The holidays are the most wonderful (and hectic) time of the year. Whether you’re planning on hosting a large dinner party or an intimate get-together, the festive season doesn’t need to leave you feeling overwhelmed. Armed with the following insight, you can easily make the busy season joyfully manageable, and still make sure you and your guests bring in the good cheer.

Keep It Simple with Casual and Creative Décor

I love adding a little twist to my home décor when throwing a holiday fete. Every occasion is a new opportunity to rejuvenate my usual aesthetic and be on par with the season. I do my best to recycle old jars throughout the year that I fill with flowers, cork tops or nuts. The jars can even be used as votive candle holders. Baskets on the other hand are perfect for holding for cranberries, apples, pine cones or candy canes. Incorporate lively colors, patterns and textures to spice up your home’s appearance. The result is a great centerpiece for your tabletop or an adornment to be placed around the house or apartment for extra flair.

Don’t Leave Everything to the Last Minute

Prepping in advance leaves more time to mingle with friends and family. Get ahead by setting the table the night before, making sure that linens are clean and place settings are sparkling. The biggest hosting mistake you can make is serving on dishes with spots and cloudy film. To ensure this won’t happen, and to avoid spending more time rewashing your dishes right out of the dishwasher, use OxiClean Dishwashing Booster in addition to your detergent with your next load. It helps boost the cleaning performance to remove cloudy film, spots and streaks that detergent alone can leave behind.

Coordinate the Cooking

Once the table is set, think about the main attraction — the food! To refrain from having to make last-minute trips to the grocery store, create a well-prepared list with all your menu items and do the shopping several days before your party. Consider incorporating make-ahead menu items that taste even better the next day, like butternut squash soup, garlic mashed potatoes or a marinated cucumber salad. This way, you’ll be able to concentrate on the main dishes the day of the affair rather than stress about your entire menu. Find ideas on what to serve on my blog.

Invite Guests to Participate in the Revelry

When it’s time to eat, you might want to keep things informal. Consider allowing guests to serve themselves and sit as they please. Use a table that can be accessed from both sides to speed up serving and leave out serving utensils or tongs, enabling guests to help themselves with a free hand. To simplify the drink selection and kick off the party, you can offer a signature cocktail or punch with dinner as a bonus.

Involve the Kids

After dinner, enlist the youngsters to assist with dessert. Create a cookie decorating station by setting out a tray of undecorated sugar cookies, and fill various containers with edible toppings, such as chocolate, mints, sprinkles and frosting. Kids adore this activity that leads to unique desserts at the same time.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Holidays are about good parties, delicious food and drinks, and a splendid time. But when people are having fun, there are bound to be spills and stains. The best way to avoid accidents is to prevent them from setting in the first place. Keep a multipurpose stain removal product like OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover handy. This powerful stain remover does away with pesky food stains and wine spills on almost any surface. Just mix the solution according to the package instructions and keep it nearby so you’re ready to tackle stains as they happen on linens, clothes, carpets and more.

Gingerbread Pancakes

Perfect for breakfast or brunch gatherings, these gingerbread pancakes will fill your home with the irresistible scent of the holidays.

Brownie Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

Indulge in the exquisite blend of rich, chocolaty brownie and creamy cheesecake in this delight.

‘Tis the Season for Saving

Keep your holidays happy and financially in check with these simple tips for staying cost conscious throughout the season.

Best Face Forward

Getting that glam look this holiday season.