Holiday Entertaining Survival Guide

Don’t let holiday entertaining psych you out. Get off Pinterest and banish those Norman Rockwell images from your head. No family is perfect and you shouldn’t expect your house or meals to live up to magazine ideals, either. Remember, the holidays are about enjoying time with friends and family— and plenty of good food!

If you want to survive a houseful of guests with a smile, here are a few simple ideas to keep in mind and make it a truly happy holiday.

Plan Ahead

Get ready for the holiday season by making a list of everything you need to do. Plan out your menu a few days before your event. Decide what dishes you can make ahead of time and reheat and figure out a cooking schedule for the dishes you have to make on the day of the gathering. It’s always better to feel more prepared during the holidays.


Thanksgiving Feast


Accept Help

Holiday prepping and cooking can be stressful, so accept any help that’s offered. Get the family involved early and assign everyone something to bring. The Sunday before the feast, make a list of everything you need from appetizers to coffee and note who’ll help with each task.

Accept Help from Family

Have a “Help Yourself” Station

Instead of worrying if your guests have enough food and drinks between meals, let them help themselves. Prepare a snack basket or bowl of fruit, mini bags of pretzels, granola bars, or put out a charcuterie board so your guests can eat when they’re hungry. Make sure your guests have enough to drink and set up a bar station in the dining room or kitchen. Put out a cocktail set with different alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks so they can mix up their own beverages throughout the night.


Premium Cocktail Set
Premium Cocktail Set


Serve an Easy Holiday Dessert

After dinner, your guests might be looking for a sweet treat. And what’s better than a hot chocolate bar with toppings? Start with your favorite flavored whipped cream and add marshmallows, candy canes, or crushed candy. Put out your best mugs and let everyone make their own personalized hot cocoa. Your guests will be impressed.


whipped cream and cocoa bar
Whipped Cream Maker


Keep the Kids Occupied

If you have kids at your parties, make sure you have holiday activities for them. One way to keep them entertained is by creating a cookie decorating station. Set out a tray of frosted cookies and prep bowls of chocolate chips, crushed mint chocolates, and sprinkles. Even the adults might want to get in on the fun.

Cookies decorated by kids

Reduce Holiday Stress

If you’re getting stressed about your holiday entertaining, just remember it doesn’t have to be perfect. Instead of focusing on shortcomings, think about what you can realistically handle and make a list. Prioritize the things you absolutely need to do and don’t worry if you have to adjust some of your plans if you don’t have enough time.

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8 Responses to Holiday Entertaining Survival Guide

  1. Jennifer Janney November 3, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    Cookie press is on backorder. Hope this is not a long delay. I’ve not knows PC to have backorder but in the last week you’ve sold out of a guest special and now back order on the cookie press. Should I be worried?

  2. Beth December 3, 2016 at 6:26 am #

    My girls would love flavored whipped creams!! Looks so easy to make!!

  3. lilia manubag January 6, 2017 at 4:24 am #

    my favorite is the rosemary lemon chicken. its so easy to make. my kids love it.

  4. Maureen Libby November 6, 2018 at 10:41 am #

    Menu planning is my specialty and lists, I love the Cocoa Cream Bar idea, hot cocoa is my favorite.

  5. Ruth Markham November 10, 2019 at 8:07 am #

    The Deluxe Cooking Blender will be a hit this fall making a sorts of soups and sauces. The best part is that it has a self cleaning feature.

  6. 690510 November 13, 2019 at 6:16 pm #

    We need a chip n dip set that can be flipped upside down and be used as a cake plate

  7. Cora November 10, 2020 at 7:34 pm #

    Love all these suggestions. I use a list for what We want to do and a list for shopping and a list for food. Yup I’m a list maker. Planning ahead for seating and food arrangement helps. Thanks for sharing

  8. Teresa norton November 11, 2021 at 11:07 am #

    I like hot fruit tea and hot chocolate. Those would be great at a help yourself station.

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