While this is arguably the “most wonderful time of the year” the holiday season, it can also be the most stressful — especially those hosting the holiday soiree. It’s important to focus on the things you can control as a holiday hostess to minimize stress and ignore all else that your guests may be faced with like “family bickering.”
What’s your #1 holiday hosting stressor? For me, it’s when the guests arrive and we’re not ready. That’s why, we plan early and get to work at least 48 to 72 hours before guests walk up to our front door. If you’re hosting this holiday season here are six stress-free tips that you should be doing, so that you too enjoy the party.
Finalize the Plan. We take some time to look through recipes, finalize the menu — which has varying recipes for appetizers, the main course and dessert. We look for tasty items that can be prepared ahead of time or simple recipes that we can quickly whip up just before guests arrive. This is also a good time to get a head count of who will be coming to the gathering and if they’ll need overnight accommodations. This is the most important step, because it will set you up for success on how to handle the next tasks that should be taken.
Shop for Party Decor. During this time we also take inventory of our party supplies and head out shopping if we’re missing any of the essentials like napkins, plates, glassware, tablecloths or anything for the party stations. You can even buy games to keep guests lingering longer, we recently purchased a bingo set we found in Target — that kept the fun going well after Christmas brunch. We usually hit up Party City, Target and Pier 1 Imports to find just the right items.
Deep Clean Your Home. Keeping your home in order before, during and after entertaining is half the battle when hosting. Tackle bigger messes and clutter in the most-used rooms closest to the big event. You can then quickly spruce up lesser used rooms that guests may not utilize or see during the party.
Grocery Shop. During this time we head to the grocery store to buy the items we need to prepare the menu. We like to have fresh, quality food for our guests so we pick up items like veggies, dairy products and order the meat. While we’re out we also pick up the alcohol for the party.
The Set-Up. Once the house has been cleaned, it’s time to assess the rooms where you’ll be entertaining. Do they allow for opportunities to have multiple conversations? Is there enough to host a sit-down dinner or will you need to create space for a buffet station? Speaking of stations, create a coffee or bar station so guests can customize their own drinks. You can also do this with appetizers or desserts. Use this time to set the dinner table or stations with the items you need to serve up your delicious meal. Another important area to look at is the sleeping situation if you’re entertaining overnight guests. Here are a few tips to create a cozy retreat for them.
Food Prep. This tip is essential so you’re not stuck in the kitchen the day of the party. Cut veggies, create dips, assemble casseroles and other side dishes that you can just pop in the oven and warm up before serving. We usually do this the night before the event so everything is fresh. By prepping food the night before you’re also letting the ingredients ferment together to enhance the flavors.
Now with all those steps out of the way, you have time to do any last minute errands to pick up items like ice or bread. Finish up your menu and get yourself ready to celebrate! I’d say be ready to welcome guests a half hour before the invitation’s set time — just so you’re ready if they arrive early.
Let me know how you prepare for your holiday hosting in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.