Tips for hosting a stress free holiday includes shortcuts, personal experiences, and tricks to simplify your holiday party.
Ready or not, here come the holidays. We are only only a week away from Thanksgiving and Christmas is in 6 weeks! If you guys are hosting a holiday party, friendsgiving, or your 1st ever Thanksgiving, I got you covered with Tips for Hosting A Stress Free Holiday. As much as I love to host a holiday party, it is indeed a lot of work and over the years, I have picked up some tips & shortcuts which I am sharing today to simplify things and help you host a stress-free holiday with your loved ones.
PLAN & PREP IN ADVANCE
A key to a successful party is to plan & prep as much as possible in advance. I like to have a detailed guest list (with food allergies, restrictions) and my to-do list leading up to the event. My friend Stephanie (from StephanieSuire) suggested setting up the table night before and having napkins ironed, dishes and silverwares washed 2-3 days in advance.
Make a checklist of dishes you are making (or if people are bringing) & get shopping done ahead of time. Additionally, have an idea of thawing (frozen vs. fresh turkey), preparing, and cooking time of each dishes so that it's ready when guests arrive, and have all your serving platters and spoons ready too.
Save time by assembling and cooking few dishes in advance such as cranberry sauce & green bean casserole (assemble everything & simply bake it the day of).
TAKE SHORTCUTS WHEN POSSIBLE
Since I am not a baker, I am always happy to find trust worthy dessert-mixes that can be baked at home such as The Cheesecake Factory At Home Cheesecake Mix! I am one of those people who takes pride in making things from scratch but my baking is rather rusty so I absolutely love products that helps me bake without worrying about measuring ingredients or wondering if it will turn out okay. This one is salted caramel cheesecake I made for a friendsgiving dinner.
If baking is not your thing, you want to take some load off your holiday hosting, or need dessert for your potluck, I highly recommended you to give the new The Cheesecake Factory At Home Cheesecake Mixes a try which by the way comes in three flavors (Classic, Strawberry, Salted Caramel). The instructions are super simple to follow + you can make a cheesecake(s) to impress your guests ahead of time.
Besides desserts, you can rely on store-bought rolls, stuffing mix, & salads to simplify your life a little bit.
CLEAN UP AS YOU GO
Kitchen often becomes a disaster zone with dishes, trash, and whatnot so it is best to clean up as you go. Leah (from Leisurely Leah) strongly recommends not letting dishes, pots, and pans to pile up and making sure the dishwasher is unloaded and trash can is emptied out before guests arrive. If you have large baking pans and pots, store them inside the oven (once the oven is turned off) to save counter space.
Clean other areas of your home such as guests bathroom, coat closet, and other areas of the house your guests will have access to ahead of time. I also like to have some holiday scented candles and holiday music playing in the background to set the mood right before guests arrive.
Since not everyone arrives at the same time and/or if there is a delay with dinner (which almost always happens), it is best to have some easy appetizers + killer drinks to welcome your guests. I don't suggest having too many appetizers because you want guests to enjoy dinner and not fill up quickly on appetizers. My all-time favorite is seasonal cheeseboard because it brings people together and there is something for everyone. Also, some other easy make-ahead ones are : chicken patties // samosa bites // Hummus + Guacamole + Crackers (oat-based & semolina flour-based).
If you are short on time, follow tip # 2 and buy pre-made appetizers and arrange them into pretty platters and bowls. Also, Make sure to chill your drinks in advance and don't forget ice.
IMPROVISE & RELAX
In spite of pre-planning and doing our very best, sometimes things just don't go as planned and as a host, it can be very stressful and upsetting. Trust me, I have been in those situations before and over the years, I have learned to improvise things as they come my way. When it comes to food, I stick with truly tried and tested recipes, have little extra of everything for just in case situations, and follow all the above tips/tricks I shared to make sure things go smoothly.
Put on your outfit or at least do your makeup/hair at least 30 minutes before your guests arrive. I used to wait till the very last minute because I didn't want to smell like food or have things splatter all over me but now I do my hair & make-up 30 minutes prior, have appetizers + drinks ready, and change into my outfit 5-10 minutes before guests arrive. Also, putting on apron during cooking is a good idea.
Ginger (from Ginger Marie Blog) highly recommends pouring yourself a drink during preparation & cooking to bring the stress level down and enjoy the process, which I think is my fav tip.
If you as a host are hustling, bustling, and worrying, chances are, your guests won't feel as much at ease because they feel your energy. So I suggest you go with the flow and enjoy the time with your loved ones instead of worrying about minor details and perfecting everything.
Another way to enjoy a stress-free holiday is by organizing a potluck with your loved ones. I hosted a Summer potluck this year and here are few tips to host one although it's not holiday focused.
If you want to go all out this holiday season, here are some great holiday party ideas circa 2014!
What tips and tricks do you have for hosting a stress free holiday?