I have to share a typical story that happened last week in my family.  I don’t talk about this a lot but my husband is a SWAT sergeant for his city which means his hours are crazy and unpredictable.  I spent a week planning a quiet get together for his team, their wives and their youngsters.  We had a craft paper wrapped kid table, a cute drink station, an elegant yet playful dinner table set up, a yummy ice cream bar prepared, not to mention the $150+ I spent on a house cleaner PLUS the $300 in catered food waiting to be picked up.  I had the house just right, completed some minor honey to-do’s that needed to get done, repainted a small wall in my kitchen that’s been on my own to-do list, had yummy candles burning and waited, waited and waited.  Hubby called an hour before it was supposed to start and says “Sorry, babe, we’re on surveillance and can’t leave, I don’t know when I’ll be home.”  And just like that, no party.  I had to laugh because I knew this was a risk when I invited them all over.  Police life!  SO…why this post?  

7 tips to SIMPLIFY holiday entertaining! Plus a cute kid craft or Christmas treat idea, Chex mix holiday trees!

This was my first time hosting a party for a large group (about 30 people) so I wanted to share some tips on getting ready for a holiday party (that can also be used when celebrating family holiday moments and activities) in the crazy month of December. Things I learned if I do could do it all over again (not until he’s in a more stable schedule, ha)!

SIMPLIFY:

I’ve attended events where every minor detail is accounted for down to sprigs of holly on the toilet paper. Knock it off.  No one cares about those cute details, they just want a warm environment where they feel welcome and comfortable enough to take off their coat.  Besides, if it’s too cute, they’ll want a house tour so you’ll have to have every nook and cranny clean AND organized and you’ll be showing off your kid’s personal bedrooms and who has time for that!

SET THE MOOD:

LED candles, scented pinecones and a reindeer ornament

My sister in law Jen is a huge party host.  Her biggest tip to me was LIGHTING.  She suggested turning on those Scentsy pots with holiday scents, put a candle in each room, turn off the overhead lighting and turn on the lamps.  Small Christmas trees are affordable so I had 3 on the front porch, 2 on the back porch plus my family Christmas tree lit with kid ornaments and my white craft room tree decorated with colorful ornaments.  Have Christmas music playing in the background too, if the conversation hits a lull, the Christmas music will fill in.

SPREAD OUT FOOD/DRINKS:

Chex™ Muddy Buddies™

| Photo courtesy of Chex Mix ™|

We live in a 40 year old house that we’re slowing remodeling as money allows.  It’s not small, it fits our family of six well, but it tends to feel crowded when you jam 25+ people and kids running around. Solution…spread out the food.  I put the drink station on the back porch (AZ isn’t a cold state but it’s in the 40’s/50’s at night so we had heaters on the back porch too) along with the ice cream bar.  I had Chex™ Party Mix mix in cute bowls in the kitchen, dining room and on the main eating table too.

Chex party mix + holiday entertaining tips to simplify!

| Chex™ Mix photo cred, check out their whole party collection, yum! |

This will not only keep people from getting too hungry before dinner starts, it’ll force them to spread throughout the house naturally.  They’ll tend to congregate next to the snack bowls so I put the bowls next to larger areas to stand around.  Fill the bowls with Muddy Buddies too, everyone loves a variety of sweet and salty!

CATER OR POTLUCK:

|source|

At first I planned on a potluck but then wanted to treat these guys to a nice dinner since my hubby is the boss.  He suggested burgers since most of them prefer paleo style eats to keep in shape.  I thought burgers were pretty casual for a Christmas-esque type party but I priced it out for all the meat, buns, sides, etc and realized I would be spending a couple hundred.  So I called a local Mexican restaurant we love and went that route (luckily they didn’t charge a cancellation fee in the end). Let me tell you, as soon as I knew I didn’t have to spend the whole day in the kitchen, I was so relieved!  I was able to focus on minor details like clearing off the fridge.

PAPER OR PLASTIC:

There are some stealth plastic goods out now that look real. I bought a pack of 50 “glass” plates for $9.98 at Sam’s Club.  Worth it to not have to wash dishes afterward.  Bonus: there are also “silver” utensils, totally worth the few extra bucks.  After a long party, the last thing you want to do is stay up late washing dishes or getting into that awkward “No it’s okay, leave the dishes, you’re my guest!” conversation.  I also set out large garbage cans on the back porch for easy access, don’t forget to add a couple extra bags in the bottom so if one of your guests wants to be polite and swap it for you, they can easily grab a new bag.

TAKE HOME GIFTS:

DIY glitter succulents | Easy Christmas decor idea, painted pots with glitter tops.

Keep in mind we’re simplifying so this is NOT necessary but I had these adorable succulent pots leftover so I quickly wrapped in cellophane with a Christmas card and placed them on a cake stand on a small table as they walked out the door.  (Did they even see the cute set up? NO 🙁 BUT hubby sent them home with this guys the next day so they still received them which is the important thing.)

KID ACTIVITES:

Chex Mix Trees, perfect for holiday parties!

Since we had planned on little hands at the party, I was going to have them color on the butcher paper and work on a fun craft after we were done eating.   These adorable Muddy Buddies holiday trees are easy for kids to make and yummy for the rest of the family to munch on.  I made the middle tree (I could have used chocolate frosting to hide the cone) but my 11 and 7 year old made the other two for me and loved it.  It was a fun family night for us, creating and taste-testing the different flavors of Muddy Buddies. (My favorite is Peppermint but my hubby loves Snickerdoodle.)

Chex Mix Trees, perfect for holiday parties!

To make these cute trees, you’ll need waffle cones, frosting, Chex™ Mix, random candies for accessorizing.  Just spread the frosting over the cones, starting from the bottom working up, layer the buddies till you get to the top.  Use small dabs of frosting to secure small candies as “ornaments” and a big candy for the top “star”.  We used L to R, Cookies and Cream Muddy Buddies, Dark Chocolate Muddy Buddies and Peppermint Muddy Buddies.  Can’t go wrong with any of their flavors!

Cookies & Cream Chex Mix Holiday Trees, perfect for entertaining!

Dark Chocolate Chex Mix Holiday Trees, perfect for entertaining!

Peppermint Chex Mix Holiday Trees, perfect for entertaining!

These are perfect neighbor gifts since they’ll feed 2 people.  Gently set it in a treat bag, wrap it with bakers twine and ribbon then tie on our free tag saying “A sweet tree’t for you”.  Simple!  You can send these home with the kids after (because you know they’ll be too full to eat it during crafting since they’ll have munches on so many) or gift them to a neighbor or friends at school.

Chex Mix Trees, perfect for holiday parties + a FREE treat tag!

Download the tags FREE gift tags here.

Chex Mix Trees, perfect for holiday parties + FREE treat tags!

Try our other holiday Chex Mix recipe, Peppermint Pattie style. Is is delish!

YUMMY peppermint pattie Chex mix recipe PLUS free neighbor printable tag via www.lollyjane.com

BIG THANKS to Chex™ Muddy  for sponsoring today’s post! They are the best solution to spending less time in the kitchen and more time celebrating the holidays with family and friends. Bonus: Now available in a variety of deliciously sweet, salty and crunchy flavors, they deliver the taste everyone knows and loves—right from the bag. So whether you’re looking for an easy treat for your family during a holiday movie night or tree decorating, or are just looking for something to simply indulge on yourself, try these stress-free snacks.  I tied a Christmas card to a bag of Brownie flavored Buddies to gift to a neighbor. You know we’re all about simplifying here at Lolly Jane!

Thanks for supporting companies who keep LJ runnin’ Please keep up with Chex ™ Mix on Facebook and Twitter | Find our disclosure here.

Happy {SIMPLE} entertaining! See how to decorate a real tree in 7 easy steps!

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