How to throw together a stress-free holiday party in just 20 minutes

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Let’s be real—those Pinterest holiday party how-to’s may look like a good idea, but who really has time to cut out a dozen individual snowflake place cards or whip up a festive 18-ingredient punch?

Indeed, for most of us with busy careers and a standing date with SoulCycle, having friends over is usually less “cocktails and canapés,” more “wine and hummus from the store.” But according to Erin Falconer and Geri Hirsch—the Los Angeles-based founders of wellness-driven lifestyle site LEAFtv—there’s a lot you can do in just 20 minutes to throw an on-the-fly party that still feels special.

Their number-one rule? “Our life philosophy is always be prepared,” says Falconer. “It’s important not only for a surprise get-together, but for your general mental well-being. But having said that, there are a couple of fun tricks that can make an impromptu gathering at your house a blast rather than stressful.”

With their tips, you officially have no excuse not to spend more time with those who make you happy—socializing is good for your health, after all.

Scroll down for their expert advice throwing a seriously memorable party with just 20 minutes of prep time.

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Easy holiday party food and drink ideas

10 minutes: Prep the refreshments

Part of being prepared means always having a bottle of Champagne or prosecco chilling in the fridge, say Falconer and Hirsch—it really doesn’t get any quicker (or more fun) than popping the cork and pouring.

But that’s not all you can do in a flash. “For added festive flair in the drinks department we love a ‘kitchen sink’ sangria—chop up the fruit you have in the house, and add it to wine and sparkling water,” says Hirsch. (Having a sober shindig? The LEAF ladies recommend serving ginger beer with a spritz of lime—something else you can stock up on in advance.)

As for food, Hirsch and Falconer like to keep it simple. “A good charcuterie and cheese board and an assortment of nuts cover all your bases, from the carnivore to the vegan.” To make your spread a little healthier, choose non-dairy cheeses—you can find nut-based cheeses at pretty much any health food store now.

Easy holiday perty decorating ideas
Photo: Instagram/@leaftv

5 minutes: Speed-clean

Falconer and Hirsch are big believers in keeping your place perpetually tidy, so when you do want to have friends over you don’t have to spend ages scrubbing and polishing. “A cluttered space is a cluttered mind, so take the time everyday to make sure your living space is clean, presentable and doesn’t suck energy—but rather gives it to you,” Falconer says.

If you do that, a five-minute speed clean is totally possible. “Clear the clutter first, stock the powder room with fresh towels, fluff the pillows, and do a surface wipe-down of any area where guests will be hanging,” suggests Hirsch. “You can also change the energy of your space with a little scent therapy—burn a little palo santo stick or boil a cinnamon stick in shallow water on the stove for 10 minutes.”

easy holiday party decor ideas
Photo: Instagram/@leaftv

5 minutes: Style your space (and yourself)

When it comes to decorating, Falconer and Hirsch say to just use what’s around you. “Pick things from your yard for a quick bouquet—we even love a selection of branches as a centerpiece,” says Hirsch. (Don’t have a yard? Cut through the park on your way home). “The palms in Erin’s front yard or the herbs from my edible garden have saved us on more than one occasion!”

Getting dressed should be just as easy. “We like to subscribe to the Steve Jobs methodology: Have a uniform and you’ll never be stressed to dress,” says Falconer. “Currently on repeat are high-waisted vintage Levi’s, black turtlenecks, and a statement heel or a simple pump with a statement earring. And for make-up in a hurry, we’re loving really clean, dewy skin, very simple eye makeup, and a bold lip—think Kosas’ ‘Darkroom.’” Not sure about you, but that’s a look I’d be willing to ditch my leggings for (even the ones that could totally be worn to a holiday party).

Have a little extra time to cook? Your guests will flip over these purple sweet potato pie bars and this healthy take on a pumpkin spice latte. And check out these party makeup tutorials that anyone can master. 

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