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by Kelly Hass
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Entertaining for the holidays is much like fruitcake. Some fruitcake looks good, but when you take a bite it is dry and flavorless. Other fruitcake has a lackluster appearance, but makes up for it in flavor. Some people bake fruitcake every year because it is what they have always done. Others have not the first clue how to make fruitcake, but would really like to give it a whirl. Whether it’s your first time making fruitcake or your twentieth, it takes some thought and planning.

“When thinking about holiday entertaining, there are certain questions that must be addressed in order to ensure a successful event,” states Diana Polsgrove, president and owner of Eventualities Theme Decorating and Event Planning,

Why a holiday party? Many people have jam-packed calendars full of social obligations in December – especially on weekend nights. Consider hosting a brunch or a weekday gathering. You may also consider a winter gathering in January or February, especially for a corporate party. Employees may appreciate the extra time to spend with friends and family while looking forward to a fun post-holiday event.

What do you want to accomplish? Are you trying to renew old friendships or better get to know those you have met recently? Maybe you are seeking to connect with those in your neighborhood or hoping to just kick back, relax and have a good time. Are you showcasing a new home or holiday décor? “Don’t have a party just to show off your house,” warns Polsgrove. “A nice home may impress a few, but it is the owner of the home that people will remember.”

Who are you going to invite and why? Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, clients … will these people mix well? “Put yourself in the position of each guest you plan to invite and really think about who this person would talk to and if he or she would have a good time. Don’t invite someone just for the sake of inviting them,” says Polsgrove.

What will you serve? Keep it simple. It’s not necessary to over do food and beverage choices. Polsgrove adds, “A menu consisting of two or three main items (meat, cheese, etc.) and two or three side items is plenty. The same goes for the bar. Give guests a few choices, but don’t go overboard.” There is no need to cover your home in holiday décor. A few nice holiday pieces are much better than decorations in every corner. It’s always nice to showcase pieces with particular meaning so you can share their stories with your guests.

What will people do at the party? Is conversation, food and drink enough or do you want something more? “Nothing beats live entertainment,” comments Polsgrove. “A pianist, harpist or solo musician can be a powerful addition to any event. Caricature artists, holiday characters or carolers, even palm or tarot readers can add a lot of excitement,” Polsgrove says. Turn the event into a “giving event” rather that a “receiving event.” Monetary donations to a specific charity is a great way to get in the spirit of the season. Guests could also bring can goods for a local kitchen. Used or new coats, mittens and sweaters are always welcomed by the less fortunate at this time of year.

Above all, have a plan for yourself. It is crucial to be able to enjoy the event instead of working and stressing the entire time guests are present. As the host/hostess, you will set the mood and tone. “Don’t only dress the part, act the part, and you will become the perfect entertainer and also a sought after guest at someone else’s event!” concludes Polsgrove.

So, go ahead and bake some fruitcake this holiday season. You may actually enjoy it.

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