So you're throwing a party this holiday season? Whether you've known for some time and are only now getting around to planning it (no judgement: everyone's busy!) or the party throwing got dropped into your lap at the last minute, don't worry. We've got you covered.

Here are some tried and true tips for making the party the best it can be, even if you don't have time to get a roast, marinate it for a day and then cook it for 5 hours.

1. Be flexible

You may have an idea for what you want to serve your guests, but it's the day before Christmas, and you can't be sure the store will have exactly what you need. Better to come up with a few ideas, and then see what's still in stock. Save yourself the frustration!

2. Keep the food easy

Everyone wants to impress, but the last thing you want is a meal that doesn't come together. And no one should be in the kitchen for the entire party, so this is also a great way to ensure that you, the host, also enjoy the party.


Try a baked ham, it's pre-flavored and cooked, so all you have to do is put it in the oven to heat it up. Sprinkle some cranberries around it to make it pretty.

Make some casseroles ahead of time. Whether it's basic mac and cheese, or something a little fancier like lasagna, both can be prepped in advance, and then all you need to do is throw it in the oven.

For appetizers, choose cheese and charcuterie, olives and nuts. Skip the cubed cheeses, which may seem like a time-saver but will undoubtedly register with guests as such. Rachael Ray's advice is to pick up an assortment of cheese wedges and some nice crackers. You'll look like an aficionado.

3. Make a playlist

While the urge to just tune the radio to your favorite station or the TV to the holiday favorites channel may nag you, ignore it. Commercials kill a vibe and too many corny renditions of Christmas classics can get on anyone's nerves, so do your guests a favor. It only takes 15 minutes to put together a mix on your iTunes or whatever music device you like and the affect on guests will be great. They will think you've been planning this for weeks. Mix some classics with holiday carols.

4. Don't skip the decorations

Find a few minutes to swing by Duane Reade or a grocery store. A few well-placed decorations will make it seem like your place is the place to be. Maybe you choose a few red bows, or a santa for the middle of the table, whatever it is your guests will feel in the mood with the help of some visual cues. Some stores are even discounting these items already.

5. Serve sparkling wine or champagne

Cocktails take time to plan and make, and wine and beer can seem a little boring. Add instant classiness and festivity with bubbles.