As the most hospitable time of the year approaches, having the essentials on hand for small gatherings and larger soirees will help your holiday entertaining flow seamlessly. Don’t be the stressed, frazzled host who is frantically trying to set out the food and drinks as your guests arrive. Instead, follow these tips to throw a flawless holiday celebration, no matter the size.
Find the Focus
Whether you’re hosting a casual get-together with close friends, or a larger-scale soiree, the most essential aspect of being a gracious host is to help your guests feel welcome. Forget about impressing your guests, and shift your focus to ensuring your guests are comfortable, can relax and enjoy good company, food and drinks.
Create a Timeline
To avoid last-minute rushing, create a timeline of how you want your day to unfold leading up to your guests’ arrival. Then, work backward, factoring in how long it will take you to get party-ready when the food needs to go into the oven, when the wine needs to be uncorked, and when the ice needs to be set out. Don’t forget to include an extra half hour to give yourself time to take a moment to yourself before everyone arrives.
Plan in Advance
Being prepared is the best way to minimize hosting stress. For example, have the shopping completed several days prior, schedule the cleaning service the day before, set the table the evening before, and pick up fresh flowers the morning of the party, and use the rest of the day to tie up loose ends, and set out everything you need.
Set the Scene
When hosting, the overall ambiance is what your guests notice first. Ensure the walkway up to your front door is well-lit, and take into consideration that your entryway is the first impression your guests will have upon entering. The entryway should make a statement from a visual perspective and have a spot for guests to sit down or set down any items they carried in. Next, select a seasonal scent to set the mood. Remember that the lighting plays an essential role in the overall ambiance. So, dim the overhead lights and turn on your accent lighting. The music will set the tone for the party, so don’t leave this to chance. Have several playlists ready to go before the first guests arrive.
Outsource Where You Can
Outsourcing the heavy lifting can make hosting infinitely easier. Employing a grocery delivery service will reduce the number of trips to the store, hiring a catering company to prepare and serve the food will eliminate the stress of food preparation and timing, and renting the china will let you have a beautiful table presentation, and then be able to return it. And, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Tap Into Nostalgia
The holidays are all about nostalgia and happy memories. So revisit some seasonal favorites by incorporating fun holiday staples. Create an elevated hot chocolate bar, complete with your favorite spirits and toppings, or comfort food with a twist, such as lobster mac and cheese or caviar topped deviled eggs.
Keep Last-Minute Essentials On-Hand
If you’re known to host last-minute gatherings, ensure your pantry and bar remain stocked with the essentials. Keep your favorite charcuterie board essentials available, such as your favorite meats, cheeses and seasonal fruits in the refrigerator, and olives and nuts available in the pantry. Keep the wine refrigerator stocked and have fresh garnishes on hand for your signature cocktail.