22 Ways You Can Have Stress-free Hosting on Your Next Christmas Party
Dreading the preparations for your next Christmas gathering at home? Don't worry, we got your back so you can experience stress-free hosting.
Putting together a party is hard and we can’t agree more. Stress-free hosting is that rare unicorn that is forever out of reach, or so we think. It’s not impossible, and if you keep these tips for stress-free hosting, maybe you’ll have a chance at surviving it without going crazy.
1. Make a List
…and check it twice. If you want a stress-free holiday at home, plan everything ahead and make a checklist.
2. Delegate tasks
Make sure your family helps out and delegate tasks as a family bonding activity. Just make sure you ask, they’re your family, not your employees.
“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.
You can invite guests to help if they offered and want to be involved. Don’t try to do everything yourself!
3. Prepare your cooking
Do as much as you can ahead of time, if possible. Some dishes can be made the day before and refrigerated, like casseroles and desserts. Less scrambling on the day itself means less stress.
4. Stock up on food
Before you run out of stuff to buy, check your supplies if you have enough and make sure you shop before anything goes out of stock. And if you shop way in advance, you won’t run out of things to serve and eat, especially if you’re going to entertain guests. Make sure you stock your pantry with enough finger food as well (cookies, crackers, biscuits, chips, etc.).
5. Keep drinks at the ready
Always stock up on soda, coffee (regular and decaf), hot chocolate, and tea. Also have alcohol on hand, like vodka, rum, whiskey, or wine. The hard drinks are probably the best because it can serve a crowd, if mixed for cocktails.
Doing everything completely sober would be a nightmare, so it would be better to have some social-lubricant handy for when things get a little rough. And besides, have fun!
6. Keep it tidy, but if you don’t have time, make concessions
If you have one messy room, just close the door, draw the curtains, and turn off the lights. Guests will get the idea that it’s off limits. If there’s clutter, keep one bin or drawer empty so you can keep the clutter in there for the meantime.
Actually, it would be best to empty all trash bins before you have guests over. And always have garbage bags ready. There will be lots of garbage to dispose of when the party’s over.
7. Do it buffet-style
Serving a party of people is done best buffet-style. It’s the most efficient way of serving a lot of people, but make sure you make all four sides of the table accessible by pulling it away from the wall.
8. Give the room a beat
Put together a playlist that suits the occasion to set the mood. It’s even better to go for an instrumentals only playlist, it’s the safest and most neutral way of playing music without offending anyone, because when it comes to music, everyone’s a critic. Or just go for the classic Christmas music. Just make sure you play the instrumentals during meal times and keep the music at a low volume to make way for conversation.
9. Have Air Fresheners handy
Your guests (and their kids and/or pets) will come from a lot of places so at least be ready for the assault of various smells in your house. Apart from keeping unseemly smells that originate from your own house, you’d be able to hide their own smells from them.
It really does wonders, too, if you want to distract them from that spot in the house that you haven’t cleaned that well yet.
10. Make enough space
Clear some space in your house, whether it be fridge space (for the food), living room space, kitchen space, dining room space, even coat rack space. Be ruthless in getting rid of leftovers (eat them on days leading up to the day!) and any clutter/garbage you won’t need. It’s a good chance for you to do some general cleaning, too.
11. Make your house kid- and pet-proof
If you have furniture or any possessions that you don’t want broken, scratched, or just smudged on with sweaty fingers and food stains, it would be best to hide these items in your bedroom until the party’s over. Those pesky kids would be running all over the place and you wouldn’t want them knocking over that vase you like–and it will just give you another mess to clean.
Visitors with pets might bring what they need for their pets but make sure you have some clean rags and lots of toilet paper ready just in case. And don’t leave chocolate lying in place that dogs can easily reach. Dogs are allergic to chocolate, and are often fatal.
12. Go for store-bought cakes
You don’t have to bake a cake. You don’t have to impress anyone with your baking skills. They wouldn’t care if it’s store-bought–it’s free cake!
13. Don’t refuse help
While it’s true that you can’t have too many people in the kitchen, you can’t do everything yourself. So if someone offers help, let them. It will make things run faster, and everyone will be less stressed.
14. Don’t try new recipes right before and during the party
Preparing for a party is not the time to experiment because if something goes wrong, it would eat the time you could’ve spent doing everything else. Stick with tried and tested recipes and show them your mastery in the dishes you’re good at! You also avoid potential food disasters as well.
15. Herbs Make Food 10x Fancy
This is a fact. And they smell nicer, too.
16. Don’t break out the fine dinnerware
If you’re going to serve a party where things can get chaotic, it would be best to serve food in durable dinnerware, not the fine china and all the fancy stuff. Don’t try to impress them with breakable items. It will just end up backfiring.
You can go with disposable dinnerware too, as it saves you time and energy. You’d rather spend more time with family and friends rather than spend most of it washing dishes. If you’re environment-conscious, you can go with biodegradable options, like paper plates and biodegradable plastic!
17. Have a hiding place ready
Having guests that are too much to handle? Take a breather every now and then. Have a hiding place that you can go to when things get a little hard to deal with. That’s the secret to stress-free hosting: take a break from everything every once in a while!
18. Don’t rely too much on Pinterest for those appetizers
We know that appetizer looks super good and amazing and Instagram-worthy but if it takes more time and resources just to have food that looks good in photos, we’d rather keep it simple. And besides, the main meals are what you should focus on anyway. Having cheese and cold cuts on a platter works every time.
19. Wrap and Give
Wrap a few giveaways at the end of the party. They can be food items or a few trinkets and some such to remember the day by. You can give away boxes of tea or coffee, or baked goods, especially cookies.
If you plan to wrap them, wrap them in one signature style. You don’t have to customize for each person, you might not have the time. Keeping it simple gives you some leeway to write personal notes on the wrapper–this is where your desire to customize can show, and it will be a little more personal.
20. Lower your expectations
Stop thinking how awesome everything should turn out to be. Stress-free hosting is difficult and parties are composed of people. More people means more variables, and that means more chances for it to not go the way you think.
So just take everything in stride, prepare for what matters. Don’t stress yourself with something unnecessary as high expectations. You’ll thanks us later.
21. Enjoy yourself
This is your party, so give yourself a chance to relax and enjoy. You’ve worked hard for this, so you’ve earned the right to enjoy the party you put together.
22. It will be over soon.
There are only so many hours in a day. Before you know it, the party’s done and you’ll be knocking back a bottle of wine on the sofa, celebrating the end of the day. You’ve done it, congratulations on hosting stress-free!