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Tips for easy holiday entertaining (with Kirklands #HolidayHostess!)

Thanks to Kirklands for sponsoring this post, and forcing me to consume large quantities of hot cocoa.

It’s the holiday season, y’all! We all know what that means: calories stop counting and you don’t need an excuse to gather friends around mugs of steaming cocoa and warm fireplaces. I LOVE IT. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

(I learned this weekend that broken cookie pieces don’t contain calories. The breakage of the cookie causes calorie leakage. #Science.)

We had some friends over recently and I used the excuse to set up a little holiday party table, where sugary substances can gather to be consumed with abandon.
How to set up a Christmas party table
I used to become a wild, crazy person anytime we were having a party. I had to prepare 65 different foods, scrub UNDER every rug and along all baseboards, and have everything perfect before we could open the house to anyone. I always hoped that frazzled, exhausted look was working for me when guests arrived, but I suspect it did not.

Now, I’m all about EASY parties so we can stress less and connect more. (And I can have more opportunities to beat my friends at Taboo. I will welcome you warmly into my home so that I may destroy you in the game of Taboo.)

Here are a few of my favorite ways to make entertaining simple and low-key for the holidays:
Christmas Party Ideas - Tips for low-stress holiday entertaining!

Pick a color scheme and run with it

Even if nothing else is matchy or well-decorated, I try to pick one or two colors for the food table, and it makes it look like I know what I’m doing. I grabbed this glittery striped garland from Kirklands and laid it on top of a plain white sheet as my tablecloth.
Use garland as a tablecloth to create a pretty party table!

Create one “signature” drink

I made a simple fruited punch in this pretty mason jar-style drink dispenser:

Sparkling Christmas Punch

  • Bottle sparkling apple cider
  • Equal parts lemonade and cranberry juice (For “grown-ups,” Replace lemonade with champagne.)
  • Frozen raspberries

Mix it all together! Couldn’t be easier. (Click here to pin in the recipe: )
Recipe for red fruited Christmas punch in a mason jar dispenser!

The red echoed the rest of the colors and the dispenser situation made serving super easy – no need for punch bowls and ladles that always spill the drink over the side of your cup, causing the dreaded sticky-cup-sticky-hand disaster. You know what I’m talkin’ about.

One or two festive decorations go a long way

Seriously, you guys — this coffee filter wreath has been with me for YEARS. It is a loyal friend which works in any situation. It’s a perfect simple base on which you can add any ol’ embellishment – this time I popped a snowflake ornament in the center – and it’ll help things feel decorated.
How to set up a Christmas party table
Here’s where I used it in my Christmas mantel a few years back:

Fun containers make all the difference

Fact: it feels 65 percent more fun to eat out of a pretty container than the store-bought one. I poured our hot chocolate mix and some GINORMOUS marshmallows into this mason jar set and suddenly the hot chocolate tasted better.
Hot chocolate bar for a Christmas party (plus fun, easy holiday entertaining ideas!)
(I won’t even mention how much fun Andy and his friends had trying to play the “chubby bunny” game with the oversized marshmallows. We keep things classy around here.)

Keep the end goal in mind

How often do you go to a get-together at a friend’s house and think, “This party has been fun, but I would’ve had MORE fun if it had looked more professionally decorated or the food would have been more elaborate.” Never, right? NO times.

This is what I’ve learned: who the heck cares? It’s all about getting together, laughing, and beating people at board games. A hastily thrown-together party with store-bought food and no decorations beats NO party 100 percent of the time.


But you’ll never regret making some apple pie dip. YOU GUYS. I found this recipe at Seeded at the Table, popped it in this chips and dips bowl with cinnamon pita chips and had to keep myself from eating it by the spoonful. (I like this dip because it’s good warm, cold or lukewarm.)Apple pie dip with cinnamon sugar pita chips
I won’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you there were certain small people in our house who didn’t seem to mind having some party foods within reach.
Kids sneaking cookies at holiday table

Looking for some epic holiday entertaining tips? Make sure you check out the other Kirklands Holiday Hostess bloggers today: Making Lemonade, Two Twenty One and SAS Interiors.

How ’bout some free Kirklands gift cards!

We’re giving away TWO gift cards valued at $100 each via the rafflecopter below! Fingers crossed for you! Don’t forget to use ’em in combination with Kirklands’ new K club rewards program to get rewards on what you spend with the gift cards!
Christmas Party Ideas - Tips for low-stress holiday entertaining!

Now let’s hear it!

What are your best tips for easy holiday entertaining? Want to come over and play Taboo? I’m just asking, innocently.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S.: Today kicks off the annual holiday housewalk at! I’ll be sharing my house tour Thursday, but you can head over now and check out the house tours that are up today.

I received compensation for the “Holiday Hostess” campaign blog post. Kirkland’s partnered with several bloggers like me to raise brand awareness. All purchases and content are on my own accord and reflect my personal opinion and style. Kirkland’s blogger outreach policies abide by the WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. For official Kirkland’s giveaway rules, visit

Let's connect


  1. Heather Malotke says:

    Your table is so pretty! And, because of this post, I just may take “scrub baseboards” off of my holiday party list (it’s there, for real!). And those marshmallows? My 6 year old thought she died and went to heaven when we found those! 🙂

  2. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    Love the set up and a twitter chat tonight 😉 You are going all out!

  3. It’s amazing how perfect that red and white stripped garland is at setting the color scheme tone. And I’ll take ginormous marshmallows any day of the week!!

  4. You didn’t invite me? But when I set up my Kirklands spread, I’d pick six sets of those freaking hysterical Elf Bootie chair legs.

  5. Heather Malotke says:

    I forgot to mention my favorite Kirkland’s product . . . I’m loving mercury glass this year, so I’m going to say the mercury glass snowflake votive holders.

  6. Your table looks great Kelly and you have some great recipes there that I’d love to try, especially that drink! Chat with ya tonight 😉 xo Jenna

  7. They have some damask desk organizer options that I could use!

  8. While you tips are great, I think Weston’s face makes this post. 🙂

    I have tweeter chatted in a long time. Maybe I’ll join if I’m free this evening!

  9. Holy smokes, Kelly…that dip?!? It does look amazing and I’m so going to make it today! Yum!!! The table looks amazing, too, by the way! Great job and thanks for the fab giveaway! 😉

  10. I love that mason jar drink dispenser! So classic

  11. Jennifer G. says:

    I love Kirkland’s glass candlesticks!

  12. Michelle Nollner says:

    Stunningly beautiful! I love Kirkland’s and you have done a wonderful job with some of their amazing decor pieces!

  13. I really need a tree skirt because right now I’m using a blanket….fail. I really love the burlap tree skirt!

  14. I love the ornament garland!

  15. I totally want to come to one of your parties, it looks so festive! I haven’t played Taboo for awhile, I used to love that! Why don’t I play it? I’m going to have to find our game. I’m with you on the less work, more fun motto for hosting! And I’m going to go around my house today breaking every cookie I can find. Hopefully that exercise alone with the no calories science means I’ll have a negative calorie deficit and actually lose weight. HA! xoxo, Sharon

  16. I found you on Pinterest just last night, read a few of your blog posts, and I’m obsessed. This morning, I placed an order on Kirkland’s. Thanks for introducing me to that company! I think you just knocked off the top of my favorite blog pile.

  17. Those mason jar drink dispensers…swoon! Your table looks fantastic and that apple dip, yum!

  18. I love all their snowmen decorations! They always win in my book.

  19. Great tips! I officially challenge you to Taboo! It’s on!

  20. Love the hot cocoa station! Very cute! (And I love Kirkland’s!)

  21. I love it! I have a faithful wreath friend too- mine is a wreath foam covered with rope, and I accessorize it for each season! 🙂

  22. Love the red/white combo. That Mason Jar dispenser is awesome!

  23. I am loving the new #Science behind broken cookies! Who knew? 🙂
    Love the party suggestions. They are all fantastic!

  24. I love your new attitude about entertaining. My trick is to entertain at night, turn the lights down low and light lots of candles….everything looks better in candlelight 🙂 ….or twinkling Christmas tree lights! Your cocoa/drink station – and your model! – are adorable and that apple dip looks yyyyyummmmy!

  25. When I come over for your holiday party and you can’t find me… I’ll be at the “champagne/punch” station 🙂

  26. Great tips! I love Kirkland’s holiday canvas art with the LED lights. So festive and fun!

  27. Your table is so gorgeous! I love those giant mason jars (and marshmallows!) and all of your yummy treats. See you at 8! 😉

  28. “A hastily thrown-together party with store-bought food and no decorations beats NO party 100 percent of the time.” I needed to hear that! Thanks! And for Apple Pie Dips recipe!

  29. I happen to be quite good at Taboo as well. I sense a showdown! And some boys might just have “make cocoa station” on their advent calendar for tomorrow, so I paid particular attention to that part of your spread :).

  30. I want those huge mason jars! who am i kidding…i want everything!

  31. I’m going to quit work now so that I can make some coffee filter wreaths. Oh, and eat some of that danky apple dip whilst crafting.

  32. I have that same mesh but never would think to use it for a table top! Genius!

  33. Ginormous marshmallows for the win!!!!!!

  34. AWESOME!

  35. Alicia in Lucas says:

    Merry Christmas Candy Cane sign – outdoor

  36. It looks great, simple is always the way to go! I agree that the pretty containers automatically kick things up a notch 🙂

  37. I love the damask slipper chair!

  38. I’m in the market for an area rug. The 8 x 10 Campbell Black & Cream Floral Area Rug really caught my attention!

  39. i’ll have some of that apple dip with the peacock feather chargers!

  40. anissa (an) gooch says:

    Always make a few minutes for yourself before the company comes over.

  41. I really like the black spiral coat rack – so tough to choose though!

  42. I went to the Kirklands site and am crushing on the ‘Eleanor White Chest’! It will look divine next to my bed as my night stand. Maybe Santa will bring it!

  43. Crystal Sweet says:

    I really want the Poinsettia Ribbon Wreath!

  44. Love Kirklands. Thanks for the chance to win.

  45. I really like the Green Diamond Print Table Lamp. Thanks so much for the giveaway!

  46. Love the classic red & white color combo! Looks amazing!

  47. I love their holiday decor…think I’m gonna have to go with their snowmen!

  48. I used to work at Kirklands, very part time as a second job. I liked it but I spent too much money! I love Kirkland’s stuff and I was just there today…though I resisted buying anything.

    Also, I feel I could give you a run for your money in Taboo! Especially if my mom and I get to be on the same team.

  49. Helena Dias says:

    Great ideas. Thank you for sharing

  50. I love the decor! I also LOVE the beverage dispenser!! its so cute!!!

  51. So cute! I love Kirkland’s!

  52. atlantagalknows says:
  53. Great giveaway!!! :):):)

  54. Love this blog, I hope I win this giftcard! Early xmas pres to me!


  56. I love this setup! Perfect for a holiday gathering! I may have to do something similar for my annual craft night next week! 🙂

  57. So cute! Love the drink station 🙂

  58. Diana Smith Hill says:
  59. I love the chevron shade on!

  60. Love the Mason Jar Drink Dispenser, everyone else does too since its sold out online 🙂

  61. I love the holiday punch! I can’t wait to make that for my ugly sweater party next week!

  62. I love your table and found this at a perfect time as I have a Christmas party planned with game night and hot chocolate 🙂 I wish I could overcome the crazy party pre-cleaning! Anyways great giveaway! I love the burlap Christmas centerpiece on Kirklands website

  63. I like Kirkland’s glass candlesticks!

  64. I like the Taupe Plush Bubble Bath Mat

  65. How do I pick just one – I ADORE Kirkland’s and so happy to see this drawing! But I’d have to pick the Light Up Nativity Scene.

  66. Tracie Trump says:

    Lovin the mercury glass, my fb is T Michelle Trump and my email is

  67. Very pretty!! 🙂

  68. Sherri Fristoe says:

    I love your wreath!!

  69. Monique Rizzo says:

    I like the damask slipper chair.
    Thanks for the chance.

  70. Gorgeous set up…apple pie dip sounds great.

  71. LOVE that mesh from Kirklands!

  72. your table looks awesome! I <3 kirklands…been lusting after the bird & leaf floor lamp for a while now

  73. I love Kirlands! They have the best pictures and mirrors. I love the lighted Christmas presents!

  74. I love the Nature Walk Santa Framed Art Print. It would be perfect with my Old World Santa collection! Very few things at Kirklands that I don’t love and want!

  75. Jennifer C says:

    I really like the Mason Jar Flatware Caddy.

  76. So many wonderful things to choose from but I really like the Rustic Wooden Reindeer
    Item #: 120800. Thanks

  77. Love Kirkland’s mirrors!! Thanks for the giveaway!

  78. Darlene Carbajal says:

    I like the Aqua & Chocolate Flower Sketch Shower Curtain.

  79. Rebecca Graham says:

    I like the Natural Wood Armoire Mirror at

  80. I love the Blue Luster Glass Pendant Light.

  81. Holly Thomas says:

    I like the Gold Leaf Holy Family Statue.

  82. I love the Red Stoneware Baking Dish

  83. I love the Metallic Dots Plaque, Set of 2.

  84. Christine Waddell says:

    I love the free standing Christmas stocking hanger.

  85. Jennifer Reed says:

    An item I really like from Kirkland’s is the Over The Door Jewelry Armoire.

  86. I haven’t played Taboo in years. I used to love it. I will have to schedule a holiday/game night with friends soon. And I want to try that dip…it sounds amazing!!

  87. I really like the “Cheval Jewelry Armoire Mirror” Thanks for the giveaway!

  88. I love the Blue Sweet Olive Dinner Plate and all the other matching pieces in assorted colors.

  89. Melissa Wilson says:

    i would get a bunch of candles.. they are my weakness!

  90. Cathy French says:

    I like the Fleur-de-lis 6-Candle Runner

  91. i like the Mason Jar Pine Arrangement

  92. tina reynolds says:
  93. I love the Mini Stoneware Pie Plates, Set of 4

  94. kim burnett says:

    I love the Bronze Triple Basket Floor Rack

  95. I love the Oatmeal Linen Tufted Storage Bench. It’s gorgeous and functional!

  96. I like the Wood Cream 3-Door Media Cabinet

  97. Annemarie Z. says:

    I love the Abundance of Joy Framed Art Print!

  98. I would love to have the Colette Antique White Venetian Mirror

  99. Susan Smith says:

    I like the Poinsettia Ribbon Wreath, 36 in

  100. Kimora 8-pc. Queen Comforter Set
    Thanks for the contest.

  101. golden storm says:

    I like the Pine & Eucalyptus Ornament Wreath

  102. i love the serena khaki queen headboard

  103. Denise Donaldson says:

    I like the Sparkling Medallion Candle Holder, Set of 3

  104. Christy Colln says:

    tortoise full length mirror thank you!

  105. Thanks for another informative site. Where else could I get that type of information written in such a perfect approach?
    I have a challenge that I’m just now operating on, and I’ve been at the glance out for such info.

  106. I like the Cobalt & Cream Stoneware Baking Dish, Set of 4

  107. Julie Smith says:

    What wonderful tips! I swear, I used to do the “frazzled” thing, too, but as I’ve gotten older, I don’t sweat the small stuff – I love how simple little things can make it all pull together without hours of work beforehand! One of the items I love at Kirklands is THIS bookcase (currently on clearance – I think I might have to splurge for myself):
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  108. I like the spiral coat rack.

  109. Cherry Blossom Velvet Berber Throw Blanket

  110. Jennifer Speed says:

    My favorite is the Thomas Serta Java Convertible Storage Sofa

  111. Great tips and recipes.

  112. Terry Cross says:

    I love the San Marco Walnut Electric Fireplace!

  113. Their Poinsetta Ribbon Wreath is really pretty

  114. Vikki Billings says:

    I really like the Red Twist Mercury Glass Charisma, Set of 3

  115. Love, love, LOVE this scheme!!!

  116. Richard Hicks says:

    one fav product is Meditating Buddha Dolomite Statue
    Item #: 125500

  117. The Brown Damask Parsons Chair is my favorite!

  118. I like the Normandy Black Bonded Leather Convertible Sofa.

  119. What are the exact mesurements for the punch it looks so yum!

    • Thanks! I just dumped a whole bottle of sparking apple cider (it comes in a wine bottle-looking container) in the dispenser, then kept adding equal amounts of lemonade and cranberry juice until I liked the red color I got. I think it would taste delicious with any proportions! I probably used about half a two-liter of lemonade, and about that much cranberry juice, if that helps at all. It’s a pretty flexible recipe, hard to mess up!

      • Gorgeous!! I’m going to try the punch!! It seems the champagne would replace the sparkling apple cider not the lemonade am I correct? Thanks!


  1. […] at View Along the Way added a classic red and white color scheme to enhance her holiday spread. Hot chocolate stations […]

  2. […] Ending on: 12/06/2013 Open to: United States Enter this Giveaway at View Along the Way […]

  3. […] Punch Recipe. Tips for easy holiday entertaining (with Kirklands #HolidayHostess!) – * View Along the Way * Thanks to Kirklands for sponsoring this post, and forcing me to consume large quantities of hot […]

  4. […] Tips for Easy Holiday Entertaining [stress-free party tips} […]

  5. […] time I had a serious Pinterest win. Click here for the recipe for this kid-to-adult party punch […]

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