3 step guide to throwing a holiday party and not going nuts

Between the recipe planning, the shopping, the cleaning—oh the never-ending cleaning!—and the crafting (which inevitably ends with you hotglue-ing a pinecone to your pants), it’s no wonder that every holiday party ends with you holed up in the pantry, drinking Moscato straight from the bottle.

And then there are those parties you have to attend. According to Consumer Reports, during the three-month-long holiday season, Americans spend an average of 15 hours attending holiday shindigs. Even worse, a quarter of people polled said they usually spend up to 20 hours feigning interest in conversations with their coworkers over passed appetizers.

So how are you going to host a fete that leaves your guests excited to come a-wassailing again next year without ending up so shell-shocked that “Little Drummer Boy” sends you straight into the fetal position?

Not by putting out a veggie tray and calling it a night. Please, your friends are athletes—they’ll have picked that tray clean in 20 minutes, and by hour two they’ll be eyeing the family dog as a potential source of protein. At the same time, you’re an athlete too—and wouldn’t you rather be working out than combing Pinterest for ways to sculpt root vegetables into a nativity scene?

The answer to all your party woes is to call a caterer. But if hiring a caterer sounds scary (and expensive), don’t worry—FN has you covered with tips from local party pros.