Look, it’s December and even if you’ve buried yourself in work, there is NO escaping the barrage of semi-obligatory ‘get-togethers’, gift exchanges and family (chosen and non) brunches, lunches and dinners. This series is about surviving this month of extremes and over indulgences.

Now I’m no expert in psychology, sociology, gift-wrapping or party throwing, but I’ve been around long enough to know how to have a gay old time no matter what the holiday season throws at me. And let’s face it, if you’re not having a good time, what’s the point?

To start with then, let’s take a look at hosting your own little soiree. Didn’t plan on doing that this year? If it’s been three years since the last holiday gathering at your place then believe me, it’s YOUR turn to host. Your friends and family will start to grumble a bit if you never have them over and this is as good a time as any.

There are a few simple rules to follow:

1. Keep the food and drink simple
Don’t worry about cooking a six-course gourmet meal -- unless that’s your thing. People will be content with some nice appies and a few drink offerings. I usually offer up a big cheese ball with crackers, a plate of veggies and dip and a hot offering like spicy meatballs or spanokopita (spinach & cheese triangles). These offerings are all easy to make yourself, BUT even easier to pick up at your local supermarket … remember, keep this easy. I actually really enjoy shopping at The Real Canadian Superstore for this stuff during the holidays -- their selections are amazing and will fool even the snootiest foody in your gang! Don’t forget a tray of baked goods, which can also be bought but are so much fun to prepare on your own … think simple shortbread, truffles and some sugar cookies.

Even simpler: have it catered! This is a city booming with wonderful chefs ready to wow your friends. Check out Little Luxuries for some super sexy offerings.

2. Keep your numbers manageable. In a city like Vancouver, very few of us have big homes ideal for entertaining more then a dozen. If you simply must have everyone over, then make your event an open house. Set aside a four to five hour window in the middle of a weekend afternoon, or make your own evening "happy hour". 

3. Be sure you set an end time. Your guests will appreciate this too. This is a busy time of year and some evenings will see the most popular of us double and triple booked … give your guests an easy out.

4. Do not play Christmas music. Believe me, we hear enough of this everywhere we go … we all deserve a little break. If you just have to play your Barbra Streisand or Boney M. holiday albums then go for it, but please, change it up. I like an easy mix of jazz and chill-out tunes. It helps to keep the party volume down, and your neighbors -- if you don’t invite them -- will appreciate this.

5. Put fresh hand towels in your bathroom. Nobody wants to wipe their hands on your bath towel -- come on now. Another nice touch is a pine or cinnamon candle; just don’t overdo it or use cheap dollar-store finds. Investing in a high-end soy-scented candle will keep you smiling right through to Valentine’s day!

And finally,

6. Don't stress! You should spend your party time visiting and making your guests feel welcome and entertained, not running in and out of the kitchen or cleaning up all the time. Just follow the above rules, take a deep breath and practise your holiday cheer.

Remember to read: Has Christmas become too gay? 

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