5 Ways to Keep Your Holiday Party Merry

Finesse awkward moments with ease using these smart tips.

avoid awkward holiday moments

Include a straggler. You'd like to invite that stray friend or co-worker but don't want him to feel like a charity case. Try this: "If you don't have plans for Thanksgiving, Mark, we'd love to have you join our family. I've told my cousin you're a big Game of Thrones fan, and she is dying to compare notes!"

Deal with a recently divorced couple. Assuming you're friendly with both ex-spouses, invite both. Let each know when they respond to your invitation if the other person is coming. Then they can decide whether they want to bow out. If that happens, suggest getting together with them on some other day.

Make clear it's adults only. Although you've told invitees that your cocktail party is for grown-ups, a neighbor asks to bring her kids. Suggest an alternative: "I'm sorry, Mary. There won't be any children attending, so I doubt your kids would enjoy themselves. I've invited Jennifer, too. Maybe she'd be willing to share a sitter."

Nudge a tardy responder. Outsource nagging to an online service. Evite, for example, sends reminders to guests who haven't RSVP'd. If that doesn't work, call to gently prod. "Hey, Sue! I just want to make sure you got our holiday party invitation. It's next Friday; hope you can make it."

Make a checklist. When you're the hostess, the keys to staying clam are planning and being prepared. Take a few minutes to write down what needs to be done on the day of the party, starting in the morning and going right up iuntil the doorbell first rings. Don't forget to allot time for getting dressed, and for a bit of pre-party relaxation.