This is my first year hosting Christmas. And boy, am I panicking. There’s so much to do and so little time, in between prepping food, creating a menu, and tidying the house. We also have to make sure our guests are happy and having a great Christmas. That there are enough drinks and that there are no arguments over the remote – or anything more serious.
It’s not easy to keep everyone happy, so I decided to take some advice from some women who’ve pretty much got it together, get on the right track and be the best hostess I can possibly be. If you need some tips too, make notes!
1. Stick to what you know
“If you can’t handle providing all the courses for your dinner party, you can’t handle the hosting duties of a dinner party.” – Mindy Kaling.
Play it safe and stick to what you know. Try out your recipes beforehand, things like soup and desserts can be made ahead of time and kept fresh before the big day. Problems arise when you try to be too ambitious and create new things.
Who wouldn’t want to pull off the perfect meringue or create a masterpiece for the dinner table? Those things are just too ambitious, and best left undone unless you know the recipe inside and out. Honestly, it just leads to stress and disappointment. Play it safe, but let your food comfort your guests.
2. Remember you’re not superwoman
“Whenever [your guests] feel that you are stressed, the fun stops.” – Ina Garten.
It’s important to remember that you cannot do it all. You need help! And you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. Christmas is all about sharing, so get your guests, your friends, and your co-hosts to help. Hostess stress comes from trying to take on too much by yourself, it’s never going to go smoothly if you don’t share the burden. Accept your limitations and you’ll already be off to the best start.
3. Pay attention to the little details
“The first thing I do is offer champagne when people come to the door or if you don’t drink, a glass of sparkling water. I learned from John Travolta’s 50th birthday party that starting with some kind of beverage helps people feel welcome and invited.” — Oprah Winfrey.
Before you have people over, pay attention to those little details. Things like hand towels, candles, scents, and music make a huge difference. It’s easy to get caught up in the big things, but being a great hostess means thinking about the little touches. Which soaps are you putting out for guests, are there enough hand towels.
It all sounds very basic but adds up to a great guest experience.
4. Make sure you’ve planned entertainment
“Every December, I host a tree-trimming party. I serve chili with cornbread and lots of good wine. It’s a wonderful party, and it shows how much adults like to play.” – Maya Angelou.
Christmas is all about games and teamwork. While you’re prepping the dinner, you don’t want guests or family members to be sat on their phones waiting around. Before the big day crack out some games, or create an activity for people to do.
Even after dinner, we always play the ‘post-it’ game as we call it, where you stick a post-it note on your head, each person gives you a character or celebrity and you have to guess who you are.
5. Set your table right
“One of the things I enjoy most about entertaining and cooking for my family is the joy I get from the table setting … I am notorious for my table settings and my dishes.” Kris Jenner.
Your table will impress your guests. The way you lay it out and seat people says a lot. If you have a variety of guests coming over, sit the ones who are more likely to talk next to each other. Get a tablecloth, add details to your table, and make sure you have enough dinnerware for everybody.
Remember that you eat from the outside in, and usually, dessert and soup spoons go above the plate. It’s the little etiquette details that go a long, long way.
6. A little planning goes a long way
“A big mistake folks make is to cook too many dishes and make it more complicated than it needs to be.” – Padma Lakshmi.
Before everyone arrives, take note of the cooking times of all your items and plan how long it’s going to take. That way you know how to work it out so that you can get dinner and drinks on the table after your guests arrive.
And you’ve got plenty of time for other things. Check out these last minute recipes if you’re struggling for ideas. I’m going to be cooking our carrot soup as a starter this year, as I remember how good it tasted and how easy it was”
7. Be a modern-day hostess
“I need to be able to eat what I want to eat, so I just get rid of as many carbs as possible to go with it.” – Chrissy Teigen.
These days, nobody has time to be flawless. What’s more important is that you enjoy yourself and guests enjoy themselves. Keep the drink flowing, be a great hostess, and entertain your guests.
You need to enjoy yourself, encourage conversation with your guests and if things go wrong, they go wrong. Enjoy it, and don’t get hung up on being perfect.
Do you have any hostess tips to share? Let us know in the comments section below…
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