The holidays are a time to get together with loved ones and be grateful for all the good things in our lives. However, hosting the holiday meal shouldn’t leave you too stressed to enjoy the day. Whether you’re an old hand at cooking big holiday dinners, or this is the first time you’re inviting guests into your home, it can be done in an anxiety-free manner that is minimally disruptive.
- Plan Ahead – When you plan your menu in advance, you can avoid that last-minute rush in the kitchen by choosing dishes which can be prepared ahead of time. Many foods can be pre-made—or better yet, pre-purchased—and warmed up on the big day. With this approach, if problems in preparation do arise, it won’t be while your guests are waiting to eat. Also, check all your non-food items a few days ahead to be certain yuo have enough silverware, napkins, and serving dishes. You can even set the table the day before. The less you have to think about on the actual holiday, the better.
- Move Furniture – The furniture in your living room wasn’t placed there for a party. A lot of your everyday furniture will be in the way in a party setting. Move end tables and magazine racks to a room that will be off-limits to guests. Wood surfaces or antiques, which could be ruined when Uncle Lou sets his drink on them, will also need to be moved out of harm’s way. Many remaining items, like coffee tables, desks, and even bookcases, can be repurposed to accommodate appetizers, beverages, or drinkware.
- Get Creative with Seating – If you do the math, you’ll probably find that you have invited more guests than you have chairs in which to seat them. Look around your home and you may have computer chairs, stools, or even camping chairs you could use. You can also scatter various pillows across the floor or on window seats. If you discover ahead of time that you are short on seating, pillows are the best and cheapest option. Buy a variety of styles that match your design motif for a trendy touch you can keep long after the holidays have passed.
- Calming Cocktails – Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, which is why you want to get cocktails into the hands of your guests as quickly as possible. It’s a safe bet guests won’t even notice that dinner is two hours late if they’ve been satisfied with cocktails. Be sure to limit the drink options you offer so you’re not spending the day tending bar. Find drinks you can prepare ahead of time and put them in a punch bowl or pitcher so guest only have to add ice. Don’t forget to have beverages for non-drinkers and kids, too.
- Limit Access – Separate Home Space from Party Space. Curious guests may wander into rooms you’d prefer were kept private. You can politely direct traffic by placing decorations on stairs or by putting buffet tables or cocktail carts in front of doorways as a subliminal Keep Out sign.
Follow these simple tips and, not only will your friends and loved ones have a wonderful and memorable day in your beautiful home, but you’ll be able to quickly get your living space back to normal to enjoy the rest of the holiday.