Your Holiday Party Checklist

It’s that hectic time of year again: Between holiday shopping and wrapping presents, sending out greeting cards and traveling to visit family and friends, hosting a holiday party might seem like too much to take on. But with careful planning and preparation, entertaining with wholesome, delicious South Beach Diet–friendly foods can not only be fun, but they can also offer inspiration for staying on track throughout the holiday season.

From the time you make the decision to host a party to the moment you see your last guest out the door, there are all kinds of things to plan, including your guest list, the selection of dishes to prepare, the decor, and more. Keep this checklist handy to use as a guide to planning a perfect holiday event.

Four to Six Weeks Before

  • Decide what type of party you want to throw and how many people you want to invite.
  • Make your invitation list.
  • Send the invitations.

 
Two to Four Weeks Before

  • Shop for dry pantry ingredients, drinks, paper goods (including special napkins or cocktail napkins and extra paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper), votive and taper candles, crepe paper, camera batteries, games for the kids.
  • Think through any extra items you might need, and make arrangements to rent, purchase, or borrow them. For example, you might need special table linens, a coffee urn, extra chairs or tables, or a coat rack or extra hangers.

 
One Week Before

  • Plan your menu and drink offerings.
  • Create a shopping list.
  • Shop for perishables, as well as fresh coffee, a selection of black and herbal teas, fat-free or reduced-fat milk, fat-free half-and-half, and sugar substitute, as well as any groceries for make-ahead dishes.
  • Launder and press tablecloths and cloth napkins.
  • Polish silver.
  • Clean the house.
  • Prepare party favors: These are not necessary but can be fun. For example, you could make extra spiced nuts and wrap them in cellophane bags tied with colorful ribbon. Or you could give small bottles of flavored or plain extra-virgin olive oil as healthy South Beach Diet–friendly parting gifts.

 
A Few Days Before

  • Start working on any dishes that can be prepared ahead.
  • Decide where coats will go.
  • Set up the dining and buffet tables and chairs.
  • Make notes for any special toasts you may want to give.
  • Set aside special music to play.

 

On Party Day

  • Eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Finish preparing the food as early as possible.
  • Have your mid-morning snack.
  • If you like, get some fresh flowers.
  • Schedule time to exercise, outdoors if possible, so you can get some fresh air.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Have your lunch and mid-afternoon snack.
  • Empty the dishwater before the party so that dirty dishes can go right in later.
  • Set out and light votive and taper candles.
  • Finally, enjoy yourself!

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