‘Tis the season for holiday entertaining, and whether you’re the Martha Stewart of hosting or it’s your first go at it, celebrating the most wonderful time of the year doesn’t have to be stressful. And let’s face it, less stress means more quality time with your family and loved ones this season.
Here are some tips to help make your holiday hosting simple (and fun)!
Take the help if offered
Just because you’re in charge of hosting this year, that doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. If your guests offer to bring an appetizer or dessert, make the playlist, or want to play bartender for the night, let them. Don’t be shy in instructing your friends to bring in a specific item either – taking the guesswork out of what a guest should bring is a win-win for everyone. Additionally, if you’re new to the hosting game and don’t have enough plates or cutlery, a fancy punch bowl, or enough dining chairs, enlist some guests to bring things from their homes to take the pressure off you (and your wallet).
Establish your own traditions
Family traditions mean you’re likely used to celebrating the holidays in a particular way. And while traditions are special and aspects of them should be held on to, you’re also allowed to start your own new traditions. Focus on the things that you love about the holidays and ditch those that bring you stress. If formal attire isn’t your thing, tell your guests to wear their best holiday pajamas for a fun themed party. Not into baking cookies? Skip it and visit your local bakery to pick up some tasty treats instead. Don’t like your mom’s cranberry sauce? Tell her (politely) not to bring it! Traditions are unique, so don’t be afraid to have some fun and focus on what’s important to you when looking to build new memories and establish your own way of doing things.
Don’t leave the clean-up for the next morning
Sure, you’ll likely be tired after the festivities have wrapped, but there’s few things better than waking up to a freshly tidied home. When it comes to loading the dishwasher, wiping down counters, or taking out the trash, ask some friends to help make the job quick and efficient. Pro adult tip: reset and tidy your home nightly, holiday entertaining or not. Trust us, your future self will thank you.
It doesn’t have to be picture perfect
Your home doesn’t have to look like a perfectly curated Pinterest board. If that’s your thing, you do you, but if it’s not, you shouldn’t feel pressured to make your home into something it’s not. Before you spend money on décor, matching napkins, and elaborate holiday wreaths, take a look at things you might already have on hand, like candles, string lights, or branches from the tree in your front yard, and re-purpose them in unique ways. No one cares about the décor as much as you think they do. We promise.
Stock up on some essentials
We’re not talking about the cheeseboard, wine, or party games here. Make sure your closet has enough coat hangers to accommodate the influx of coats, have some extra plates or containers ready to send guests home with any leftovers, get multiple trash cans set up to help keep things tidy, and if any of your guests have dietary restrictions, be sure to have snacks and items that cater to their particular diets (think, oat or soy milk options for coffee or tea, gluten-free snacks, and vegetarian meals for non-meat eaters). Keeping these little things in mind will ensure everyone feels included and has a memorable experience.
Take deep breaths – something will inevitably go wrong and it’s better to realize that earlier on and learn to roll with it. Embrace the magic of the season and focus on the positives – and if all else fails, you’ll at least have some funny stories to tell at next year’s holiday party.
There’s no denying it, holiday entertaining is a lot of work. But by preparing yourself with a gameplan, realizing you’re not a one-person team, and finding joy in it along the way, you’re bound to have a successful and memorable gathering.