Many holiday hosts equate this duty with stress — with so much to do and so little time to do it. But this holiday season, channel the principles of the very trendy minimalism movement. Declutter yourself of unnecessarily complicated tasks (homemade individual chocolate souffles, anyone?), and focus on the fun. Here are your top hosting tips for an easy and chic holiday event your guests — and you — will enjoy.
Tip 1: Prep Half The Dinner The Day Before
One of the best tips for hosting is planning ahead. Certain dishes are super easy to prepare a day or two before the party and just need to be thrown into the oven an hour or so before serving.
Stuffing, mushroom and onion tarts, potato gratin — nearly all your holiday dinner side dishes can be ready to go so that day-of all you have to do is roast the turkey or ham and toss the salad.1
Tip 2: Keep The Decorations Simple And Natural
Instead of filling your shopping cart with decorations made of plastic and styrofoam to deck out your house, consider going rustic. Purchase natural beeswax candles (these smell amazing) and forage for festive branches, pinecones, rosemary, and leaves from around your neighborhood to decorate your table and mantle.2
Not only does this style of decor look chic, it saves you money, and you don’t have to find a place to store it all after the holidays. It’s a win-win situation.
Tip 3: Make A Chic Charcuterie Board
Ever seen a beautifully arranged selection of finely cured meats, savory cheeses and crackers, salty nuts and olives, and sweet dried fruits and chutneys? That’s charcuterie — and it’s the perfect display of snacks for hosting family and friends.
It not only looks impressive, but it greatly reduces the number of dishes to wash — since everything is spread across one big board or platter. Charcuterie is the ultimate finger food and also doesn’t require forks or spoons to enjoy.3
Tip 4: Have A Holiday Signature Cocktail
A well-stocked bar can be an expensive bar, often requiring a lot of little gadgets and specialty glasses. Streamline the drinks by letting guests know you will be featuring a signature cocktail, but if they would like to bring anything, their favorite wine or craft beer is always welcome.4
For the kiddos, a big bowl of holiday punch (non-alcoholic, of course) looks fabulously festive and eliminates the clutter of bottles and cans left around the house.
Last of the drinks tips and tricks — leave a washable pen at the bar, so everyone can mark their glasses with their name, an inspiring quote, or a fun drawing. This will avoid having to pick up endless cups around the house once your guests leave.
Tip 5: The Good, Old-Fashioned Fun Of Decorating Cookies
If you’re like many hosts, you worry about the little ones staying entertained while the adults mingle in the kitchen over cocktails. Consider a cookie decorating station. Prep an assortment of sugar and gingerbread cookies ahead of time, along with bowls of royal icing and sprinkles, and have them arranged on the coffee table as guests arrive.5
Not only will you have dessert taken care of, but the adults and kids alike can get involved in this fun activity of showing off their artistic skills — or lack thereof, which can be very entertaining in its own right.
Tip 6: Skip The Plastic Plates and Paper Napkins
Yes, disposables are a bit easier for cleanup, but they are horrible for the environment. Instead, opt to set the table with the real deal — cloth napkins and ceramic or glass plates. Don’t have enough for the number of guests? You’d be surprised how many people you know who would be more than happy to lend you theirs for the night.
There is a good chance you have at least one or two guests who love to assist or feel like they aren’t doing enough to help the host. Head off their worries by asking ahead of time if they can save the day by loaning you some of their dinnerware for the evening.6
When it’s time to set the table, mix and match the pieces for an effortlessly cool look. A beautifully set table is all about creating interest. Giving guests a chance to glance around at their neighbor’s settings is also a good conversation starter, especially when meeting new faces around the table.
Tip 7: After Dinner Hot Chocolate (And Coffee) Bar
Like the cookie decorating station, this one is set up with the kids in mind, but it will most likely attract the adults as well. On a side table, have an electric kettle or milk warmer (to be used under adult supervision), a container of cocoa powder, and all the toppings you can think of — marshmallows, whipped cream, peppermint pieces, holiday-themed sprinkles, cookie straws, mini chocolate chips — you name it.7
And for the adults, consider setting out thermal carafes of decaf and regular coffee (and maybe a bottle of Irish cream for good measure).
Good Food, Good Company — And An Overall Fabulous Evening
Hopefully, these tips for hosting this holiday season remind you that less can be more — and what really matters is the memories you’re making. Paring back on the clutter that fussy foods and decorations create allows you to focus on creating experiences and some pretty memorable photo opportunities. Happy holidays to you and your family.
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