Holiday Hosting Hacks
The holidays are upon us and you’re likely getting ready for one or several parties. If you’re ambitiously festive, you’re getting ready to host one of them, too.
Like a big organizing or decluttering project, the best way to pull off a successful (and stress-free) holiday dinner is to plan, plan, plan. Use these tips for planning before, during and after your holiday get-together.
In the few days before the gathering:
- Prep as much food, décor and supplies as possible.
You can prep less timely food the day/night before and keep it in the fridge overnight. By buying appetizers that don’t need cooking or can easily be warmed up, you save time and hassle. Also, consider setting up your dining area, drink station and serving areas the day before.
- Use balance of disposable and traditional serving ware.
Weigh the size of the party with your dishwasher capacity and what kind of cleanup you want to deal with. Smaller groups can get away with traditional cutlery and plates, but large groups will be more easily managed with plastic and paper.
- Lists are your best friend!
Make one for everything: grocery list, attendance, menus etc.
- Get some extra snacks and easily served appetizers to cover any issues/delays.
Always lean on the extra side for alcohol, pop, the main course and sides. It’s better to send people off with doggy bags than to run out of food. Asking guests to contribute appetizers, dessert or wine is a way to handle the cost more manageably.
- Pace yourself.
The holidays are about family and sentimental memories, not frazzled schedules and running around to get things done. Don’t overdo it.
- Use your in-house army.
This shouldn’t just be you taking care of everything! Your spouse and kids should be ready to help you with any task you give them, or call on a friend(s).
- Start your house cleaning and tidying several days before the party.
Worst case scenario: pick one room to dump last minute clutter into and close it off to guests (a helpful party trick!).
- Plan the menu and grocery list well beforehand.
Pick dinner items you’re confident in cooking and can coordinate easily (probably not the night to try a soufflé for the first time).
Tips for During the Party
While the party is going on:
- Set up appetizers and drinks so guests can serve themselves (and you can focus on dinner).
- Pick a specific time for everyone to arrive and dinner to be served.
Take into consideration: Are young kids attending? Plan around nap time and bed time. Is it only adults? Later works fine. What about all the above? An all-day drop-in centered around dinner works, too.
- Divvy out jobs to the family. If you’re not doing a self-serve bar, get your spouse or older kids to handle that, while someone else handles coats, purses and gifts.
- Designate a room off from the main area for the kids to go wild and be out of the way.
It’s most important to keep energetic kids out of the kitchen where they could get hurt.
- Have a sharpie handy.
This is handy for kids especially. Write names on all the cups so you’re not left with multiples lying around at the end of the night.
- Have a couple signature drinks.
This way you can serve them out quicker. Other drinks can be self-serve.
After everyone has gone home:
- Prioritize cleanup so you don’t exhaust yourself.
Gather dishes as the courses end. Put as many as you can in the dishwasher and pile the rest next to the sink. They’ll be ready to file in right after or in the morning. If you don’t have a dishwasher, gather plates and cutlery by the sink and soak the worst ones overnight.
- Toss disposable items like napkins.
- Gather up tablecloths and leave in the laundry room.
Depending on your energy levels, you can throw these in to be washed overnight or leave it for the morning.
- Let pans and pots soak overnight.
It’ll save you a meltdown trying to scrub tough food out of them right after a party. An overnight soak will make them much easier to clean the next morning.
- Clean up any time-sensitive stains or spills.
- Leave everything else for the morning and get a good night sleep!
Sometimes we need a holiday from the holidays. Finish off your Christmas party season with some dedicated time for you. Whether it’s a pedicure, a massage or a well-earned glass of wine by the fireside, take the time to unwind!
Most importantly: have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!