Hosting holiday gatherings is one of my favorite things to do. I love the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family over a beautiful meal. Whether you’re planning a large party with all of your friends, or a sweet, intimate gathering with close family, entertaining this time of year can be as equally stressful as joyous. Today, I'd like to share with you a few of the holiday entertaining tips that allow me to be present and really enjoy the memories being created.
Give Yourself Plenty of TimeSet up for the party as much as you can the night before. Make sure the table is set, and your decor is ready. Prepare food ahead of time to make things easier on yourself the day of the party. There are plenty of crowd-pleasing dishes that can be prepared the night before and popped in the oven when guests arrive including mashed potatoes, baked pasta and dinner rolls. This will allow you to take an hour or two before your guests arrive to get yourself ready for the party and the cooking smells will fill your house with warmth.
Keep it SimpleFocus on your table and your meal. Cozy things up by adding a few lit, unscented candles to your space and create centerpieces that are easy to assemble. If you’re trying to stay within a budget, try shopping your 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 GoalOverall, your guests will feel as comfortable as you feel calm, so enjoy these moments. 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 EveryoneCheck with your guests ahead of time about possible allergies and phobias, then plan a well-rounded menu that makes everyone feel special and welcome.
Highlight NatureThe beauty of the changing seasons is reason alone to celebrate. Bring some of that natural beauty indoors by weaving organic elements into your décor. 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.
Serve All NightIf 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 throughout the entire evening.
Refill OftenNothing 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 WaitThe holidays are all about spending quality time with your closest friends and family. Remember the number one rule of hosting: relax and enjoy yourself. There will be plenty of time for cleaning after your guests have left.