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Best Ways to Survive the Stress of Holiday Entertaining

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The holidays are supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year." And they are very special as we get together with our friends and loved ones. But since the expectations for holiday gatherings are greater than the rest of the year, there's usually more work to do. To make matters more challenging, there are so many other things that need to be done this month. If you're the host this holiday season, here are my tricks for relieving the holiday stress.

1. Eat Cookies

Donna Pilato
Host a cookie exchange, and then you'll be eating lots of cookies baked by other people! And few things calm holiday stress better than eating cookies. Just ask Santa Claus.

2. Cook Once for Two Parties

It may sound like a lot of work, but very often it's much easier to cook for two events at the same time.

3. Take in a Holiday Concert and Invite Everyone Over for a Take-Out Pot Luck

There's nothing like a little holiday music to put you in a festive mood. It's even better when you share the festivities with friends. Keep the fun going after the final note has been sung by inviting your friends over for a pot luck dinner. But go one step easier by making clear it's a take-out pot luck dinner. With a little organization, this could be the best pot luck ever.

4. Get Through the Month with Last Minute Clean-Ups

Once the season begins there's little point in cleaning too much. WIth the extra foot traffic, and dropping pine needles, you're fighting a losing battle.

5. Use More Candles

Not only do candles create a special mood for your party, they can help you in other ways. For example, how many decorative items will mask a less than perfectly cleaned home the way that candles do? And not only does your home look better in candlelight, but so do you! Finally, when the party is over, you can relax by the light emanating from the remaining tapers.

6. Have an Hors d'Oeuvres Party

It's an easy party when the work can be done in advance and all that's left for you to do is make sure your guests have a fresh drink. The party becomes even easier when the hors d'oeuvres are assembled from easy to purchase, gourmet ingredients. Oh, and when your guests ask what they can bring, you know what to say...dessert!

7. Count Your Blessings and Give Thanks

There's nothing like a little perspective to lessen stress. Think about all the good things of the season, and you may soon find yourself forgetting why you felt so harried.

8. Remember that the Super Bowl is Right Around the Corner

If all of this holiday perfection is getting to be too much for you, take heart. The ultimate "let-your-hair-down" party will be coming soon. You can put away the wedding china and the crystal and replace them with football theme paper goods. Who needs flatware when the entire menu is finger food? Just think, instead of polite conversation, you and your guests can spend the evening yelling at the television. That's right, the Super Bowl will be here before you know it.

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