One on One With Nancy Polsdofer


Tips to De-stress Party Planning- By Gina Dostler


With Santa’s ho-ho-ho heard in every mall, strings of lights outlining houses and an underlying happy hum everywhere, the holiday season is in full swing. To spread the wealth of good attitude and gratitude, holiday parties are happening everywhere, observing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other reasons to celebrate.

Getting the party started can be a daunting undertaking. For those with parties still pending or last minute get-togethers of friends, I spoke with my friend Nancy, a mother, grandmother, wife, and excellent party thrower and asked for advice. “How do I make a party perfect and fun?”

And with a wink she gave me some simple tips and ways to make festivities flow easier and create memorable party moments to smile about.

First, keep everything in perspective.

Everything is done to have fun. Even if ba-humbugs are in attendance, remember it is all about cherishing the moments, making laughter and spreading the love. It’s a time when miracles happen and that does include a perfect chocolate soufflé and a set of hors d’oeuvres the dog hasn’t tasted. Go with the flow and enjoy the moments and then later find it all posted in Facebook for another round of viewing frolic.

Have fun in the process and make homemade party favors.

Party favors are a great way to set the mood and send people home with a little fun memento. Painted mini pinecones in bright colors serve as fun favor or firestarter. Dip the pinecones in melted soy wax scented with eucalyptus or pine and after they dry, place in a glass with ribbon to make a lovely little gift. Other ideas: raid the bulk spice bin and fill up little glass vials with a holiday spice tea mix or get evergreen seedlings and plant them in mini aluminum cups, a planting project for children and adults alike. Whatever you make, a homemade party favor is a nice way of saying thank you for showing up.

Set the menu and plan the grocery list.

The most important things to accomplish, of course, is food. Skip baking the new recipe found on the Internet. Or at least try it out before the party. This way you can figure out if it is worth the effort or even a way to make it better. Otherwise, stick to what you know. If you are great at artichoke dips, do that. It’s best to sit down and write up a detailed grocery list so nothing is forgotten and last minute grocery runs avoided.

Create a beverage station and add festive linens and tableware.

Simple thought, but a little corner place that displays the pretty glassware, drinks, cocktail mixes, napkins, wine bucket, ice, and other accessories goes a long way toward providing a central location for quenching thirsts, but adds a classy element to the party. You can buff it up using a silver tray, adding a vase of fresh flowers or candles. For the table, adding a linen tablecloth and matching cloth napkins adds glam and brings a little formality and beauty to the party. Mixing colors and patterns amps up the fun factor. It’s okay to mix and match the tableware. It creates a different experience for each guest and enlivens the table with a quirky elegance.

For sit down dinners, think about the table.

Round dining tables can be perfect for intimate groups and small dinners while long rectangular set-ups encourage big group interaction with more private chats among seatmates. Square tables limit seating to four, but that might be perfect for smaller spaces. For buffet style, make sure there is enough seating for everyone, and do consider many guests love the ambiance of the kitchen, so if possible, include extra seating.

Don’t forget the importance of lighting and music.

Set the mood with lighting and music. Along with overhead lights, add a more festive holiday feel with lit candles, tea lights or votives placed around the room. Using candelabras can also infuse personality into a party. Have fun with the music. People relax more when music fills the air. Choose from traditional songs, jazzy tunes to contemporary renditions; the mood of the party can spill from your speakers. Compiling some of the songs played at the party can also make a nice CD party favor to send home with the guests.

Create games and plan stuff for the kids.

One great way is to have them involved in making simple crafts, such as paper angels, jingle bell wreaths, felt stocking or paper bag reindeer. Have the items setup at a special table where the creative endeavors can take place. Set up a hot cocoa bar with carafes of hot chocolate and chop up peppermint sticks, caramel pieces, favorite candy bars and best of all colorful mini-marshmallows for delightful add-ins for the mugs of cocoa. Decorate the bar with an array of holiday mugs and watch kids and adults flock to the chocolate. Also include party games that can be fun icebreakers for both adults and kids. A good one is North Pole Two-by-Two that gets everyone laughing and acting silly. Whatever the game, fun is sure to happen.

The best tip of all: hang them up.

Coats and purses that is. Invest in a metal folding garment rack and keep the guests from having to dig through a mountain of clothing at the end of the party. The racks are cheap, come on wheels and can be placed at the front door for easy, organized access.