There’s no doubt that hosting during the holiday season is a learned skill that gets better with practice. I’ll never forget the first Christmas bash I attempted to throw singlehandedly — I was way too ambitious with the labor-intensive food, the detailed decor, the guest list and the gifts, and the hours leading up to the event can only be described as sheer mayhem. These days, I’m proud to say that I’ve mastered the art by keeping it simple, and I’ve built up an arsenal of tips and shortcuts that are total lifesavers around this time of year. Today we’re teaming up with Keurig Rivo to share some of that hard-earned wisdom with 8 tricks that’ll have you hosting a holiday get-together — and relishing it! Plus, we’re giving away two of Keurig’s amazing new Rivo systems, just in time for holiday gifting. Keep reading for all the details!

*photography by Molly Winters


1. Streamline your holiday decor.

By keeping ornaments and decor to one color scheme, it’s easy to ensure that your home and tree are cohesive and consistent. I committed to a white and silver palette years ago, and mix it up each season by introducing different accent colors like red, green and gold.

2. Wrap as you buy.

Save yourself from gift wrapping chaos by wrapping presents as they’re purchased. Not only does this keep you from cramming last minute, but it allows you to be more laid back and creative with each present.

3. Have freshly baked cookies ready to go at all times.

Make your favorite cookie dough from scratch ahead of time, then freeze it so that you’re always ready to roll it out and bake a fresh batch when unexpected holiday visitors stop by.

4. Wow your guests by being your own at-home barista with the Keurig RIVO system.

Whether guests want a double espresso or an iced soy latte, be prepared to brew the perfect cup at the touch of a button. With this system, it’s never been easier to brew and enjoy authentic Italian espresso in your home.

Enter to win one of two Keurig RIVO systems by leaving a comment on this blog post by Friday, December 19th, letting us know what you do to keep your holiday hosting under control!

*update: winners have been selected, and this giveaway is now closed. 

5. Go for the green.

In lieu of an expensive floral arrangement, keep the table green this year by taking leftover branches from your tree and using them as part of your centerpiece. Fill in with tall taper candles and votive to play with height and add a festive glow.

6. Set a crafty kids table.

Keep the kids entertained with a butcher paper-topped table that makes dinner time a lot more fun. Set out christmas stickers and plenty of crayons for hours of entertainment.

7. Expect the unexpected.

Forgot someone on your list? Not a problem when you keep a few extra gifts on hand that are wrapped and ready to go. Some fool-proof items: scented candles, soaps and lotions, barware and bottles of bubbly.

8. Always be party-ready with a festive holiday playlist.

At the start of the season, arrange a playlist that’s perfect for a holiday gathering (or simply bookmark ours on Spotify!). When guests drop by, all you’ll need to do it press play to get the party started.


  1. 1
    Ella | December 16, 2014 at 8:53 am

    I swear by wrapping as you buy! Get it doneee

  2. 2
    Katie Meyers / Meyers Styles | December 16, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Great holiday reminders, Team CS! Especially love the “wrap as you buy” rule, which (though I can’t say I’ve been perfectly successful) I’ve been trying to follow all season long. Happy Holidays.

  3. 3
    Vanessa @ Living in Steil | December 16, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Great tips! Wrapping as you buy is a very good idea (and will save you a lot of time in the end!), as is keeping a few extra gifts on hand.

  4. 4
    Wendy | December 16, 2014 at 10:55 am

    These tips are very helpful! Thank you so much! I’ve been wrapping as I buy and realized that I would have not had enough wrapping paper! So glad I started that early!

  5. 5
    Kelsey (@alittlerosemary) | December 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Great tips- and thanks for the playlist- I’m definitely planning on using it for my party this weekend!

  6. 6
    Lynn O'Driscoll | December 16, 2014 at 11:47 am

    I really like the wrapping as you go tip. I keep my holidays simple, but having easy appetizers on hand for drop in company and having an awesome hubby who is willing to help out with anything!

  7. 7
    Abby Thrasher | December 16, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    For the holidays I like to make sure I have enough wine, spirits, and hot cocoa on hand. Baked treats are a must for the kiddos and cheese and fruit are favorites as well.

  8. 8
    Celestine Winch | December 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    We get a lot of overnight guests starting before Thanksgiving and ending after the New Years Day. And my husband and I are a well oiled machine. We tag team the chores like flipping a guest room, sharing the cooking and shopping, and deciding how to entertain the never ending stream of guests. It’s great having a partner that knows what needs to be done and never has to be asked; without him I’d be drowning in a sea of laundry.

  9. 9
    Alyssa P | December 16, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Don’t commit to cooking too much! Holiday recipe overload is so real with Pinterest, but making so many things from scratch is too overwhelming.

  10. 10
    Heidi | December 16, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    I staTy my shopping early and buy a little at a time. I make sure to keep a list of what was bought too!

  11. 11
    Bri DePauw | December 16, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I start shopping early and always have a running “to-do” list!

  12. 12
    Anne Jensen | December 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Easy appetizers and a signature cocktail have made our holiday party much more manageable. Plus we got a little tree to prevent our one year old from pulling it over!

  13. 13
    Robin | December 16, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I am doing some “meals in a jar” this year. Some to use when things get busy for me and others to use as gifts. Every time I have some extra time I’m making up as many as i have time to make, and making duplicates – one to put on the shelf and one for the gift basket. That way I always have a gift if needed…. Stick and piece of fabric and a bow on it and there is a wonderful gift for someone! So I can help to ease their holiday stress as well as giving a gift that I’m sure will get used, Even if they pass it on!

  14. 14
    Samantha Lee | December 16, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    To keep the holidays under control:
    I always wrap as I buy! I want those presents stacked under the tree ASAP. 😉
    When people start showing up, I have Christmas music playing (no awkward silences) and put drinks in their hands STAT.
    Keep it simple and let others help! If I’m cooking dinner, I let others bring the wine and dessert. If I’m hosting a whole lot of people, I have wine and cheese instead of a full meal.

  15. 15
    Molly Cover | December 16, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Cookie dough in the freezer a few good cocktail recipes seem to do the trick for me!

  16. 16
    Halie Beckham | December 16, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Great tips! I’ve been wrapping as I buy this year. Has definitely relieved last minute stress. Would love to perfect my barista skills with a Keurig Rivo!

  17. 17
    Nicolle | December 16, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    If Im hosting a holiday party I have the table set the night before! Great Giveaway

  18. 18
    Martha Aguilar | December 16, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    I always assemble before hand several outfits for the most important holiday parties and gatherings I know for sure I’ll be attending, that takes a load off my back.

  19. 19
    Aimee | December 16, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Every year I make a signature gift – I try to start in the summer when I’m on vacation (I’m a teacher) and then just work out the fine details of packaging and the Christmas card as it gets closer to the holidays. No stress about gifts when it comes to the entertaining.

  20. 20
    Deirdre | December 16, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    My husband and I host 12 of our closest family members each Christmas. The first year was a bit rocky, because I was overwhelmed and a bit unprepared. This will be our third year hosting, and I’ve learned that the deep cleaning and table setting need to be done at least 3 days in advance. The light cleaning, dish designating and food prep all happen the day before. I also was forced to remind myself that hosting doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy myself, so I put on happy music, dress up nicely and enjoy the present moment.

  21. 21
    Courtni | December 16, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    I bribe a sister or two to come over and do the dishes as I cook – put some music on and we have always have a good time!

  22. 22
    lisakmc8711 | December 17, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Love these ideas, especially the one about having the gifts on hand.

  23. 23
    Rachel Brown | December 17, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Lovely tips! I like to follow Ina Garten’s make ahead timeline so I stock up on pantry items in advance and shop for fresh produce the day before an event.

  24. 24
    Candice | December 17, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I sware by the same cookie plan – and it works! When my parents surprised us by dropping in a few days early this weekend, they were greeted with homemade chocolate chip cookies and it was relaxed rather than stressful!

  25. 25
    turqandteale | December 17, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    I embrace the crazy and just try to enjoy being with family and friends! Everything won’t be perfect, but that’s ok! Great coffee sure helps too 🙂

  26. 26
    Elise | December 18, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Making sure guests feel at home and can help themselves to whatever they want really takes the pressure off!

  27. 27
    K Marchetti | December 18, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    We threw a Christmas Party last weekend and decided last minute to ditch all the cutesy, holiday appetizers we had planned (like Grinch Kabobs). Entirely too time consuming for feeding 60 people, and honestly I don’t think people even noticed!

    Baking cookie dough ahead of time is brilliant, wish I had thought of that! Thanks for all the fun tips so keeping the stress out of our holidays!

  28. 28
    Mary | December 19, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Always have a sweet treat ready to share. There’s nothing better than welcoming an unexpected guest into your home with a scone, gingerbread man or slice of coffee cake. And of course, a warm cup of coffee from the Kuerig Rivo! With these, you’re sure to have a stress free afternoon with friends by the fire. Also, around Thanksgiving I make a holiday potpourri mix that I can easily put in a pot on the stove and add water. Oranges, cinnamon sticks, cloves and cranberries smell wonderful simmering on the stove when guests are over. With a bit of pre planning and keeping my ideas simple, the holiday’s are relaxing and everyone is smiling!

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