9 Tips for Holiday Hosting
Oh, the holidays. What a wonderful time of year. (No sarcasm, promise.) It’s the perfect time to get together with friends and family that you haven’t seen in a while (perhaps on purpose). It’s also the time of year when hugs are aplenty, but so are emotions.
If you’ve ever planned a holiday dinner, you know exactly how much stress is involved in putting on the whole holiday production. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned pro, here are a few tips to help you seem like the host with the most.
There’s nothing wrong with a casual dinner paired with a few bottles of wine. However, if the party is as dry as the wine you serve, you’re not going down as the best host ever. So get creative. Try new things. Plan a themed menu; make a featured cocktail; encourage costumes; play a simple game at the table … The way you make your party memorable isn’t the point — making it memorable is.
If you run out of wine, it’s easy to send someone on a booze crusade to grab an extra bottle or ten — as long as the store is open. But the one thing you can’t send someone out for? Extra time. This is an easy fix though, just plan ahead and do as much as you can the night before. Prep your food, rearrange your dining room, bring out the fancy flatware, and make sure there’s enough ice in the freezer. Anything that can be done ahead of time, should be.
It’s quite easy to get completely hysterical just minutes before the guests arrive. You’ve been preparing for hours, you’re only halfway through chopping the carrots, pots are boiling over, kids are screaming, and the dog just had an accident in the living room. Your mood sets the tone for your party, so what’s a host to do? Some suggest red wine, but if that’s not your thing, just take a few deep breaths and tackle each task in order of importance. Stay calm and your party will go off without a hitch — even if you don’t have time to make that twenty-seven-layer dip.
Who’s the boss? You’re the boss. If someone is in your house, guzzling your wine coolers, snacking on your homemade ladyfingers, they can probably wash a dish or two. Don’t be scared to ask. Delegate to those closest to you, and you’ll be able to keep things running smoothly. Plus, it’ll give you a little extra time to spend with your guests as you entertain.
Keep things simple.
Does your cheese board really need two types of Gorgonzola, Janice? No. Put the cheese back and opt for a simpler spread. Simple doesn’t mean boring, however. With a touch of elegance, plan a menu that is equal parts delicious and simple. This will make sure things run smoothly without any huge hiccups. The last thing you need is a fallen pumpkin spice soufflé when a pumpkin pie from Trader Joe’s could have easily passed as home-made.
Plan your playlist.
You know what’s worse than awkward silence? Nothing. But what’s second worse is a bad playlist at a dinner party. When it comes to music for your dinner party, curate a casual playlist of music that doesn’t rock the house down, or make you feel like you should be swinging glow-sticks around and giving out hand massages on the couch. Most streaming music services like Apple Music and Spotify have playlists created just for dinner parties, all you have to do is search ‘dinner party.’
Perfection isn’t necessary.
You’re not Martha Stewart, ok? If your tablecloths aren’t pressed and starched, the show will still go on. The number of people who will notice that you peeled your celery sticks is probably less than zero. And your mother-in-law is probably the only person who will notice that you don’t have a centerpiece. But she showed up in Crocs so … relax. Things don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to enjoy the party.
Save the dishes for later.
Leave ‘em. Seriously. There’s nothing wrong with doing a quick tidy after dinner, but post-dinner mingling is usually the best part of the party. So save the full-on dishwashing event for later, grab that last cocktail, and go mingle. Plus, once things start to wrap up, you can use the dishes as a way to get guests who are overstaying their welcome out of your house.
Our 9th and final tip? You do you.
This is your party, and you can cry if you want to. You can get hysterical if you want to. And Janice, if you really want a 19-cheese spread, go ahead. What good is having a party if it’s no fun for you? If the host isn’t happy, the guests aren’t either, which usually leads to over-imbibing and someone offending your sister’s partner … again. So crack a smile (and a bottle of something) and enjoy your party the way you want to.
Still not ready for the holidays? Check out our Holiday Gift Guide to make sure you’re set.