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Yes, you were just at the beach a few weeks ago. We know you haven’t even carved your first pumpkin of the season, put on your warm sweater or gone apple picking yet. But, believe it or not, early autumn is the perfect time to begin arranging your holiday celebration.

At Robert Ryan Catering & Design, we are party planning pros and know how to make your holiday soiree successful. With 24 years of experience as the premier event specialist in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, we can take the stress out of your holidays and make your event the most memorable of the season.

Read on as Bob Ryan, our founder and CEO, shares some top tips for hosting a holiday party that will be the talk of the town for years to come.

Date Book: Think Outside the Box

Friday and Saturday nights are the most popular times to host a party, and most weekend evenings will book up fast. Consider hosting a Sunday brunch event for something new and different. Another possibility is to hold your party during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Bob shares, “Many businesses close down during the last week of the year or people take time off from work. You can host a party any night that week and your guests will most likely be available.”

Set the Date, Then Communicate

The holiday season is always busy. If you want your event to be well attended, the first key is to get the party date on your attendees’ calendars. Ideally, you should send out save the date cards at least two months in advance; your guests will be impressed by how on the ball you are. Plus, when other invites come rolling in, your guests will already have your party on their calendars. More formal invitations should be sent approximately one month prior to your party date.

Big Flavors, Small Bites

It can be stressful to host a large party in your home. We know that not every setting is equipped for a sit-down meal and that it can be difficult for standing party-goers to socialize if they are struggling to cut portions while holding plates and beverages. Bob shares, “If there isn’t room for seating and your guests’ hands are full, they won’t be able to engage meaningfully with friends. Needing to use a knife at a cocktail-style party just isn’t conducive to socializing.”Rather than limiting the number of guests on your list to fit your space, miniaturize your menu. For example, for a brunch-themed party, add a small layer of maple syrup to a 2 oz. wide-mouthed jar, then top with a mini pancake, fresh blueberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Every forkful will be delicious, and your guests won’t even need a knife. Other crowd-pleasing ideas for miniaturized party foods include veggie-packed frittatas baked into 4 oz. mason jars and fun-sized Chesapeake Bay jumbo lump crab cake sliders.

Give Yourself the Gift of a Stress-Free Gathering

Robert Ryan Staff PhotoSure, you are the queen (or king!) of hosting memorable holiday bashes, but let’s get real—you deserve to enjoy your own party. Don’t be shy about hiring help to execute your soiree—that’s why caterers like us exist.Consider leaving your cooking, serving and cleanup needs to the professionals. Lock in a team that will ensure your party is a success. Then, what’s left for you to do? Greet your guests and entertain the masses with your charm—after all, you deserve to let loose too.Robert Ryan Catering and Design plans and executes over 400 events each year, boasts a five-star rating on WeddingWire and has received WeddingWire’s Couple’s Choice/Bride’s Choice Award seven years in a row. Learn more about Robert Ryan Catering & Design and tour our venues. Subscribe to our e-newsletter for exclusive offers, up-to-date news and recipes from our executive chef.Ronna Dewey