If you’re hosting (or helping host) a family Christmas gathering this year, please accept a virtual pat on the back from us. It takes guts to invite extended family into your place, and even more gumption to cook for them. Its can be stressful to even attend these events, let alone run one of them yourself. Here’s how to make sure your holiday soiree goes smoothly and you actually have fun doing it.
Do what you know how to do well. Never roasted a turkey before in your life? Don’t stress, enlist someone you know to help you out or buy a pre-made one from somewhere local. Focus on the dishes you’re good at, and do them your way.
Don’t feel obligated to do the traditional thing if you really don’t want to. Preparing a dinner that you’re totally uninterested in will be boring for you and so you probably won’t be able to really “make it with love”. See if your family is into the idea of doing something a little different this year and having lasagna or surf and turf. One non-traditional Christmas party out of the whole season probably won’t ruin Christmas. It might be just what your guests need.
Prepare as much as you can ahead of time so you don’t have to shortchange your cooking / hosting talents. Most apps, for example, (mini quiches, sausage pastry rolls) freeze well. Chop veggies, peel potatoes, and set the table in advance so you can get creative in the kitchen when actually preparing the meal. You also don’t want to be cooped up in the kitchen while people are mingling.
Dress the part. Even if you’re completely uninspired about hosting a holiday party, look the part. Wearing a festive outfit and doing your hair and makeup like a champ says “I threw this whole party together no problem.” Wear a decorative apron if you feel like really getting into the host thing. People don’t want to be hosted by someone they know doesn’t want to host them. Plus, looking festive will actually do wonders for your Christmas spirit.
Adopt a team effort mentality. Everyone knows Christmas is stressful and expectations are crazy-making. Your guests don’t want you to stress. If they ask you if they can help in any way, let them. They’ll likely be happy to bring a side dish or dessert. Then the pressure is off your shoulders a little.
Give your place a holiday glow. Create a warming ambiance with some indoor twinkle lights and candles and make a long playlist so you don’t have to shuffle around to switch CDs. It’ll help put you in the spirit, too. Make sure you’re stocked up. You don’t want to run out of nibbles or drinks at any point. Prep for 5 apps per person, and always have back ups on hand. Also make sure you’ve also got enough chairs, wine glasses, dessert bowls, etc.