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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.