Jumping aboard the holiday party hosting train? If you ask us, there鈥檚 no time like the present to start planning your big bash 鈥 spanning from we鈥檝e-been-planning-this-since-Halloween to I-decided-to-have-friends-over-in-two-hours. Regardless of whatever camp you fall into, you鈥檝e come to the right place. With the help of Barilla, we鈥檙e bringing you the only party planning guide you鈥檒l need this December (and January!).

Here鈥檚 your first tip: Once you鈥檝e got your menu planned, the rest is pretty much a breeze. Pasta is the jack of all trades 鈥 it鈥檚 well-received at both formal and casual affairs, affordable and easy to prep, and people generally go nuts over it. Along with our go-to party prepping tips, we鈥檙e bringing you 10 tasty pasta recipes to debut at your shindig. Check it out!

SO YOU鈥橵E GOT 2 HOURS TO PLAN

It happens. NBD. We鈥檝e got tips and tricks galore to help you keep your hat on for the next 120 minutes. Let鈥檚 go!

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Bust out a pasta bar. Meet the pasta bar, AKA the answer to procrastinators鈥 prayers. Set out all of the ingredients for your guests to make their *own* dinner. (They鈥檒l be happy they can customize it, anyway!) Cover your table in brown kraft paper (or wrapping paper?!) and use a black marker to label each dish. It will look way fancy, but will only take you five minutes. Want inspiration for how to build the bar? Check out Barilla鈥檚 nifty pasta recipe builder.

Opt for the group text invite. The jury is still out, but many say the group text is the most efficient way to invite friends to festivities, no matter how much energy you put into planning. Skip the fancy evite this time and go straight for a detailed text 鈥 maybe sent with a GIF 鈥 to invite all your pals to the last-minute bash.

Make it BYOB. Or BYO-Bar-Cart-Accoutrements! Have the cocktails of the evening be determined by what everyone brings and save yourself a time-consuming trip to the liquor store. How else would you and your friends have discovered that whiskey, cherry juice and root beer is actually pretty tasty? ;)

Grab paper plates and napkins. No fancy china on hand? No problem. There are some pretty adorable paper plates and napkins out there these days that will do the trick.

Let a guest be the DJ. There鈥檚 always that one friend who鈥檚 stoked to be handed the AUX cord. Let them fuss over the party鈥檚 soundtrack so you can put your attention on other things.

Those extra string lights? They鈥檙e your party decor. There are tons of ways to decorate with string lights, and they somehow magically look good no matter how you display them.

Not feelin鈥 the pasta bar? Try these other quick, crowd-pleasing pasta recipes:

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  • Spaghetti Carbonara: AKA breakfast pasta! OK, no one else calls it that, but they should 鈥 all you need is bacon, eggs, pasta and Parmesan. Is your mouth watering yet?
  • 5-Ingredient Butternut Squash and Farfalle Alfredo: The amount of time it takes you to say the recipe鈥檚 full name is basically equivalent to cooking time. The butternut squash and sage combo make聽this dish feel *super* fancy, and we鈥檙e likin鈥 it.

SO YOU鈥橵E GOT 2 WEEKS TO PLAN

Congratulations! Two weeks is *plenty* of time to whip together a memorable, fun and 鈥榞ram-worthy celebration. Scroll on for our favorite prep hacks to get this party started.

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Make rigatoni with Brussels sprouts. And saut茅ed apples and onions and walnuts and bacon. NOM. This recipe takes around 45 minutes to make and it鈥檚 somehow the perfect blend of healthy and hearty.

Plan a game to play at the partay: When done right, a party game can really make the evening. Suss out your invite list (are they mostly introverts or extroverts?) and choose your entertainment accordingly 鈥 we鈥檙e partial to the ever-classic charades, but why not bust out a good round of freeze dance?

Make a holiday punch. Psst! This is your Instagram-worthy moment. Make a delicious *and* photogenic winter punch for your friends to sip on by the fireside 鈥 or by the heater :)

Buy some decor, but also utilize what you already have. We鈥檙e looking at you, excess ornaments. Like string lights, these joyful bulbs look great wherever you display 鈥榚m, so why not deck out your serving table with them too?

Tack on a festive dessert recipe, like gingerbread bowls. TBH, it鈥檚 kind of a bummer that gingerbread is only socially PC (SC?) to eat around Christmastime. Take advantage of gingerbread season with this epic gingerbread bowl recipe, topped with no-churn spiced pear ice cream and caramel sauce.

Try these other bomb.com pasta recipes:

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  • White Bean Pasta e Fagioli: You guys, this is PASTA SOUP! Can you think of anything more comforting to eat in the colder months? This is our go-to when we鈥檙e craving pasta but want a lighter dish. Whip up a big batch for your winter dinner party for some real happy guests.

SO YOU鈥橵E BEEN PLANNING SINCE HALLOWEEN

First off, you deserve a standing ovation. We鈥檙e impressed! Even though you鈥檝e probably been dreaming about this party鈥檚 details forever, maybe we can give you a helping hand.

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Try an unexpected entree. Enter the Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Lasagna Terrine, a course of an entirely different color. This may look like a lasagna, but it tastes way more gourmet. The lasagna pasta sheets and creamy Alfredo sauce bring in quintessential Italian flavor profiles, while the saut茅ed beet greens and goat cheese give it a contemporary and delightful bite. This is one full-flavored dish your guests will definitely remember.

Get fancy with the tablescape. It鈥檚 time to go all out! Pick up real flowers, borrow some fancy dishware and go with a festive, glittering table runner. Holiday baubles and miniature trees look just as good on your dinner table as they do on your mantle, and they鈥檒l add to the Winter Wonderland effect you鈥檙e looking for.

Hand-make the invites. Time to break out those burgeoning graphic design skills! After mastering one of our illustration or lettering online classes, wow your friends with a homemade holiday invite (or evite!). Who can say no to a personalized invitation?

While you鈥檙e at it, make homemade goodie bags. Because every party-goer deserves a fiesta memento too. We鈥檙e big fans of dip-dyed canvas bags 鈥 you can buy these cloth bags in bulk for cheap, then paint them with watered-down fabric paint or acrylic. Fill each with a sweet treat, a trinket and a thank you.

Make a custom party playlist. TBH, there鈥檚 no better way to get you into the festive spirit than a DIY playlist. Go the extra mile and make it on a music-streaming app, then share the playlist URL with your guests. This counts as a party favor too! :)

Whip up these other pasta recipes for the big night:

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  • Beef Broth With Greens & Orecchiette: Beef broth was *made* for those cold winter nights, and the orecchiette and poached egg bring it to a whole new level. Don鈥檛 tell anyone, but you can actually make this elegant dish in 20 minutes flat.

And just like that, you鈥檝e planned your party! That wasn鈥檛 so hard, was it? :)

What are your go-to winter party tricks and recipes? We want to hear! Share with us on Twitter @BritandCo.

Production + Styling: Maddie Bachelder + Shannon Righetti

Photography: Chris Andre