If you’ve never hosted a party before, or love to host them but need some tips, here are a few Holiday Entertaining Party Hosting tips to get you started and reduce some of the stress this holiday season.
When we party plan, we subscribe to the KISS theory, aka Keep It Simple Stupid. I’ve been entertaining and hosting gatherings for years. In the 90s I lived in a bachelor suite in Vancouver’s West End. One time I decided I wanted to have friends over for Thanksgiving dinner. There were 6 of us having a full on turkey dinner in my studio bachelor suite. Let’s just say the bathtub has a whole new meaning to me after that evening (think storage for dirty dishes). I used to fly home for Christmas every year, and get together with friends. One time I made sushi rolls using my dads smoked salmon – a dish I’d never attempted before. From hosting Mexican themed food nights to monthly Mom’s wine nights, I’ve done my share of entertaining.
It’s these moments that hold special memories in my heart and remind me of the journey I’ve been on..
Season the Air
Nothing spells the holidays like a simmering pot of magic on your stove. If you are making making mulled wine or cider even better. Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cranberries, rosemary, sage, citrus all add delicious elements to the air masking the smells of any lurking odors.
Create a Cocktail – Cocktails are pretty popular these days and I admittedly have jumped on the cocktail train myself. Creating a special cocktail for your party is as simple as mixing together juice and some prosecco with fresh fruit. Google cocktails for some inspiration or ask a bartender for advice on making your own drink.
- Have available a mocktail version of your cocktail, sparkling water or fruit/herb flavoured waters for those wanting other options
- A couple bottles of easy drinking red and white, plus some craft beers, round out your beverage offering
Advance Planning is Key – Is this a sit down dinner, a potluck, or an appetizer and cocktail gathering? Make all those decisions in advance including what your menu will be. Make a list of everything you need to do starting with a menu and shopping list. Do all your shopping and prep work days before. Offer some small bites (appetizers) when guests arrive to curb any hunger pains. If you are feeling adventurous and have some extra cash try preparing a Charcuterie Board. A welcome cocktail, mocktail or glass of prosecco ready to hand your guests as they arrive helps set the tone.
Set the Mood – Dim lights and candles can create the perfect ambience. Ensure your candles are not over scented. Put on some tunes. I love to play a little Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald or Spanish Guitar (Ottmar Liebert or Oscar Lopez) during our evening. It’s always been my favourite dinner music. If you love Christmas tunes, put on some light holiday sounds.
- Do a basic clean, put out fresh linens, wipe down the bathroom. I toss last minute dirty dishes in the dishwasher in no specific order to get them out of the way
- Simple decorations are lovely. Have a pine or spruce tree out front? Clip a few branches, shake really well, and leave on tables. Pick up some fresh cranberries to add to the base of your candles. Put ornaments in bowls or unique vases around the house or use tree beads.
Really Dessert? – Already doing some holiday baking? Make extras and put out cookies and bars for dessert like this easy to make 5 Minute Fudge Wreath. It’s seriously a show stopper. Or prepare a butter tart station, an idea I got from Anna Olson, and will be making the first weekend in December myself (blog post to follow).
Don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy yourself and be sure to jingle while you mingle at your next gathering.