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Life Lessons: Holiday party-planning tips from the pros

Published On: Dec 12 2013 04:00:00 AM CST

Life Lessons Holiday party tips

Barbara Lazaroff, wife of Chef Wolfgang Puck, has hosted all kinds of events. She says a great party starts with you.

First comes the decor.

"You have beautiful things you have collected over the years, and use them on your table," says Lazaroff.

You can fill up vases with your favorite ornaments and use wrapping paper and ribbons to dress up your table setting.

Lazaroff's collection of ceramic shoes become soup bowls during the holidays.

Next is the food.

Try giving simple favorites holiday flair: a cheese platter can become a Christmas tree, popcorn turns festive, donuts are transformed to snowmen, and the classic pigs in a blanket can be arranged like a wreath.

For drinks, plan three bottles of wine for every four people.

To make a party memorable, have everyone write a letter with a wish for the coming year. Place in a sealed envelope and mail them to your guests with next year's invites.

And don't forget about budget.

On average, 18- to 34-year-olds spend $310 on a holiday party, while those 55 and older spend about $780.

The last tip: try not to stress!

"Don't be intimidated; after all, it's your friends!" Lazaroff said.

Here's another good tip: don't attempt top-to-bottom housecleaning before your party.

Focus on the rooms that guests will be in most and close the doors to others.

But make sure you give special attention to your bathroom, as that's the one room guests will examine and judge the cleanliness of your house by.