10 TIPS ON HOSTING
FOR THE HOLIDAYS
I absolutely love hosting friends and family around the holidays (and throughout the year, of course) but I know how much work it can be when you add it on top of everything else life has going on! Hosting can seem like an awesome idea while you’re sitting around with friends/family discussing it, but as the date gets closer, it can easily become daunting and overwhelming. Having a solid plan as early as possible will keep your stress level to a minimum and you’ll spend more time getting excited to have everyone over. With that being said, I wanted to share a few of my favorite tips to help you enjoy your hosting event as much as your guests will!
1. MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE
First, I like to make a list of the dishes I’m going to make. Can’t forget about a few things: A nice appetizer (my go-to is a charcuterie board), a signature drink and a dessert! Once I’ve got the menu figured out, I go old-school and pull my recipes, type out all of the ingredients I’ll be needing for the big day and the temperature / amount of time each dish takes to cook.
2. GET YOUR
OUT AHEAD OF TIME
Once I’ve gone to the grocery store and done all of my shopping, I like to come home, reference my menu / ingredients and then gather my platters and serving dishes I know I’ll be using. Then, I set out all of the ingredients per dish onto each specific serving dish (except for the refrigerated stuff, obviously.) I know this seems a bit excessive, but this saves me a TON of time on the day of the event on looking for certain platters.
Timeline: In my opinion, this is the KEY to hosting so that everything magically is ready at the same time. Joe makes fun of me for typing my timeline all out but there’s nothing worse than being at someone’s house and each dish comes out at all different times and holds up the entire meal for everyone. A little planning and timeline can fix this problem. Figure out what time you want to sit down to eat and then work backwards. Oh, and don’t forget to account for meat needing to rest or certain dishes needing to be done in order to make the next part… i.e. – turkey gravy with the giblets)
4. CALLING ALL SPOONS!
It is inevitable that even though you'll have your serving platters ready for the dishes you're going to make, your friends and family will bring their side dishes and will ALMOST always need to borrow a serving spoon of yours. I always like to find all of my serving spoons, salad tongs, giant forks, etc... cleaned and in a large jar so guests can grab which they prefer when they set their dish out.
5. SET UP A DEDICATED DRINK STATION WITH YOUR SPECIALTY COCKTAIL OF CHOICE
Set up a dedicated beverage area. I’ve learned from years of hosting that it’s all fun and games when you decide to have a “signature cocktail” for your event until you become the bartender all night long. NOT FUN. I’ve gotten around this by making a bulk batch of the signature drink into one of my beverage dispensers and just leaving anything with carbonation off to the side for guests to add as a topper when they serve themselves.
- Beverage dispenser or large pitcher ready to go
- Clean glassware and set it all out
- Any ingredients that don’t need to be refrigerated can be set out
6. HAVE YOUR GUEST BEDROOM READY JUST IN CASE!
I like to have our guest bedroom ready at all times when I know I'll be hosting. You can do this in advance and just close the door knowing it's good to go. You never know if someone will end up staying the night or maybe if its Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, someone will want to take a little siesta after your feast.
7. HAVE 90% OF YOUR TABLE SETTING READY THE DAY BEFORE
Set the table in advance. Well, most of it. Everyone has those friends or family that show up 15 minutes early and they will always offer to help. This is where they come into play. I like to get my centerpiece and place settings in place, but I love to have one place setting completely done and everything else in stacks in case someone wants to help.
8. SET ASIDE WHAT YOU'LL NEED FOR AFTER YOUR MEAL
Anyone else ever host and send people home with leftovers but then wonder why you no longer have any Rubbermaid containers left?! ME. Problem solved once I went to GFS a few years ago and stocked up on to-go boxes. It really is great to have a stack set aside so people can go home with left overs. I also love my beeswax food wraps to cover any sauces and to wrap up smaller items that don't need their own container.
9. START WITH
A BLANK SLATE
I read this somewhere years ago and I’m telling you, it’s engrained in my memory now. Always make sure your dishwasher is completely empty and your trash has been taken out before guests arrive. I even like to set extra trash bags underneath the clean bags I put in so if guests happen to offer to help at the end of the night, they don’t have to rummage through cabinets or the pantry trying to find empty trash bags.
10. IT'S GO TIME!
The day has arrived! If guests are arriving at noon, I tell myself the house and all prep work (including getting myself ready) needs to be done by 11:15. If they are coming over at 6pm, I’m good to go by 5:15. Now listen… this doesn’t always go as planned but if a hiccup throws things off, there’s still enough time before guests arrive. This allows for me to take a breather, pour myself a drink and actually get excited for people to arrive instead of running around last-minute stressing.
Two hours before guest arrive, I go around my house and light all of my candles. That way, everything smells delicious when they walk in. If it's cold out and you have a fireplace, get a fire started for added coziness. Ambience is just as important as the delicious food you've prepared so your guests enjoy your home as much as you do!