Go small: Don’t feel obligated to invite everyone you know. Select four to six of your favorite people and invite them for dinner. No need to decorate beyond what you normally do, and you can even order take-out for the meal. Remember, the goal is to get together and have fun.
Use a restaurant: Invite people to your favorite neighborhood restaurant, letting them know that appetizers and the first couple of drinks are on you. If you want, arrange a private room or reserve a preferred table. Choose a weekday so your group can stay as long as they like.
Semi-cater: Warehouse club stores and many grocery stores offer frozen appetizers and pre-prepared or customized party trays. Make your selection, balancing sweet and savory, indulgent and healthful, so there is something for everyone’s taste.
Ask friends to help: See if a couple of your close friends will come early to help you prep and set everything up for the party. They can also watch for empty cookie trays or veggie dips that need a refill. This gives you some time to enjoy your guests as well as managing the party itself.
Choose a theme: Focus the food on a couple of things such as wine and cheese or holiday cookies. Plan a project such as decorating the tree or going caroling. Build a gathering around a favorite holiday movie or television special and provide food that fits the movie’s approach. Keep it simple and it will be fun.
Above all, remember that the holidays are about coming together to enjoy each other’s company. Don’t worry about “getting it right.” Instead, plan a party that you will enjoy, and chances are your friends will enjoy it too.