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The holidays are upon us, and between shopping for the best Cyber Week deals and preparing food, hosting preparation can fall to the wayside. We enlisted hosting expert Jane Treacy of QVC to give us her best holiday party tips ahead of the season so you'll be ready to go before the festivities begin.
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Treacy is not only a video commerce veteran at QVC with multiplatform experience, she's also a long-time host of her own holiday get-togethers. Follow along for her best advice for newcomers to hosting, including her favorite traditions and recipes, the best hostess gift she's ever received and more.
1. Plan, plan, plan
Forethought was big on Treacy's list of tips for hosting holiday parties. "It is never too soon to start planning! The more you plan the more fun you will have. My minimum is two weeks out," she advises. She recommends laying the groundwork in advance so you know exactly what you need.
"The more organized you are the more relaxed you will be!" Treacy says. "I keep a notebook with daily to-do lists so I don't get overwhelmed during the busy holiday season." To keep track, try Steel & Mill Co.'s large notebooks, which come in a variety of colors and patterns, so you can stay organized in the color palette of your choice.
2. Queue up great music
It's the holiday season, and that means holiday music is already on the airwaves. "It sets the theme of the party," Treacy says. She recommends having your playlist ready.
When it comes to speakers, we loved the Bose SoundLink Flex, which featured in our roundup of the best portable speakers thanks to its superb sound quality—perfect for countless replays of "All I Want for Christmas Is You."
3. Wear comfy shoes
All-day holiday partygoing and hosting requires a pair of sturdy footwear. Treacy recommends comfortable shoes as you prepare for the day: "Every host will be happier with comfy feet!" You can stay cozy, yet festive, in a pair of faux fur sneakers from Tretorn.
4. Stick to classic recipes (and don't be afraid to outsource)
"If you are entertaining for the first time, stick with what you know," Treacy advises. "This is not the time to try a new recipe! Family favorites are the best. If there's a category that is stressing you out, like baking, then order from your favorite bakery."
Treacy's favorite dishes over the years have included her Yule Log and her Bouche de Noel cake. If you're in the market for serveware, you can snag these six-inch dessert plates decorated with cardinals and festive sayings.
5. Prep food ahead of time
"Once my father actually put caution tape to keep people out of the kitchen!" Treacy says. "But seriously, prep as much as you can the day ahead so you are not in the kitchen chopping and prepping when your guests have arrived."
For an added bit of flair, Treacy recommends putting your menu in a picture frame to "help your guests make choices at the buffet." If preparation gets away from you, it's nice to have some emergency libations on hand. Treacy recommends you keep drinks, desserts and appetizers in another room "to keep people out of the kitchen."
6. Set the mood
"Think about lighting," Treacy advises. "Flameless candles and dim lights will set a lovely mood." If you have a bustling party planned with kids and furry friends running around the space, you can rely on battery-powered candles to get you through, like Luminara's set of two color-changing candles.
7. For host gifts, thoughtfulness is key
If you're not hosting this year, you might be in the market for a nice gift for your holiday host. Treacy recommends veering toward the personal. "I love when a hostess gift shows the person really put thought into it. For instance, I collect salt and pepper shakers, so when a friend recently brought a salt and pepper set to a party, I was so touched." You can get a set of adorable salt and pepper shakers of your own at QVC.
8. Embrace traditions
Holiday parties hold a fond place in people's hearts. "Since we have family in Ireland and relatives in Canada, we have Christmas crackers to end the meal," Treacy says. "You pop them open, get a paper crown to put on (and we do!) and everyone gets a riddle to read and a prize." Establish your own party popper tradition with these festive metallic crackers (complete with paper crowns).
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This article originally appeared on Reviewed: QVC Jane Treacy: How to host a great holiday party