Southern hospitality is engrained in me, and my mother is and always will be the goal hostess. I’ve learned a thing or two about entertaining from her, and I’m no stranger to holding the title of “host” myself as I’ve hosted many, many women on adventures around the world. Once the party is moved home and there are no new faces in sight, however, I tend to feel like I’m in a brand new role. Add in a couple of family dynamics or screaming kids, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
10 Holiday Entertaining Tips
It’s the most popular time of year to gather, and entertaining a group of people you love can be stressful. With even the simplest of gatherings, there are lots of things to think about. This holiday season, I wanted to share some encouraging words and thoughts about how to entertain with intention so you and your guests all have an enjoyable time!
On Holiday Party Day
Set the mood
Cheerful, magical, quiet, grown-up, kid-friendly, calm, bright, cozy, festive, elegant, extravagant, traditional – all great adjectives this time of year. Pick what you want your party to be and match the mood. For example, a magical, cozy, elegant, grown-up party might look like fine wine, candlelight, delicate decor, and lots of candlesticks in the center of the table. A cheerful, magical, kid-friendly party might involve colorful Christmas lights, plush festive pillows on the floor, buffet style dinner, and an earlier start.
Write it down
Pen and paper is my holy grail. Write down your to-do lists. Write down your holiday menu. And write down your guest list. Keep it all together (your favorite notebook will do!), do it as early as possible and savor the satisfaction of crossing things off! If you’re much more on the go, the Notes app works too.
Ask for help
If you have a plan, share it and ask for help! Unless you have some party planners on hand, then spouses, mothers, and in-laws are great extra hands for setting the table or grabbing fresh flowers.
Have extra gifts on hand
When you forgot to buy a gift for your cousin’s half-sister’s boyfriend who came to the holiday party – Amazon gift cards are key. It’s worth having a couple on hand paired with a thoughtful note so no one is left forgotten!
Don’t stress the details
A hostess with the mostest shouldn’t be doing dishes in the corner and taking themselves away from enjoying the party to worry about perfection. Decorate less, make more of one entree, do what makes sense for you to stress less.
In Priya Parker’s book “The Art of Gathering” (a favorite guide for hosting), she reminds us that it’s important to protect your guests, and that means exclusivity is important in moments. Too many cooks in the kitchen? Start a game in the living room.
If you’re hosting and you have little kids, find the balance of an end time. You want to create lasting memories, but you also want to take care of your mental health and that might mean asking everyone to head out 30 minutes before bed time. You can also leave the guests to set your babies down for bed time, lower the lights in the living area, and bring the party into the room furthest from the kiddos rooms. If you have the bandwidth, take a few minutes to make bedtime feel special for them, too, or ask someone else to do so. Read a Christmas story surrounded by Bedroom Christmas Decor.
Dress the part
Revisit your words and intention for this party and match the mood. But also, be comfortable!
If you have guests staying over
Check out these 9 Hosting Tips from Mama Murphy. Here are some key practical tips that never fail:
Ask about any dietary restrictions and favorite foods/drinks in advance.
Creature comforts of home – whether that be sparkling water or a special kind of creamer- will make your guests feel most comfortable.
Have baked goods on the counter for easy access to snacks for something homey.
Cookies in a cookie jar, nuts in a bowl in the middle (if there are no allergies), and chips in the pantry are great to have for hungry or picky guests (big or small). Encourage them to help themselves!
Happy holidays & happy hosting my friends!