First Time Hosting Over the Holidays? 10 Tips to Keep in Mind

in Lifestyle

After years of visiting friends’ and family’s houses, you’ve decided to host your own holiday event. It’s fun, but we get it—it can also be a little bit nerve-wracking. This may be the most special event you have ever hosted in your home, and a holiday event may come with a lot of family traditions. The trick is to find the balance between honoring those traditions and starting some of your own.

The key to a low-stress, successful party is to be organized, make lists and do as much as possible before the day of the party. Most of the decorating can be completed before the party. String lights, place welcoming houseplants around your home and set out tubs of holiday candies everyone can enjoy.

Here are more helpful tips to help you host a great party that you will enjoy as much as your guests.

  1. Finalize the guest list. This may determine the type of gathering you will have. If you want to have a formal meal, guests will be limited by the number of people you can seat at your dining table. However, if you want to host a more casual holiday get-together you can just focus on a variety of Hors d’oeuvres that can serve a small group. Keeping COVID in mind, we recommend utilizing serving utensils, so you can safely distribute food to people’s plates.
  2. Decide on your menu. Keep in mind the specialty dishes that some might be able to bring. If your mom has always loved baking pies, ask her if she would like to make the pies for your dinner. If your best friend always makes a salad with ingredients from her garden, she may be very happy to continue that tradition at your house. This will be one less thing for you to worry about making for the party. Here’s another quick tip: Don’t add undue stress by including dishes that are more complicated or require perfect timing. Keep it simple if it can’t be made the day before.
  3. Go through your recipes and make a grocery list. Go ahead and jot down all of the groceries you’ll need for your holiday menu so you can easily check them off when shopping. Don’t forget to include the spices you might need. There’s nothing worse as a host than realizing you don’t have thyme as you’re whipping up an appetizer.
  4. Set your table a couple of days before your party. This will guarantee that you have enough plates, glassware and silverware for all of the guests. Include setting out the serving dishes and utensils. Refer to your menu and decide which bowl or platter will be used for each item on the menu.
  5. Order beautiful centerpieces for your dinner table. A few added candles will give a soft glow to your table, especially if your meal will be served in the evening. A note for centerpieces: Always be sure to keep them low enough that your guests can see over the top of them when they’re talking at dinner.
  6. Consider boarding your pets for the day. It can be very stressful for pets to have their home invaded by a large number of strangers. Even the best-behaved dog can have a difficult time during a party. That’s nothing to say about how you might feel if you have to put your cooking on hold because your dog wants to go on a walk.
  7. Set the tone for your party at the front door. Sometimes, we neglect the main entrance that guests will use because we never use it. Decorate with beautiful spring plants that will welcome your guests. If you live in the North, be sure to be prepared for frost and ice in the early spring months. Keep the sidewalk clean and safe for your guests.
  8. Make as much of the food the day before as possible. From slicing the cheese to making dessert, everything you can do the day before will make the day of the party easier for you. You’ll thank yourself for it.
  9. Add some finishing touches. Add some colorful Easter eggs around your home to add a playful touch. Accent your couch and chairs with pastel-colored pillows that lighten your home. There are plenty of ways to bring more spring into your current home décor.

    Don’t neglect the bathroom either. This will be one of the busiest rooms in your house. Add some potpourri or a lovely assortment of your favorite scented candles. A spring-themed bath mat can be a fun way to dress up a bathroom, too. Add a spring plant like tulips or daffodils on the counter or windowsill to continue the spring feel.

  1. Get a good night’s sleep. Everything is under control. You know exactly what to do on party day. Relax and look forward to a great day.

A note for hosts during this time: Many of us will be unable to be together physically for the holidays. That doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate. You can host a holiday party via Skype, Zoom or FaceTime. Set a time that works for everyone and pass recipes around beforehand. Keep in mind different time zones if your family is spread out across the country.

It’s important for families to be together in whatever way that is possible but still safe. That family bond will be made stronger whether we get together in person or virtually—and you can be the hosting hero who pulls the whole family together.


Image Credits: Norbert Höldin

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