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6 Holiday Hosting Hacks: How to be the Best Host This Season

The most wonderful time of the year can also be one of the most stressful, especially if you're the one who has volunteered (or been selected) to host holiday season festivities. Hosting can be a challenge, whether it's for your office Christmas party, serving Thanksgiving dinner for 30+ relatives, or simply inviting a few friends over for a mid-December gathering.

We've done our share of hosting - here are Mattress Firm's favorite hacks to make your gathering a seasonal success.

1. Create a hot chocolate “bar."

The Mattress Firm team knows the best kind of party food and drinks are the kind that your guests can assemble themselves. Lay out mugs and spoons -- it's fun if they don't all match -- then fill a few mason jars with a simple base cocoa mix. Next, fill several bowls with a variety of toppings like marshmallows, crumbled graham crackers and cookies, and small candies. Put a bowl of whipped cream at the end and, voila! It's an activity, a drink station and a conversation starter all at once.

2. Add a third rack to your oven.

It's happened to all of us – the rolls need longer in the oven than expected, or the pies get cold, or something else goes wrong because you can't fit everything in the oven at once. A simple trip to your local hardware store could help. Plan ahead and buy a tiered-rack, which enables you to fit an extra level of food in your oven, and hopefully help everything be warm and ready when it's time to sit down.

3. Consider the kids.

Will any of your guests be under the age of 10? One of the best parts of getting together at the holidays is to have multiple generations in the same room, but sometimes it's difficult to keep or sustain their interest in what everyone else is doing. Especially if you're only expecting a few kids that might not be able to entertain themselves or each other. Mattress Firm has a good trick to keep the kiddo complaints to a minimum: try to have a few easy activities ready to give them once their attention starts to wander. A few activity books and a set of crayons could go a long way in making sure everyone – children, their parents, and other guests – have a great time.

4. Upgrade your photo booth.

We've all seen photo booths at parties in recent years – they often include a simple backdrop and a basket full of cute or interesting props. There are several tablet and smartphone apps that can transform a device you already have into a photo booth. Up the interest level at your holiday party by framing it as a “holiday card station," adding props with seasonal greetings. Your guests can print out their cards and trade them with each other, or mail them to friends and family that couldn't make it to the party.

5. Brighten up your decor with Christmas lights.

Christmas lights are one of the most recognizable holiday decorations, so much so that you might not even notice them on the roof or in the bushes when you pull up to the party host's home. Make your strands of lights stand out by putting them in unusual places, like along a table runner, around the front door, up the bannister, or wrapped up in mason jars that are used as centerpieces. There are hundreds of places in your party space that could be brightened up – be creative!

6. Don't overdo it the night before.

The most important advice of all is to relax – this is supposed to be a season of fun, not one that makes our lives more difficult. Take care of yourself amidst the party planning – and that includes getting enough sleep. You're not going to be your best self, and you won't enjoy the fruits of all your hard work, if you don't take the time to get enough sleep the night before your big event. So plan to get comfy on your Mattress Firm mattress and go to bed early. A well-rested host is definitely going to put on a much nicer party than one who stayed up too late and is now cranky or falling asleep in the gravy boat. Have guests staying at your house? Make sure your guest room is well-furnished with a comfortable bed so they can enjoy the party just as much as everyone else!

Happy hosting!

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