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11 Easy Celebrity-Approved Entertaining Tips to Steal for the Holidays
Paltrow warns against using tall table decorations, like over-the-top floral arrangements and giant candles, as they can block views during dinner and obstruct conversation. Instead, the actress recommends small vases and scattered flowers to keep the dinner table festive, while still allowing for people to see each other. “I never use big flower arrangements or tall candles, as they get in the way of good conversation,” she told One Kings Lane. “I like to mix and match small, textured vases with casually arranged flowers.”
Because potlucks can feel boring and overdone (especially if your guests are heading to multiple holiday parties a year), Duff recommends recruiting them to help in the kitchen. Not only does the act lighten your workload, but it helps the entire party feel like a community in a different way than if your guests simply brought over a store-bought pie.
“One thing that I’ve learned is to give people jobs so everyone is involved,” Duff toldPeople. "If I’m serving dinner and making appetizers and stuff, when people are arriving I like to give them little jobs and I think everybody wants that. No one wants to sit there and feel useless so even if it’s like slicing up a cucumber or putting the crackers on a cheese plate or stirring the pot so it doesn’t burn, it’s actually really helpful and it brings everyone together.”
When you're busy finishing last-minute touches to dinner, Culpo recommends inviting a social butterfly to entertain guests when you're away. In an interview with , the Instagrammer said she frequently invites a "hypeman" to break the ice between guests, so everyone is having a good time.
"Sometimes you need to facilitate conversation by playing a game or having a hype man—you know that friend that can start a conversation with anyone!" she said.
To take stress off herself when hosting a party, Larter featured a make-your-own-cocktail station for guests to mix their own drinks. Her stations typically includes basics like Contreau, blanco tequila, fresh lime, and seasonal fruits and herbs. (Though, she admits it can be whatever you want!)
Along with being a clever way to lighten her workload, Larter touts make-your-own-drink stations as a fun way to incorporate guests. "It’s fun and interactive, while also taking some of the stress off you!" Larter told .
Bell is no stranger to using store-bought food for parties. (She's the first to admit that Whole Foods baked goods taste better than hers.) Though, when she is going store-bought, she advises replating the dishes so they feel more thoughtful. For example, she recommends putting store-bought cheese on a butcher's board with almonds, fig jam, and olives to make non-homemade look just as festive, she told TODAY.
To save money on decor, Conrad recommends finding items around the house and recycling them as vintage party decor. In an interview withRedbook, she lists old mustard jars and rocks (yes, from her front yard) as items she's used to decorate her tables. She uses the mustard jars as flower pots and the stones (which she uses to write on chalk with) as nametags for her guests.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but Lakshmi has a good reason to prepare dishes like casseroles (things that stay well overnight) ahead of time. Along with finishing dinner before her guests, Lakshmi also makes sure the table is set so she has no tasks to do and can focus 100-percent on the party.
"Whether you're cooking for two or 20, you want your attention on your guests and not on the million things going in the kitchen. If you have a good time, they'll have a good time!" she toldBrides.
Though there is a lot of controversy over whether guests should bring gifts to a party, Ray uses the social cue to her advantage. Because there are items that even Food Network hosts have trouble making, Ray recommends asking guests to bring dishes that are difficult to whip up in the kitchen. She also advises to stick to dishes you've made before to not put extra pressure on yourself.
“If you need help and you suck at baking like I do, or you don’t know how to make cocktails, or you don’t have the money to buy cocktails, that’s what you tell people to bring,” Ray toldPeople. “People always say, ‘What do you want me to bring?’ You say, ‘Oh, nothing.’ That’s stupid; just be honest. Tell them.”
To ensure that kids aren't running around as you're finishing dinner or chatting with guests, Thiessen recommends setting up a designated kids' section—such as a coloring station of a arts and crafts table—to keep them occuppied and "so they're not getting into trouble."
She also advises taking the kids party outside, so the inside party stays pristine and proper. “Lay blankets out on the grass,” she toldPeople, “and let them go to town and be as messy and loud as they want in their space.”
Because nobody has time to match every last thing on their dinner table, Kardashian recommends mixing and matching items, such as napkins and placemats, to ensure you have enough for all your guests, while still looking put-together. In an interview withArchitectural Digest, the reality revealed this was a trick she picked up from her mom, Kris Jenner.
"I always use my white linen Sferra napkins and placemats, but one trick I learned from my mom is, if there are more people than sets of matching napkins and placemats, you can mix in different patterns by alternating each place setting with a different design," she said. "If I'm having a big party, I'll mix in the striped Missoni napkins above."
After finishing a bottle of wine or water, Sims recommends saving the container for gorgeous table vases.
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