Holiday Entertaining

6 Simple Ideas for Holiday Entertaining

Published On December 19, 2013 | By Christa Schueler | Fun, Holiday, Party Planning

‘Tis the season for holiday entertaining. It’s that time of year when we plan our Christmas Eve dinner and pull out our holiday platters and serving trays from storage. We stock up on eggnog and wine … lots and lots of wine. But this is also the most hectic time of year so putting together a holiday party isn’t always an ideal situation and you find your tinsel in quite a tangle. For those of you who are new to holiday entertaining or just need some fresh ideas that are simple but still impressive, RECESS has some great suggestions that will get the job done with your sanity intact.

Go potluck-style.

Make things easy on yourself and ask everyone to bring an appetizer, side dish or dessert. It gives everyone a chance to chip in and allows you to concentrate on an impressive main course.

Thanksgiving Day Guest Side-Dish Ideas

Check out these delicious and creative side dish ideas: Thanksgiving Day Side Dish Ideas

Incorporate a theme.

This year, I decided to do an international theme since my family is comprised of many different ethnic backgrounds. My stepfather traditionally makes an Italian dish every Christmas Eve and my cousins love German food. My mother-in-law and my husband’s cousins are from Guam and often love to have authentic Chamorro dishes at parties. I plan to make yummy tamales and a 7 Layer Dip with tortilla chips. I think everyone will love the variety and appreciate having a little of their own food traditions this Christmas.

Sicilian Christmas Pizza by Chef Bruno DiFabio

Sicilian Christmas Pizza by Chef Bruno DiFabio

Read about a Sicilian-themed Christmas meal: Sicilian Christmas Pizza by Bruno DiFabio

Do the “gift exchange” game.

We have a super large family (my husband has 4 brothers) and we have several nieces and nephews besides our own three children so buying a gift for everyone is not possible. In the past, we would do the “Secret Santa” thing but buying for one specific person always seemed to be difficult (especially for my brothers-in-law). This year, I’m changing things up by doing a gift exchange.

For those who don’t know what that is, it’s simply a game of exchanging gifts(but it’s hilarious and a tad ruthless). Everyone who wants to participate will bring a wrapped present that costs no more than $15 (you can decide your own amount). We’ll probably pick numbers from a hat to determine the order of who will go first, second and so on. The first person will select a present from the pile of wrapped gifts and then open it. The next person can either take the gift from the first person or select a new present from the pile. If he or she takes a present from someone else, that person can go back to the pile and select a new one. This continues until everyone has had a chance to take a gift and there are none left. Once a present has been “taken”, some like to say stolen, three times, then that present stays with whomever took it the third time. There are different ways to play this game and you can make up your own rules to suit your guests, but it’s lots of fun and a great way to include everyone in the celebration.

If you have a lot of children at your holiday party, you can have them do their own gift exchange with the same rules applying. Just make sure someone is there to mediate because it can get ugly!


Learn more about how to shop and save this holiday season: Top 3 Ways to Save With Online Holiday Gift Shopping

Make a holiday playlist.

You can’t entertain without music playing in the background. Make a holiday playlist (I use Spotify) and keep your guests in the mood to sing, dance or just enjoy holiday melodies.

kelly Clarkson

Give the kids something fun to do.

Bored kids and holiday entertaining don’t mix. My kids love decorating cookies as I’m sure most kids do. Before your party, make sugar cookies in the shapes of candy canes, Christmas trees, stars, etc. Later, when the kids arrive and are settled, give them a place where they can make a bit of a mess and have them decorate the cookies using frosting, colored sprinkles M&Ms and other various candies. They can even take them home that night and place them in a dish for Santa (wink).

#FreshHoliday Gingerbread house making station

#FreshHoliday Gingerbread house making station

Before you buy those baked goodies for your kids, learn more about avoiding GMOs: 3 Easy Tips for Avoiding GMOs This Holiday Season

Take photos and then share.

Don’t forget to take pictures (even if it’s with your phone). As the host or hostess, you may not have a lot of time to snap photos so have your spouse or in my case, teenage daughter, take pictures when you don’t have the free time to do so. After your party or family get-together, create an online album and share with your family and friends on Facebook or e-mail. Even a quick video via Instagram or a longer one using will be a great way to share those memories.

Family photographers Vegas

Did you know that Las Vegas has some really awesome venues for taking holiday photos? Check them out: 7 Great Spots for Outdoor Family Photos in Las Vegas


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About The Author

UNLV graduate, wife, mother of three, blogger and aspiring novelist, Christa Schueler brings her writing, editing and research skills to Recess. As an advocate for education and health reform and a 25 year Las Vegas resident, Christa understands the need for providing a platform and a "voice" for women in Southern Nevada. Despite Las Vegas being one of the fastest growing cities in the country, Christa has seen continual lack of community connection and strives to change that. Now, she's joined the sandbox revolution!

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