Mistakes To Avoid When Entertaining This Holiday Season

The holidays are a magical time of year, but they undoubtedly come with a lot of stress. According to Psychology Today, the holiday season is actually the most difficult time of the year for many. Because of the extra obligations that come with it, hosting a holiday party can feel intimidating, especially if it's your first time foraying into the role of happy holiday host. From food allergies and preferences to the delicate balance of the social and emotional bonds that tie families together, it can feel a little like walking into the lion's den.

However, with just a bit of planning, you can take every possible measure to make sure your party goes off without a hitch, including planning the ultimate holiday menu (via MarthaStewart.com). Here are the most common holiday hosting party mistakes you've never been warned about and how you can prevent making them before it's too late to recover.

Not accommodating dietary restrictions

According to Ipsos, over 9.5 million Americans now adhere to a plant-based diet. Many others struggle with allergies or intolerances to allergens like dairy, soy, gluten, or nuts. If you don't adhere to any particular dietary restrictions for health or ethical reasons, it can be difficult to keep in mind that there are certain food groups some of your guests may not be able to enjoy. Take the time to ask each of your guests about their potential dietary restrictions. If your guest list is long, consider sending out invitations that include a place to write down food concerns along with an RSVP response.

Running out of food or drinks

When planning a party that focuses largely on food and drinks, always overestimate how much you'll need. Plan on providing at least one pound of food for each guest and keep the drinks flowing (via Food Network). Since alcohol is often used to ease into awkward social interactions, you might go through your eggnog, wine, or cocktails faster than you'd expect. Keep backups on hand to help encourage socialization without all the inhibitions, and don't forget a stash of non-alcoholic beverages for the kids and those who lead a sober lifestyle.

Failing to set the mood

Holiday settings can feel a little uncomfortable for people who may not spend a lot of time with their families during the rest of the year. While handing out a few festive drinks can help, don't underestimate the power of the atmosphere. Spend time decorating, baking, lighting scented candles, and playing some holiday music in the background. According to Greater Good Magazine, music can strengthen social bonds. Bonus points if you can throw together a slideshow of old photos or dig up some old home videos to watch with your family members or longtime friends.

Forgetting to creating opportunities for bonding

A holiday party without any direction can become silent and awkward quickly. Have a list of party games on standby, so you can guide your guests into fun and memorable interactions. Play Party Plan recommends group games that will quickly become family favorites, like the candy cane Olympics and a holiday version of the game name that tune. Don't be afraid to go all out and plan prizes or tournaments ahead of time if you know some of your guests are game fanatics.

Not collaborating with your guests

Many holiday parties take a potluck approach when it comes to providing an elaborate yet traditional menu. This is an excellent way to take some of the pressure off of yourself when it's your turn to host. However, make sure that you and your guests plan the menu ahead of time rather than telling everyone to bring whichever dish they like. Unless you want to end up with three batches of candied yams on Thanksgiving and five trays of sugar cookies on Christmas, assign specific dishes to specific guests (via SignUpGenius).