TIPS FOR A MERRY SEASON OF HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING
Holiday parties and gatherings are oftentimes some the most fun and festive social events of the year, but when it’s your turn to host one, this can lead to a bit of added pressure and stress.
Fear not, holiday hosts, as we’ve come up with a wide array of tips and pointers. From decor to tablescapes to activities, keep scrolling for inspo on how to make your next holiday get-together THE preeminent event of the season.
Before the Gathering
MAKE A GROCERY LIST
No last-minute grocery runs for you this year! Make a thorough grocery list and buy the food at least a couple days in advance. That way you have time to find alternatives if some of the items on your list are sold out. Having a list will also make it easier for you not to buy the whole store when you walk in and see all the yummy holiday food specials. Don’t skimp on the wine though ;)
PREPARATION IS YOUR FRIEND
Avoid stress by prepping as much as you can the day before. That goes for food dishes, table setting, decor, etc. The more you can get done the day before, the more relaxed you’ll be the day-of.
Unless you only have one or two people coming over, it’s best to avoid super complicated menus. Aim to have dishes that are easy for you to make large quantities of, and it’s totally okay (and quite frankly we encourage it) to get some pre-made dishes from the store to reduce the amount of prep time.
LET THERE BE MUSIC
Make a playlist ahead of time and hook it up to a speaker for some nice holiday background music. Set it to shuffle and go back to the excitement.
Decorating the Home
WINTER WREATH AND DOORMAT
Set the merry mood for guests before they even set foot in the door with a winter wreath (fresh or faux, depending on your preference) and an inviting doormat.
STOCKINGS AND MANTEL DECOR
Hang some stockings and add some tasteful decorations to the mantel to elevate the living room decor.
THE SMELL OF CHRISTMAS
Light some winter scented candles and place around the house. Worried about kids or pets knocking them over? Opt for flameless candles instead, and you can still get that festive scent with a diffuser.
Fill the house with some cheery greenery. Whether it’s a Christmas tree, Hanukkah bush, or some fresh garland, even a few small touches of green will make a difference.
LIGHTS, LIGHTS, AND MORE LIGHTS
Is there such a thing as too many lights? We say no. Decorate the inside and outside of your house with decorative string lights. Just remember to give yourself a friendly reminder that it’s not a competition (we’re looking at you, Griswold).
Spruce up the sofa and armchairs with some chic Xmas throw pillow covers and a wintery blanket.
NAPKINS TO THE RESCUE
Need the table setting to be festive but don’t have winter or holiday themed plates or glasses? Get the look for less with themed napkins (paper or cloth) that you can place on or next to each plate.
Another quick and easy way to set the holiday table mood is a tablecloth. Keep it classic with red or opt for a fun print.
PLENTY OF SEATING
Keep everyone out of the kitchen by having a plethora of places to sit. Don’t have enough chairs at home? Ask a neighbor or friend in advance to borrow some.
Use a beverage dispenser for water or adult beverages such as spiked cider or bourbon eggnog. Put glasses or cups next to the dispenser so guests can serve their own drinks.
KEEP IT CHILL
Grab a metal bucket and fill it with ice so people have somewhere to chill their beverages quickly and easily
BUFFET-STYLE OR FOOD STATIONS
If you have several people coming over, keep it easy with a buffet-style spread. That way, people can grab what they really want to eat and it will likely reduce the amount of uneaten food on plates. If you have room for it, you could do a few food stations instead of one large spread to encourage people to mingle, which will also keep everyone from congregating in the kitchen.
Stock up on some eco-friendly to-go boxes for when everyone is stuffed so people can bring some of the food home with them.
What To Do During the Party
PHONE FREE TIME
If it’s a smaller group, suggest a no-phone night where no one uses their phone unless it’s an emergency or for a quick photo. It’s hard to do initially, but as soon as this devices are out of the way, it will open the door for stronger connections and better discussions.
Get the whole group involved with a classic game of charades.
BOARD GAMES & PUZZLES
Have some board games and puzzles on-hand to keep the kids busy and entertained. They also come in handy for adults if there are enough people down to play.
There’s something special about snuggling up next to a campfire with your favorite people. Add some hot cocoa and marshmallows for an even cozier experience.
Set up the kids table with some holiday crafts like threading popcorn garlands.
GINGERBREAD HOUSE COMPETITION
Stir up some healthy competition with a gingerbread house decorating contest.
PLAYING IN THE SNOW
If there’s snow on the ground where you live, take the party outside and go sledding down a hill or have a light-hearted snowball fight.
WATCH A HOLIDAY MOVIE
A perfect post-dinner activity (especially if it's a family gathering) is relaxing with a holiday movie (aka Love Actually, Elf, Home Alone, or The Holiday, right?).