Day 8: Tips to Make Hosting Easier for the Holidays


It seems like every year as soon as I finish my Thanksgiving Dinner, I start imagining all the festivities the Christmas season will bring.  I picture baking cookies with friends, going to parties, and snuggling by the glow of the Christmas tree. I tend to imagine that I will finally have loads of time to spend with friends and family.  But it feels like every year we make less and less time to do something special together for the season.  In fact, it feels a bit hypocritical of me to write this post because for all of these reasons we decided not to host a Christmas party this year.

Nonetheless, I'm a big proponent of the philosophy that hosting doesn't have to take up all of your spare time if you do it right, so this post is intended to show you how simple hosting can be so that you can feel empowered to throw together that last minute Christmas party you've been debating the last few weeks.  Nothing is better than actually spending time together (not even that fancy recipe you wanted to wow everybody with!), so this is my plea to you: go make it happen!

Today I'm sharing some tips and recipe links so that you can feel free to host this season without stressing out about throwing the World's most pinterest-Worthy Soiree.

So if you want to be the hostess with the mostest (by which I mean the most time and energy to spend with friends instead of the most perfect hosting skills) here are my tips:

1) Make or prep EVERYTHING the day before, and serve only 2-3 hot dishes that can be prepped ahead:  I often have visions of serving gorgeous arrays of really impressive and complicated menu items... but then somehow I end up in the kitchen the whole time guests are here. The best way to manage the food component is to dedicate about 3-4 hours the day before to clean up your home, prepare a couple of really pretty (but simple) platters that can be pulled from the fridge a few minutes before your guests arrive, and prepare 2-3 hot dishes that you can keep in the fridge and put in the oven just before showtime.  The LAST thing you want at the holidays is to be stuck in the kitchen slaving over something fancy, but never stopping to enjoy your time with friends and family.  

For party platter inspo...check out some of (in my opinion) the world's sexiest cheeseboards:

This Epic Spread from the Reluctant Entertainer 

This Cheeseboard "101" from Barefeet in the Kitchen

This super quick and simple cheese board from Wholefully


For my favorite make ahead hot dips and dishes:

This Easy Dip that is similar to a Spinach Artichoke Dip

This Simple Shrimp De Jonghe Recipe that can be assembled in about 5 minutes and then popped in the oven

This well-known meatball recipe that NEVER gets old


For my favorite batch cocktail ideas you can blend ahead of time:

This Pomegranate and Orange Champagne Punch from Foodie Crush

These Cranberry Orange Margaritas from Half Baked Harvest (and while you're over there, just peruse and drool for a while... any recipe of hers is straight up magic)

This list from Food and Wine has several other options that look amazing!



2) Make a statement tablescape as the decor focal point so you don't have to deck ALL the halls! 


Make a statement with 1-2 decor pieces such as a tablescape and Christmas Tree, but don't feel like you have to add Christmas to every single corner.  Ain't nobody got time for that! If you missed it, check out our previous post with some really simple steps to create a festive and elegant tablescape.  This could be tweaked for a buffet table if you're not sitting down for a plated meal!

3) Set the ambiance with low lights, candles, and a classy/classic holiday playlist

Setting the right mood is key... and probably the easiest element of it all if you've got the right resources. Turn your lights down low, plug in the tree, light some candles, and play some subtle Christmas music in the background!

Favorite Candles:

Voluspa Holiday Candle

Nest Holiday Candle

Click here for our Classic Holiday Playlist

4) Outsource!! 

If there's anything you want to add to the basics (such as homemade desserts, specialty cocktails, or any unique appetizers or food items) ask your guests to bring something.  I guarantee no one will be offended.  I used to feel that if I was the hostess I had to do it all, but a better approach is to share the load and invite everyone to contribute in some small way.

I hope some of these ideas have inspired you to think about hosting in a much simpler way this holiday season!

With love from Chicago