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How you're adding more stress to your holiday party — and what to do about it

Holiday parties should be full of merriment and joy, but hosting them can turn you into Mr. Scrooge. The grind of cleaning your house, putting up decorations, preparing a menu and more can leave you too stressed out to find any fun in the holidays, but it doesn't have to be that way. Meredith Mahoney, visionary and general manager of the online home store Birch Lane, has a few tips and tricks to
Star on a golden light background.; Shutterstock ID 214859806; PO: TODAY.com
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Holiday parties should be full of merriment and joy, but hosting them can turn you into Mr. Scrooge. The grind of cleaning your house, putting up decorations, preparing a menu and more can leave you too stressed out to find any fun in the holidays, but it doesn't have to be that way. 

Meredith Mahoney, visionary and general manager of the online home store Birch Lane, has a few tips and tricks to help ensure less stress and more holiday cheer with your upcoming bash. Check out these common entertaining mistakes and Mahoney’s fixes to make your holiday one you get to enjoy as well.

Gita Kulinitch Studio / Today

Mistake #1: Outdoor decor has you tied up in lights. 

You spend an entire weekend stringing hundreds of lights from trees in your front yard, hauling Santa and his reindeer onto the roof and meticulously tying garland and ribbons to fence posts.

Quick fix: Toss the twinkle. 

Listen up, you're going to want to hear this: Mahoney is giving you a free pass to skip the lights, garland and blow-up Santa, insisting that a festive wreath will do just fine. Instead, focus on creating a welcoming and festive environment where your guests will spend the majority of their party time — inside.  

“Create a cozy and inviting atmosphere for your guests by incorporating festive throw pillows, bright candles and warm throw blankets throughout your home,” she says.

Mistake #2: You are one recipe away from going over the edge. 

You toil away in the kitchen making dozens of holiday cookies and prepping amuse-bouches until all you want to do is make like a bear and curl up for a long winter’s nap.

Quick fix: Homemade isn't essential.

Sure, homemade is great, but Mahoney bets that bakery nearby makes some pretty delicious treats as well. "Don’t feel like everything you serve has to be homemade,” Mahoney says. “Find a great bakery where you can buy dessert ahead of time, or ask your closet culinary friend to bring their signature appetizer.”

Mistake #3: There's not enough time. 

You have a potatoes that need mashing and a cake that needs frosting when — ding-dong — the first guest arrives.

Quick fix: Bring the party in the kitchen. 

“Every party has an early bird,” Mahoney says. “To avoid the extra stress when you’re still preparing for your party, set up the bar in or near the kitchen so you can chat with the guests as you finish cooking.”

Mistake #4: The bar turns into a danger zone. 

You crowd your sideboard with so many wine goblets, cups for punch and highball glasses for cocktails that glassware topples to the ground when people try to serve themselves. 

Quick fix: Keep it simple. 

No guests are going to fuss over what glasses should go with what — so why should you? “Select one beautiful set of festive glassware to serve all of your cocktails, rather than having to put out different types of glassware for red wine, white, champagne, beer, etc.” Mahoney says. A tumbler-style glass is perfect for any type of beverage.

Mistake #5: You end up spending the end of the night sorting through coats. 

When guests arrive, you just toss their puffy jackets in the master bedroom.

Quick fix: Let a garment rack do the work for you. 

“No hostess has time to rifle through coats to figure out which coat belongs to which guest,” Mahoney says. “An inexpensive garment rack by the front door will keep coats organized, and lets guests help themselves.”

Ellen Sturm Niz is an editor and writer living, parenting, and working in New York City. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest,and Google+.