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Party Planning Online


By Elizabeth Wasserman

The holidays are always a hectic time of year. Knowing this, Kimberly Notarianni decided to take full advantage of the Internet to streamline the planning of her annual holiday cookie exchange. She signed on to Evite to send her invitations and keep track of RSVPs. She even set it up to automatically generate thank-you notes after the gathering is over.

"It makes everything so easy," says Notarianni, a mother of two from Fairfax, Va. "Every time someone responds, I get a notification in email. On the day before the party, the site will email a reminder to everyone. And when the party is over, I can upload pictures and send them with the thank-you notes."

The Internet has made party planning a snap. Here's how you can get in on the action.

Pick a theme
When it comes to holiday get-togethers, the web offers festive suggestions for themes. "You could do 'fantasy and frost' with all snow and ice decorations," says Phyllis Cambria, who with partner Patty Sachs runs PartyPlansPlus.com and co-wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide to Throwing a Great Party. "You can also do a wooden soldier theme from Babes in Toyland," Cambria says. "Or you can do a '50s sock hop in a Jingle Bell Rock theme."

Real Simple magazine (realsimple.com) offers suggestions ranging from a cheese party that only takes an hour of prep to a sit-down dinner featuring beef Bourguignonne or a dessert buffet with Rugelach and Panettone bread pudding. Better Homes and Gardens (bhg.com) suggests throwing a party called "Surf's Up Santa," with Hawaiian shirts and seafood, or you can take your lead from the classic movie It's a Wonderful Life and do vintage trimmings like roast turkey.
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