With Halloween over and done with, it is time to start planning for the Christmas season. Stores already have their Christmas decorations in full force so whether you are hosting this season or not it doesn’t have to be a stressful time. Here are a few tips for hosting a wonderful Christmas gathering without breaking a sweat.
- First, determine whether you want a sit-down dinner or something more casual, like a cocktail party. Buffets make dinner parties easy: You can get dishes out quickly and keep them warm whiles guests can help themselves. For a stress-free cocktail party, stock the pantry and prepare hors d’oeuvres ahead of time. That leaves only an hour or two of prep on the day of your event.
- Once you've decided what kind of party you're going to host, determine the date, time, guest list, and menu. Then put together a list of people to invite and decide how you're going to get the word out (you can send an invitation via email or post, or you can call guests). We suggest inviting your guests at least three to four weeks in advance if not sooner, as calendars fill up fast around the holiday season.
- Now that you know what type of party you're going to host and you have a guest list, it's time to pick what you'll serve. If you're having a dinner party, pick and choose which recipes you want to use and create your own holiday menu. Plan your menu around your go to main dishes. Never try to attempt a new recipe the day of your party. If there are any aspects of the meal that can be made ahead then do so to alleviate some of the cooking on that day. Make a list of when of when things need to be put in the oven and at what times.
- Look over each item on your menu and list everything you'll need to make it happen. Note each ingredient, then check your kitchen for what you have in stock and what you need to buy. Make sure you have all the serving equipment you need to dish out your food and drink plans. No kitchen ever has enough serving platters during party season, but cheap platters can be bought from $2 shops and covered with foil to "make-do" or stretch what you have.
- A beautifully set table can make even plain food look elegant and inviting. And you don't need to spend a lot of money to do it. Start with a great tablecloth, add a bowl of Christmas balls, fruits or candles. Candlelight is the kindest light of all but can be hot and dangerous if there are children attending the party. You want enough room on the table for food so don’t over do it.
- Don't attempt a top-to-bottom housecleaning before your party. Confine your efforts to the rooms your guests will see and use - close the doors to the others. Clutter removal is key to the rest of your housecleaning. If you have it in your budget then get a professional housecleaning service in a day before to relieve you of that burden.
- Finally and probably the most important thing - have fun! It takes a lot of planning and effort to pull off a Christmas Party, and most guests are delighted that you have invited them along. They don't care if you forgot to put out the nice cutlery or your dog threw up in the front yard. So take a deep breath before you open the door to guests and relax.