Hosting a holiday get together can be a stressful affair. There’s food to cook, a house to clean, and people to entertain — sometimes all simultaneously.
It’s enough to make even the most pulled together folks lose sleep at night.
Don’t want your holiday hosting duties to keep you from counting sheep? Then follow these easy tips for a stress-free event:
- Accept help — or buy it.
If any of your guests or loved ones volunteer help — accept it. If it’s your little one who can’t cook, enlist their help in setting the table or sweeping the front stoop. If it’s your husband who’s not exactly the best housecleaner, send him out to buy groceries, pick up supplies, or run last-minute errands.
In the event no one offers up help consider paying for it. Call up a local restaurant or grocer, and order a few sides, appetizers, desserts, or even the full meal. You can also bring in a professional cleaning service to give your home a once-over before the big day. The more you can get off your plate, the more time you’ll have to attend to your guests.
- Do as much beforehand as possible.
The fewer tasks you can leave to the day of, the better. Clean your house, set the table, and cut up and prep your veggies the night before. You might even be able to make some of your sides and apps, as long as their flavors won’t be compromised upon heat-up.
You may also want to invest in a few warming dishes (or borrow them from a neighbor) to keep pre-made food warm while you entertain your guests or cook your remaining dishes.
- Set up to make cleaning easier.
Cover your counters and dining surfaces with tablecloths, and use paper napkins that are easily disposable. Make sure to put out a few different trashcans throughout the areas your guests will be eating and congregating in. You want it to be as easy as possible to clean up — both for you and those you’re hosting.
You can even take steps to make your cookware easier to clean, too. Buy a few boxes of parchment paper, and use it to line any baking dishes before cooking on them. Be sure to fill your sink with warm water and soap, too. As soon as a dish is emptied or done being used, put it in the warm water to soak. This will reduce scrubbing time and make dishes quicker to clean on the whole.
- Keep decor and dishes simple.
The more complicated your dishes, decor, and table settings are, the more work they take to set up (and take down). Stick to simple, classic decor and tablescapes, and try not to veer too far off from traditional holiday dishes. You also might want to limit drink choices to a few basics — tea, water, milk, etc. If anyone wants to bring a particular refreshment they’re fond of, they’re welcome to (just don’t commit to providing it.) This will keep things streamlined and efficient as you get closer to the event.
- Serve your meal buffet-style.
Put out a few long, covered tables, and use one for your appetizers, one for drinks, and one for the main meal. Encourage your guests to serve themselves as desired throughout the event. This keeps you from having to pass around big, bulky dishes (potentially making a mess or spilling), and it reduces foot traffic in and out of the kitchen. You can also consider putting out a few coolers of canned drinks — one outdoors and one inside — to make things even easier.
- Encourage outdoor time.
If you have the space, make your back porch, patio or deck the go-to spot for conversation. Set up a fire pit, warm blankets and supplies for s’mores, and put on music to set the mood. A little mess in your backyard is much less stressful than a wrecked kitchen or dining room (it can typically wait until morning, too!)
- Have a kids area.
If there are going to be kids at your event, you’ll want to have a designated spot where they can hang out, play, and eat. Not only will this keep them entertained and happy, but it will also discourage them from getting into things and places they shouldn’t (and making messes there while they’re at it).
Set up a kids table (complete with paper plates and plastic silverware), and put some toys, blankets, books, and maybe even a movie on in a bedroom or corner of the living area.
Remember to Enjoy Yourself!
At the end of the day, the holidays are meant to be enjoyed, so don’t let the stress get the best of you. Take time to sit back, catch up with friends and loved ones, and revel in the event you’ve hosted. Happy holidays!