Well, December 2021 is turning out to be much like December 2020, but with a little more normalcy. We can at least enjoy our family and friends this holiday season, still with some precaution. But we are READY to host parties and be around the people we love. We have missed them!! Below are some great tips to stay stress-free hosting a party while you yourself can join in the fun and festivities!
Make a List
Perhaps the ultimate way to create a stress-free holiday is to live by a list. Plan ahead, and don’t be afraid to delegate. “Know what you’re capable and comfortable doing and give other people things to do,” says Kathy Gunst, culinary expert and author of Relax, Company’s Coming! and co-author of Stonewall Kitchen Harvest. Asking guests to help with a party-related task makes them feel more involved, so never be afraid to ask.
Do as much ahead of time as possible. “Soups and stews are the ultimate winter and holiday food — they’ll feed a crowd. Quiches and tarts also freeze well,” and you don’t have to make them from scratch, Gunst says.
You’ll never run out of nibbles if you shop with an aim to entertain. Stock your pantry with a selection of cookies and crackers. Consider purchasing nuts in bulk — which can be mixed together, tossed with maple syrup and cooked in a pan until they caramelize, Kathy says. Serve them with drinks or chop and scatter around a cheese platter. Long-lasting jarred tapanades and pestos make an impressive dip when mixed with fresh sour cream
Keep Drinks on Hand
As far as beverages go, it’s always smart to stock up on soda and mixers. Make sure to have coffee (regular and decaf), cocoa, cider and a basket of teas handy. Keep your bar stocked with vodka, rum and a few choices of wine.
Deck the Halls
Monica Gullon, former caterer, food editor and frequent entertainer, suggests going with the unexpected. “Bowls of vintage ornaments (from your family’s collection or a flea market) grouped by color or glass bowls filled with white twinkle lights can both look striking. Or place a bare branch in a vase and hang small ornaments from it.”
As for your exterior, you don’t need a house encrusted in twinkle lights to make an impact. Try a single stand-out wreath, potted evergreens, or a big bow on the front door.
For a casual holiday party, don’t feel compelled to seat guests around a dinner table. If you’ve got a lot of company, a buffet may be a better way. “Buffets are the most efficient way to serve a lot of people, but be sure to pull the table away from the wall so that there are four sides available to people, otherwise lines form and people can’t get to the food easily,” Kathy says.
Open Your House
Too many friends and family to host at one time? Have an open house and let them know they can drop by any time between certain hours on one special day. Your guests will appreciate the flexibility and you’ll gain quality time with the ones you love.
Gunst says the secret is preparing foods that can be done well ahead of time. That way, “When the doorbell rings for the first time, you’re ready.” Open houses work best when there are lots of smaller dishes to bring out throughout the day or evening as opposed to one huge main course, she adds. That way your buffet is always fresh.
Be a Graceful Giver
Store a few extra gifts in a closet and you’ll never be caught off-guard when a friend springs an unexpected gift-exchange; try to collect items for all ages and a few gift bags in holiday colors. If you make a practice of picking up items as you stumble upon them throughout the year, it’ll be easier when the season comes around.
Consider buying in bulk — divide one case of good red wine or champagne or prettily wrapped portions of quality tea or coffee. Or do some extra baking. Double that cake recipe or cookie confection and you’ll have freshly baked gifts ready to go. While a fruit cake may not be everyone’s favorite, no one will turn up their nose at a sweet tin of homemade cookies — an inexpensive gift that never fails to impress.