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Five simple ways to make at-home hosting easy and fun

(BPT) - Hosting a party, dinner or event in your home can be a lot of work, no matter how much you enjoy celebrating with loved ones and friends. You...

(BPT) - Hosting a party, dinner or event in your home can be a lot of work, no matter how much you enjoy celebrating with loved ones and friends. You deserve to enjoy yourself at your own party and some creative shortcuts can help you do just that.

'The thought of hosting often stresses people out, but having a party doesn't have to be a huge ordeal,' says Kristina Vanni, award-winning chef. 'To ensure you enjoy the festivities as much as your guests do, there are simple ways to streamline the process.'

Here are some tips for taking the hardest work out of party preparations:

* Plan it: Make your shopping and invitation lists well in advance, and create a short written schedule that includes what you'll serve, when and where. Of course, you'll need to be flexible for any last-minute surprises but having a basic game plan for how the day will progress can spare you a lot of stress.

* Clear it: Get your kitchen ready by cleaning out the pantry and refrigerator. You'll have a lot of groceries, plus guests may bring dishes and treats so you'll want to ensure there's plenty of space for food storage and staging.

* Simplify it: Sure, you'll probably be making the main dishes yourself, but there's no shame - and plenty of convenience - in letting professionals take care of the appetizers and desserts. Save yourself time and tantalize your guests' palates with appetizers and desserts from Hickory Farms. Choose from their selection of fine cheeses and sausages, fruits and nuts, and delectable sweets. You'll wow your guests when you serve delicious specialty foods like their new Artisanal Dry Salami and Natural Cheeses, plus you'll save time on prep work. You can find the array of products at one of their seasonal Holiday Market stores or year-round at select retailers. However, if you can't make it to the store, place your order at and they'll deliver right to your doorstep.

* Decorate it: Don't feel as though you have to overwhelm yourself by covering every square inch of your home in decorations. Some well-placed, quality items can elevate your home's atmosphere without taking too much of your time and energy.

'There are so many things right in your own home that can work as surprising yet tasteful decorations,' Vanni says. 'For example, a winter scarf on the dining room table makes a beautiful runner and children's mittens serve an interesting and conversation-worthy utensil holder.'

Next time you're planning a party, don't look at it as a daunting task. With some creativity and a little simplification, you'll get through every party you host with your sanity intact and you'll impress your guests.

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