Hosting for the holidays can be stressful – but it doesn’t have to be! With a little forethought and some pre-planning, your next home gathering can leave your spirit full, not frazzled.
Curtail kitchen labor
No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen while their guests are partying. Having a menu that can be prepped in advance eliminates a lot of the stress surrounding feeding a crowd. Think casseroles, soups, slow-cooker dishes, no-bake desserts and the like that can be assembled ahead of time, and popped in the oven, on the stove, or plugged in on the day of the festivities. Set up a self-serve drink bar, where guests can do their own mixing and pouring. For snacking, most grocers stock pre-cut cheese and meat trays, so all you have to add are crackers for an easy party appetizer, or an afternoon bite for houseguests. Breakfast casseroles that can be made ahead of time and simply baked in the morning mean you’ll be able to ease into the day with your guests.
Load your pantry with kid- and adult-friendly snacks, fill your fruit bowl with healthy grab-and-go items to tide guests over until the next meal, and keep a supply of drinks on hand (depending on how cold it is outside, you can store overflow in a cooler on the back porch). Also, keep kitchen essentials well-stocked: Think baking products, eggs, milk, half and half, coffee and the like. Having such items in healthy supply will eliminate stressful last-minute runs to the store. And don’t forget extra toilet paper, soaps and shampoos for the guest bathroom.
Ahead of your guests’ arrival, move your coats, shoes and bags out of entryway spaces, empty under-bathroom-sink cabinets and closets in guest areas, and clean out the fridge. De-cluttering offers a welcoming space for your guests, one where they can feel relaxed and at home. It can also help them keep track of all the items they’ve brought from home when it comes time to pack up and leave.
Spread the holiday mood
Elegant decorations, festive background music and scented candles can provide a feast for the senses to greet guests upon their arrival. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to suit up your space; doing so not only gives you a chance to thoughtfully plan, but also allows you a moment to soak in the sumptuous surroundings before guests arrive.
Delegate tasks and take time for yourself
If you’re feeling overwhelmed ahead of hosting a party, don’t be shy about asking family and friends to help. Chances are, you’ve got one or two guests who would be more than happy to arrive a bit early to set out appetizers, or stay after the party to help clean up. Taking a moment before guests arrive to enjoy a cup of tea, a glass of wine, or a short nap will leave you refreshed, relaxed and ready to join in the fun.
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