‘Tis the season of food, drink, and merriment. Personally, I can’t wait! Hosting holiday gatherings is one of my favorite things to do and there’s no shortage of opportunities to host one at this time of year. I love the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family over a beautiful meal in a well-decorated space. But, of course, entertaining at this time of year can be just as stressful as it is joyous! Today, I’d like to share with you a few of the holiday entertaining tips I have learned over the years that allow me to be fully present and enjoy the memories being created. Whether you’re planning a large holiday party with all of your friends or a sweet, intimate gathering with just close family, these tips will help make the holidays festive rather than frazzled!
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
The key to any successful event is in the planning and preparation, so it’s important to give yourself enough time to get ready and not have to rush at the last minute. It doesn’t all have to be on the day, either! Set up for the party as much as you can the night before. Make sure the table is set and your décor is ready. Choose a menu that has foods you can prepare ahead of time to make things easier on yourself on the actual day. There are plenty of crowd-pleasing dishes that can be prepped the night before and popped into the over when guests arrive. For example, mashed potatoes, baked pasta, and dinner rolls. Cleanup will be split between the two days as well, which is especially helpful if you have an open-plan kitchen, dining, and entertainment area. This will also allow you to take an hour or two before your guests arrive to get yourself ready for the party. Plus, the smells of cooking will fill your home with warmth!
Keep it Simple
It’s easy to get excited and ambitious once you immerse yourself in Pinterest boards focusing on holiday entertaining, but the key is to keep it simple and stress-free. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on style! Focus on your table and your meal. You can cozy things up in an easy way by adding a few lit, unscented candles to your space and creating easy-to-assemble centerpieces. If you’re trying to stay within a budget, shop your own house for table decor. Pull those brass candlesticks off your bookshelves and borrow candle holders or lanterns from your mantle to make your table shine!
Perfection is Not the Goal
Of course you want to show your guests how much they mean to you by showing that you’ve made an effort to make them feel special. However, remember that overall, your guests will feel as comfortable as you feel calm. They’re also there to spend quality time with you, so enjoy these moments together. Celebrating each other and the holiday is the point of the gathering. Relax and appreciate the community and the meaning of this special season with those around you who matter most.
Include Something for Everyone
A great way to make guests feel welcome is to show that their personal preferences have been catered to. Check with them ahead of time about dietary restrictions as well as possible allergies and phobias, then plan a well-rounded menu that makes everyone feel special and welcome. If you know someone has a favorite dish, it’s always fun to include it!
The beauty of the changing seasons is reason alone to celebrate at this time of year. So why not bring some of that natural beauty indoors by weaving organic elements into your décor? Foraging for fresh foliage is a fun activity as well as a more eco-friendly way of decorating your table. Search your yard and neighborhood for holly, cypress, pine or magnolia tree clipppings. Weave eucalyptus or pine branches into your chandeliers for a heavenly scent. Use those holly clippings to spruce up a basic evergreen wreath. Add a festive ribbon, and hang them over mirrors, headboards and on your front door. There are lots of opportunities to get creative with Mother Nature!
Serve All Night
If hosting events for years has taught me one thing, it’s all about pacing yourself. When you start with cocktails at 6 but don't serve food until 8, someone’s going to be donning a lampshade by 9:30! To balance the wine, beer and cocktails, make sure there is ample food available for guests to snack on throughout the entire evening.
Nothing says the party's over like picked-over serving trays. Prepare some refill trays ahead of time and swap them out when needed.
The Dishes Can Wait
The holidays are all about spending quality time with your closest friends and family. So remember the number one rule of hosting: relax and enjoy yourself. There will be plenty of time for cleaning after your guests have left. If you find yourself sneaking away to clean up, make a point of sticking around to be part of the fun instead!
Happy holiday hosting!