It’s that time of year when the calendar seems to magically fill up and the hours in the day tend to slip away. Ah, yes — the holidays are upon us! And while they certainly come with their fair share of stressors, hosting holiday gatherings for friends and family doesn’t have to be one of them. Here’s a holiday hosting guide full of our favorite tips for gatherings that are sure to be joyful, celebratory, and anything but stressful!
1. Plan ahead
When it comes to holiday hosting, it’s never too early to start planning. Decide on your menu well ahead of time so your grocery shopping doesn’t have to be done at the last minute. (Grocery stores get picked over often during the holiday season, so planning ahead will ensure you’ll have plenty of time to pick up the ingredients you need without having to race around town to multiple stores on the day of your event.) If cleaning needs to be done at your house, tackle that early. And go ahead and set your table(s) the day before. Anything that doesn’t have to be saved for the last minute should be knocked out early!
2. Prep ahead
While some last-minute tasks are unavoidable, cooking is the last thing you want to be doing when your guests are enjoying themselves. Prepare as much of the food ahead of time so you can greet and visit with your company when they arrive, and make sure all of your chopping and prep work — including the gathering and washing of dishes you’ll use to cook and serve — is done ahead of time. It’s also smart to label things so that you know exactly what food goes where.
3. Share the burden
Just because you are the host doesn’t mean you have to cook and prepare everything yourself. Chances are, your guests expect to contribute to the meal. Any side dish or dessert you can delegate to a guest will save you time and stress — just communicate your requests with plenty of advance notice so that your guests don’t feel bombarded during this already-busy season.
4. Don’t over-commit
If cooking isn’t really your thing, then don’t commit to making a five-course meal. Instead, serve easy-to-make hors d’oeuvres and desserts from the bakery — or have no shame in catering the whole thing. The important thing that your family and friends are together during the holidays; the food details are largely secondary.
5. Set the mood
The host of the party sets the mood for the event, so if your mood is welcoming and comfortable, your guests will feel welcomed and comfortable, too. To create an inviting atmosphere, turn on some music and light a few candles.
6. Have realistic expectations
Going into any hosting occasion with realistic expectations is the key to a successful event. The food doesn’t have to be perfect, and your tables don’t have to picturesque. When the time comes, the laughter and smiles from your guests will be all the affirmation you need that you hosted a night they’ll always remember fondly.
With these holiday hosting tips, you’re all set to host a stress-free, joyful event as the host with the most!