The annual hosting season is upon us and I can’t wait. I love bringing our family and friends together for a little quality time and some good food. Whether we’re gathering for a bonfire in the backyard or setting the table for a big holiday meal I’m excited to host. I know that’s not the case for everyone though. To help those who might feel like hosting a holiday dinner or friendly soirée is beyond their skill set I put together a list of tips to make the events a little more manageable and dare I say, even fun! Below are five tips for making hosting the holidays (or any event) a little more manageable.
1. Make a List
If you’ve read the blog or followed me for any length of time it won’t come as a shock that I love a list. To help keep my thoughts organized I make a list of all the supplies I need for whatever the event is. For example, any time I plan a shower (baby, bridal, or other) I break my list up into three categories: Food, Essentials, and Decor. From there I plan out what I need for each category and decide which store I can get items from. From there I make a store list so if I’m going somewhere like Costco I know what items I can grab from each list at the one spot. I know, I know; it sounds like a bit much but I promise it makes things easier. It keeps me from having to double back to a store and if someone offers to pick things up I can just send them a picture of the list.
2. Plan to Assign Tasks
One of the things that used to stress me out the most with holidays was people offering to help do things. I know, it sounds like it would be, ya know, helpful. My mind is always going a mile a minute though while I’m prepping a big meal and having to stop to think of what someone could do to help just felt overwhelming. After 4+ years of hosting big holiday dinners though I’ve realized the best thing to do is prepare to assign tasks beforehand.
What works for me is taking tasks that I know someone else could do, say peeling potatoes, and prepping the tasks before people get to my house. That way when someone says “What can I do,” I can simply point to an already prepared task. The potatoes for example; I set out a bowl, a bag of potatoes, a plastic bag for skins, and a peeler all together on the counter. That way the task is ready to go and I don’t have to give them directions to find all the items in the kitchen that they need.
3. Pre-Label Dishes
When I first started hosting our families for the holidays I searched Pinterest for some holiday inspiration. I ran across this next tip in another blog and I thought it was genius. I’ve used it every year since when prepping for our holiday gatherings.
If you are the one hosting the big holiday meal you’re likely also the one planning the menu. To decrease the number of times I’m asked where a bowl is or a platter I pre-label the dishes. I set out the ones I will need and put sticky notes on them with the dish that I plan to go in them. This has saved me from having to constantly direct people to dishes in the kitchen (or stop and hung for them myself) or having to swap something from one dish to another to make room on the table. I often do this the night before the big event to limit my to do list the morning of.
4. Make Place Settings
I know, one more thing to add to the list, hear my out though. People like to be told what to do. In a large crowd there’s always the question of “Where do we sit.” If you haven’t caught on to the theme yet, I don’t like to have to answer a ton of questions on the fly. I want people to be able to guide themselves. Preparing place settings, even simple cards with the individual’s name laid on the plate, help guests settle in on their own.
5. Let People Know What to Bring
My last tip is pretty simple, tell people what to bring. I was raised to never show up as a guest empty handed. I got that from my grandparents. On top of not wanting to look like an ill mannered guest, most people have dishes they like to have on certain holidays. Letting people bring their favorite holiday dish helps lighten the load from you on meal prep and allows them to show up with something you actually need. Trust me, better they bring an item you assigned rather than you get six fruit cakes. (Now, if everyone’s bringing wine that’s different.)