Holiday entertaining can feel overwhelming to even the most seasoned host. Between shopping, cooking, cleaning and decorating, it can feel like there’s no time left to enjoy the festivities. But with a little time management and some creativity, having friends and family over to celebrate can be fun again.

A holiday hostess is always looking for ways to sweeten her holiday entertaining. “Make the season a success by reinventing holiday traditions,” says entertaining expert Cathy Riva, founder of Manhattan-based Riva Events and host of Discovery Home Channel’s Party Girl. “If you normally provide all the food for friends and family, try having everyone bring a favorite dish this year. It will cut down on preparation time while allowing guests to show off their cooking and baking skills.”

Riva offers more advice on how to put the fun back into hosting during the holidays.

• Use a holiday gift card or tag for a festive and inexpensive way to designate seating and make everyone feel special without blowing the budget.

• Plan to provide a meatless entree alternative for vegetarian guests. Always provide a few interesting, non-alcoholic drink options and lastly, create a more healthful take on some of those favorite holiday recipes by substituting Splenda No Calorie Sweetener for sugar in your cooking and baking.

• Visit for a one-stop-shop for gifts, kitchen supplies and hosting materials.

• Heat up some apple cider with some cinnamon, clove and oranges for a delicious drink and get your guests in the holiday spirit right when they walk in the door.

• Dim the lights or light candles to provide a friendly, cozy atmosphere. (ARA)

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