Have fun while you host
One of the biggest regrets holiday hosts often have is that with all the prepping, cooking, serving and cleaning up they have almost no time to actually visit with their guests. A good time may be had by all, but it was all being had while they were out of the room or otherwise occupied.
There’s no getting around the fact that the host of a holiday gathering is going to be the busiest person at the party, but there are ways to simplify things that will allow you to be able to spend more time with your guests so you can enjoy the festivities too.
8 ways to make your holiday entertaining easier
- Choose food that can be made in advance. Obviously there are some things that must be cooked on the day of the event, and possibly even during the party, but as much as possible, choose salads, appetizers, desserts and side dishes that can be cooked or prepped in advance so all you have to do is pull them out of the fridge and serve (or heat and serve, as the case may be). Check out Eating Well, Better Homes and Gardens, and The Huffington Post for some fabulous make-ahead holiday recipes.
- Ask for help. Many hands make light work, so consider asking your guests to bring a side dish, salad or dessert that will complement the main you’ll be preparing. Not only is this easier on the host, but it helps keep the cost of holiday entertaining down by sharing the financial burden amongst family and friends. Check out our tips for hosting a successful potluck dinner.
- Plan ahead. Find all your recipes, create your menu, write up your shopping list and start gathering everything you’ll need well in advance. Not only are you able to take advantage of sales at the grocery store in the weeks before your holiday gathering, but you’ll also feel less harried if you’ve already got your pantry stocked with everything you’ll need. It’s a definite sanity-saving measure to avoid crowded grocery stores the day before a holiday dinner.
- Prep for leftovers. Check your stash of plastic containers to make sure you have them clean and handy when the time comes to put away all the food. If you want to send any leftovers home with your guests, consider buying Chinese takeout containers from the dollar store and keep those at the ready too. Just make sure to save enough leftovers for yourself so that you have a simple meal to eat the next day – you’ll need a break by then!
- Make space. It’s December, so odds are people will be arriving in winter coats and boots. Clear out some space in your closet by piling your coats on a bed, and add some extra hangers and a basket where people can toss hats and gloves just in case. Don’t forget to make room in the fridge for any dishes your guests may be bringing too! This kind of prep keeps chaos to a minimum and means you won’t be running around trying to find or make space when your guests arrive.
- Go self serve. Put juice, pop, wine and beer into a cooler near a table filled with glasses, ice and drink mixers. This way guests can simply help themselves rather than waiting for you to serve them. Do the same for coffee and tea after dinner.
- Wrap as you buy. If your holiday gathering includes presents, wrap them as you purchase them, particularly if you’re someone who likes to buy well in advance. Trying to find the time needed to wrap dozens of presents the day before your party is a sure-fire way to end up stressed out and unnecessarily frazzled.
- Think less is more. If you know you’re having a huge gathering, consider going minimalist when it comes to decorations. Not only will it save you time, but depending upon the amount of holiday-house trimming you normally do, it may also save space, which is important when you have a house full of guests!
Perhaps one of the most important tips when it comes to hosting a holiday gathering is to not worry if it’s not magazine perfect. Your guests would much rather see you than an artfully decorated cake that keeps you trapped in the kitchen instead of sitting at your place at the table.
For more tips on having a stress-free holiday, check out our article on how to get a jump on the holidays.
413105A CAN/US (12/15)