Whether you’re hosting the big family get-together or a small gathering for friends, holiday hosting doesn’t have to be stressful. With proper planning and execution, your family and friends will find themselves knocking on your door every holiday season. Take a deep breath—you can do this!
Send invites ahead of time
No matter the size of your shindig, it’s important to figure out a date, time, guest list, and menu. Whether you’re hosting a sit-down dinner or cocktail party, it is courteous to provide your guests with at least a 2–3 week notice; calendars fill up quickly around the holidays. Plus, the more notice your guests have, the more likely it is they will offer to bring a dish or two. Don’t turn down offers for help—just because you’re doing the holiday hosting doesn’t mean you have to do it all.
Make a list of cooking times
Making a delicious, full homestyle menu can be simple. Find recipes for appetizers and desserts that can be made a couple of days in advance and knock those out ahead of time. For those inevitable day-of dishes, prepare a list of cooking times so your oven will be on an efficient schedule. Save yourself an hour before the party begins to finish up any last minute things like lighting candles and filling up the ice bucket—or kicking your feet up and sipping on a cocktail.
Speaking of cocktails, no one wants to spend their own party mixing drinks. Set up a self-serve beverage station in another room and let your guests help themselves. Stock it with both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, an ice bucket, cocktail napkins and glassware.
Know Your Audience
For a cocktail party, some light holiday music can provide the perfect ambiance. A gift exchange can make for the perfect (and simple) activity for everyone to enjoy. If kids are going to be there, make sure to have appropriate beverages and prepare a game or two. Queuing up a holiday movie can work wonders for groups of small children.
This one is the most simple tips of all—enjoy yourself! The holidays are a time for laughter and joy, so don’t forget to have a little fun with your holiday hosting.
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