11 Easy Celebrity-Approved Entertaining Tips to Steal for the Holidays

11 Easy Celebrity-Approved Entertaining Tips to Steal for the Holidays
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The holidays are fun, but when you’re the host of your friend group, they can also be pretty darn stressful. We’re all for having a merry time, but when there are dishes to prepare, tables to set, guests to entertain, and prep to do, it can be a little hard to get into the holiday spirit. That’s where celebrities like Lauren Conrad, Kourtney Kardashian, and Hilary Duff come in. Not only are these stars talented in their rightful fields, but they’re also known for throwing one heck of a party, and luckily, they’re passing down their tips to party-planning plebes like us.

MORE: 13 Mind-Blowing Chrissy Teigen Food Hacks to Try Out Immediately

To make the festive winter months a little less stressful (because nobody likes to feel like a chicken running around with its head cut off at their own party), we rounded up 11 celebrity-approved entertaining tips to make your holiday party-planning a whole lot easier. From genius ways to save money on table decor to how to lessen your cooking workload, check out our list, ahead.

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Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow - Don't Use Tall Table Decorations

Paltrow warns against using tall table decorations, like over-the-top floral arrangements and giant candles, as they can block views during dinner and obstruct conversation. Instead, the actress recommends small vases and scattered flowers to keep the dinner table festive, while still allowing for people to see each other. “I never use big flower arrangements or tall candles, as they get in the way of good conversation,” she told One Kings Lane. “I like to mix and match small, textured vases with casually arranged flowers.”

Photo: Getty Images
Hilary Duff
Hilary Duff - Instead of a Potluck, Have Guests Help in the Kitchen

Because potlucks can feel boring and overdone (especially if your guests are heading to multiple holiday parties a year), Duff recommends recruiting them to help in the kitchen. Not only does the act lighten your workload, but it helps the entire party feel like a community in a different way than if your guests simply brought over a store-bought pie. 

“One thing that I’ve learned is to give people jobs so everyone is involved,” Duff told People. "If I’m serving dinner and making appetizers and stuff, when people are arriving I like to give them little jobs and I think everybody wants that. No one wants to sit there and feel useless so even if it’s like slicing up a cucumber or putting the crackers on a cheese plate or stirring the pot so it doesn’t burn, it’s actually really helpful and it brings everyone together.”

Photo: Getty Images
Olivia Culpo
Olivia Culpo - Bring a Hypeman

When you're busy finishing last-minute touches to dinner, Culpo recommends inviting a social butterfly to entertain guests when you're away. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the Instagrammer said she frequently invites a "hypeman" to break the ice between guests, so everyone is having a good time. 

"Sometimes you need to facilitate conversation by playing a game or having a hype man—you know that friend that can start a conversation with anyone!" she said. 

Photo: Getty Images
Ali Larter
Ali Larter - Have a Cocktail-Making Station

To take stress off herself when hosting a party, Larter featured a make-your-own-cocktail station for guests to mix their own drinks. Her stations typically includes basics like Contreau, blanco tequila, fresh lime, and seasonal fruits and herbs. (Though, she admits it can be whatever you want!)

Along with being a clever way to lighten her workload, Larter touts make-your-own-drink stations as a fun way to incorporate guests. "It’s fun and interactive, while also taking some of the stress off you!" Larter told Haute Living.

Photo: Getty Images
Kristen Bell
Kristen Bell - If You're Using Store-Bought Items, Re-Plate Them

Bell is no stranger to using store-bought food for parties. (She's the first to admit that Whole Foods baked goods taste better than hers.) Though, when she is going store-bought, she advises replating the dishes so they feel more thoughtful. For example, she recommends putting store-bought cheese on a butcher's board with almonds, fig jam, and olives to make non-homemade look just as festive, she told TODAY.

Photo: Getty Images
Lauren Conrad
Lauren Conrad - Use Household Items as Decorations

To save money on decor, Conrad recommends finding items around the house and recycling them as vintage party decor. In an interview with Redbook, she lists old mustard jars and rocks (yes, from her front yard) as items she's used to decorate her tables. She uses the mustard jars as flower pots and the stones (which she uses to write on chalk with) as nametags for her guests.

Photo: Getty Images
Padma Lakshmi
Padma Lakshmi - Prepare Dishes Ahead of Time

It might seem like a no-brainer, but Lakshmi has a good reason to prepare dishes like casseroles (things that stay well overnight) ahead of time. Along with finishing dinner before her guests, Lakshmi also makes sure the table is set so she has no tasks to do and can focus 100-percent on the party.

"Whether you're cooking for two or 20, you want your attention on your guests and not on the million things going in the kitchen. If you have a good time, they'll have a good time!" she told Brides.

Photo: Getty Images
Rachael Ray
Rachael Ray - Ask People to Bring the Things You Can't Make

Though there is a lot of controversy over whether guests should bring gifts to a party, Ray uses the social cue to her advantage. Because there are items that even Food Network hosts have trouble making, Ray recommends asking guests to bring dishes that are difficult to whip up in the kitchen. She also advises to stick to dishes you've made before to not put extra pressure on yourself.

“If you need help and you suck at baking like I do, or you don’t know how to make cocktails, or you don’t have the money to buy cocktails, that’s what you tell people to bring,” Ray told People. “People always say, ‘What do you want me to bring?’ You say, ‘Oh, nothing.’ That’s stupid; just be honest. Tell them.”

Photo: Getty Images
Tiffani Thiessen
Tiffani Thiessen - Designate a Kids' Section

To ensure that kids aren't running around as you're finishing dinner or chatting with guests, Thiessen recommends setting up a designated kids' section—such as a coloring station of a arts and crafts table—to keep them occuppied and "so they're not getting into trouble."

She also advises taking the kids party outside, so the inside party stays pristine and proper. “Lay blankets out on the grass,” she told People, “and let them go to town and be as messy and loud as they want in their space.”

Photo: Getty Images
Kourtney Kardashian
Kourtney Kardashian - Mix Decorations If You Don't Have Enough to Match

Because nobody has time to match every last thing on their dinner table, Kardashian recommends mixing and matching items, such as napkins and placemats, to ensure you have enough for all your guests, while still looking put-together. In an interview with Architectural Digest, the reality revealed this was a trick she picked up from her mom, Kris Jenner.

"I always use my white linen Sferra napkins and placemats, but one trick I learned from my mom is, if there are more people than sets of matching napkins and placemats, you can mix in different patterns by alternating each place setting with a different design," she said. "If I'm having a big party, I'll mix in the striped Missoni napkins above."

Photo: Getty Images
Molly Sims
Molly Sims - Turn Old Wine and Glass Water Bottles into Table Decorations

After finishing a bottle of wine or water, Sims recommends saving the container for gorgeous table vases. In an interview with InStyle, the model revealed that she used old wine and glass bottles as flower vases and candleholders. She also is no stranger to using milk bottles for extravagant floral arrangements either. 

Photo: Getty Images

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  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Hilary Duff
  • Olivia Culpo
  • Ali Larter
  • Kristen Bell
  • Lauren Conrad
  • Padma Lakshmi
  • Rachael Ray
  • Tiffani Thiessen
  • Kourtney Kardashian
  • Molly Sims