December 22, 2014

Throw a No Stress, No Cooking Holiday Party

Christmas. The season for spending time with friends and family. A calm and relaxing time of year. Well, maybe not. This year everyone’s calendar seems full  of errands, last minute shopping, and work. While the thought of having to cook for your holiday party guests may make it tempting to cancel your ugly sweater party all together, hosting a party with an appetizer exchange can help you put the fun back in your holiday event.

A new twist on an old tradition.

Cookie exchanges have been a mainstay of the holiday season for generations. An appetizer swap is an updated, and more upscale, version of this tradition. Each invited guest to an appetizer swap is required to bring enough appetizers to share with each of the other party-goers, eliminating the need for the host to provide food.Hosting an appetizer swap is a convenient and fun way to have a party with a minimal amount of stress and responsibility. Since the food is provided by the guests, hosts only have to provide a beautiful location, supplies and drinks. Throwing an appetizer swap lets you enjoy your party as much as your guests.

How to host an appetizer exchange.

Hosting an appetizer exchange begins with the basics. Finalizing the date, time and guest list should be your top priority. Providing plenty of advanced notice for your guests is essential for a successful appetizer swap, so choosing a date at least two weeks in away is a good idea.Once you have the basic information for your appetizer swap, finding the perfect location is the next step. Many hosts decide to hold the party in their own homes. This is an acceptable option for those who plan on inviting only a few guests. For parties with more guests, consider holding the exchange in an alternative location. You can avoid the hassles of renting a venue by moving the party outside, especially in Arizona where winters are mild. A catering tent on your own property will create a wonderful atmosphere for your event.Take some time when designing invitations for your party. It is important guests understand the concept of an appetizer swap. Don't forget to have guests RSVP. You should require guest to RSVP at least a week before the planned party date. When guests confirm they will attend, ask guests to prepare approximately three portions of their appetizers for each person you invited.When choosing appetizers for your swap, be aware some guests may have dietary restrictions. Try to assign several vegetarian and gluten-free options.Try to organize your party supplies a few days before the big day. This will give you plenty of time to purchase anything you may have forgotten. Double check if you have enough platters, plates, glasses, napkins and utensils for everyone. Remember to have a large selection of wine, beer and soft drinks, along with plenty of ice.Greet your guests as they arrive and show them where they can put their appetizers. If you wish, you can have your guests plate their own appetizers. Provide markers and cards to write the appetizer's name and ingredients. Depending on your party, you can serve appetizers buffet-style or have waiters circulate.

Making the party even easier.

Do you still think you are too busy to host a Christmas party this year? You can make hosting an appetizer swap even easier with help. Busy hosts can:

  • Let a party company handle everything. An experienced party planner can take charge of everything for you. Let a professional handle the invitations, RSVPs, party supplies, the setup and the post-party clean up. All you have to do is take the credit for another memorial event.
  • Hire party staff. Even if you are not hiring an event planner to handle the entire party for you, it makes sense to hire a few people to help out. You may wish to hire waiters, bartenders or people to set up and clean.