It finally happened.
It’s your turn to host your family’s annual holiday gathering. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned pro or a hosting rookie, the holidays can be intimidating.
However, much like a great recipe, it’s easy when you take it one step at a time. We’ve put together the ingredients to be a holiday hosting hero!
Pencil before pins. Before you go Pinterest-crazy, walk through the evening with a pencil and paper. Ask yourself: how many courses will be served? Will there be appetizers, dessert, or coffee? Are there any traditional dishes that must be served? Will non-alcoholic and/or alcoholic beverages be served? Will guests bring anything? Do any guests have allergies or dietary restrictions?
A crowd-pleasing meal. Once you’ve got your questions answered, select a menu with make-ahead appetizers and easy-to-prepare dishes. Some of our favorites include Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Strawberry Basil Bruschetta, Lemon Lavender Stuffed Chicken, Egg-cellent Frittata, and Bourbon Honey Steak Tips.
Take the guesswork out of portions. Every host and hostess’s worst fear is not having enough food for their guests. Don’t fret. There are plenty of sites out there to figure out exactly how much food and alcohol you’ll need to feed your crowd.
Platters deserve a plan too. Selecting the menu is only the first part of serving the food. What will you serve your meals in? Will it be served family-style, buffet, or plated? Will you need a chafing dish to keep food hot? A few days prior, clean, label, and lay out the serving utensils and plates that will be used.
Make a list and check it more than twice. Save yourself a hosting headache by making a master grocery list including all ingredients, alcohol, serving utensils, and decor. Do an initial grocery trip two weeks out and save a second trip for fresh items, like produce, meat, and cheese for a few days prior.
Create a timeline. Timing is everything when you’re preparing multiple dishes. Make a schedule starting with guests’ arrival time and work your way backwards through your menu. Don’t forget to include last-minute tasks like lighting candles, filling waters/ice buckets, and firing up the playlist along with oven times and meal prep tasks.
Delegate. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; most people want to lend a hand! Why not consider inviting a friend or family member ahead of time to assist with prep? Or when the doorbell starts ringing, you may recruit some early birds. And, if someone wants to bring a beloved dish or tackle a full sink, let them. Hosting doesn’t have to be a one-person job!
Space out the cleaning. Much like cooking, your cleaning tasks can be spread throughout the week. Declutter on Monday, tackle the bathrooms on Tuesday, wipe surfaces on Wednesday, vacuum on Thursday, and complete any finishing tasks on Friday.
Keep the night before open. No one says you have to do everything in one day. Reserve the evening before your big party to make dessert, set the table, build a playlist, and prep whatever foods you can.
Less is more. When it comes to decor, you don’t need to go over the top. Especially, after you’ve spent so much time crafting the perfect menu and cooking. Select a few small, seasonal elements or a nice tablecloth or runner to finish the tablescape.
And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun! You worked hard to pull off this holiday extravaganza make sure you take a moment to relax and enjoy your time with your guests.