Given the influx of holiday party invites currently pummeling your inbox, it's possible you've become inspired to throw an impromptu soiree of your own. Don't let the blood, sweat, and tears required to plan such an event deter you. Unlike years past, there now exists a slew of sites, apps, and services designed to minimize the stress that often comes with hosting this time of year. Whether it's sending out invitations, seeking out recipes, loading up your bar, or assembling a cleanup crew, these four tools have got your and your guests' backs.
For Invitations: Yahoo Mail
For a happy middle ground between a Google Calendar alert and a Facebook event invite, try Yahoo's new e-stationary collaboration with Paperless Post. The burgeoning Internet company teamed up with the stationary pros on a series of 50 designs (ranging from celebratory flags to miniature elves) that you can insert into your pre-existing email correspondence to your party guests. All you need to do is compose a new email on Yahoo Mail from your desktop, click on the stamp button in the bottom toolbar, choose a design, and—voilà!—your message is instantly transformed into a festive invite, at no extra cost.
Head to yahoo.com to beautify your emails.
For Recipes: Food52
Consider Food52 your own personal assemblage of local chefs and foodies, at your disposal 24 hours a day, 52 weeks a year (hence the name of the site). The recipe-centric portal specializes in finding new, innovative food projects and helping you with your own with its Food52 Hotline, an emergency Q&A service that aims to solve your cooking dilemmas in real time. Currently featured on the site is a recipe for date, fig, and walnut panettone, persimmon latkes, and a story on five useful things to keep in your freezer, if that gives you a taste of just how deep this coterie of chefs really digs.
Head to food52.com to talk food.
For Booze: Minibar
Most people operate under the belief that a party isn't a party without an ample supply of alcohol, and oftentimes the onus is on the host to supply a fully stocked bar—at least until it's time for a refill (or two). But carrying bags filled with heavy bottles up several flights of stairs isn't exactly a desirable situation. Enter Minibar. The alcohol delivery app sends wine, spirits, beer, and mixers to your door to select areas around the U.S. Simply enter your address and order and the requested booze will arrive in under an hour. That's something to cheers to!
Download Minibar for free from the iTunes app store.
For Cleanup: Handy
The worst part about hosting a party is the mess you're left with when everyone heads home. Thanks to Handy, you no longer need to enter crisis cleanup mode as soon as the sun comes up. The app specializes in online bookings for home cleaners and handymen (in case any of your guests actually broke anything)—all you need to do is specify what you need and when you need it, and you can pay the bill via your phone, with tax and tip included. Services range from hanging pictures and shelves to installing light fixtures. What's more, Handy offers next-day availability, so you could feasibly book ahead of time for the morning after your party and wake up to pure cleanliness.
Download Handy for free from the iTunes app store.