Are you hosting family/friends for a holiday dinner party? Do you like being a guest at your own party without running around during the event grabbing random things like sugar or a bottle opener? I will give you my top 10 tips to holiday dinner party hosting and how we hosted an elaborate thanksgiving and were able to sit down for dinner and enjoy our company. The key is preparation! I’ve also linked some of my favorite hosting items that I have!
1. Buy your groceries 4-5 days in advance, including fresh flowers for your table. Buy your pantry staples and non-perishables even earlier. Make sure you have enough napkins, candles, drinks and “the extras!” For me, that’s the garnish for the food, chocolate stirrers for the coffee, sprigs of rosemary and pomegranates for the cheese board.
2. Before the dinner, I like to make sure my Tupperware and kitchen junk drawer are organized. Hopefully no one will go through them rummaging for something they need, but it gives me peace of mind to have everything organized.
3. A day or two before the party, we start the food prep. This is a good time to wash and peel the carrots, potatoes, celery, Brussels sprouts and any other prep you need. If a dish needs sautéed meat, I’ll sauté the meat the day before. Dishes that are served cold like cranberry sauce, those are even better the day before. You can even season a turkey, marinate a chicken or cut and wash ingredients for the salad.
4. The night before, you should set up your coffee machine or percolator, fill up a water dispenser, set up some cups, and set the table with extra silverware and platters. This is also the time where I will set up a bar cart with the drinks that I am serving (other than the refrigerated drinks). I cut up the lemon wedges and limes for the drinks and store in the fridge. It’s also helpful to set up the trays you will use to serve, with some sticky notes telling you what dish goes where. When you’re in action mode, and your guests have arrived, it’s really hard to think about those things so having it all set up ahead of time makes for an easier party and allows you as the host to entertain.
5. The morning of the party, get your coffee, turn on some music and get excited for the day! This is when I set up the flowers and the table cloth and arrange the dinner table. This is also the time where it’s quiet and relaxing so turn on some Christmas carols and get yourself ready. For this set up, I used a classic, white china, crystal glassware, gold flatware, gold chargers and black candlesticks with a beautiful white, flocked garland with frosted berries and pine cones.
6. The day of the dinner party is the action day! If you’re cooking your own meal, the hour or two before the party is critical!!! This is the time where everything is cooking or warming up in time for the guests to arrive. There’s nothing worse than a cold meal or dried out food from warming up too long so timing is everything. Make a list, be prepared, outline your steps in a timeline. Of course simple meals don’t require all of this, but a Christmas dinner or a thanksgiving dinner with many people need a little more prep!
7. When hosting, it’s so helpful to have the counters clear, extra appliances to be put away and for the dishwasher and sink to be completely empty.
8. The smell of the dinner is filling up your home, the table is set, the dishwasher and sink are empty, everything is ready and your guests are set to arrive in 30 min. This is when I set up the apps and cold drinks in an ice buckets. A big cheese board is my go-to app! A quick arrangement of cheeses, crackers, French bread, fig jam, nuts, dried fruit, olives, vegetables and grapes and your impressive app is ready to go. Click here for a holiday board tutorial. This year, I set this up in the living room so that my kitchen remains free and guests are mingling out of the kitchen.
9. The food is cooked, the apps are set, and the candles are lit. “Alexa, turn on some dinner music.” I plug in my percolator so that the coffee starts brewing when the guests arrive.
10. Now sit back and relax, enjoy your dinner and your company. I make it a point to stack the dirty dishes or pots and pans in another room (laundry room or garage) so that they are out of the way and I’m not washing dishes with guests around!