a party every year with my cousins, aunts and uncles. We all get such joy from sampling everyone’s dishes and they get joy from bringing something they are proud of. This party is by far the easiest to plan.

Investing in a couple of staff persons—someone to serve at the bar and someone to help clean up—can be a huge help. You may find that you have more time to enjoy your guests. If this is not in the budget, make your bar self-serve.

The night before, lay out your dishes and glassware, decorate your table and load the CD player. Make a list of all that must be done the day of the party and assign tasks to your spouse and your children. Choose your outfit and make sure that it actually fits and is comfortable.

The point of all of this is a little preparation can go a long way in enjoying your party. Don’t get caught up in the "everything must be perfect" scenario. Have fun, enjoy your friends and family and enjoy being with your spouse. If you do, your party will be a hit.

Angela Gala is principal with Rogers & Gala Creative Partners, a firm that plans parties, weddings and special events nationwide. She can be reached at angela@rogersandgala.com.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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