Make your event an occasion to be remembered—without driving yourself crazy
By Katrina Caruso
Hosting friends and family during the holidays is one of the best parts of the season, but the preparations beforehand can become overwhelming. Here’s how to be the host with the most—without burning yourself out.
To get started, ask yourself whom you’ll be inviting. This will help you narrow down the kind of party you want to host. A full sit-down meal is nice for an intimate group of four to eight people but can get out of hand beyond that point. Similarly, a casual game night with finger foods works best with a handful of people but may feel cramped with 10 or more guests. If you want to have a lot of people over, a cocktail soirée or a buffet/potluck may be the best option. You’re the one who knows your guests the best.
– Send out the invitations in time to provide at least two week’s notice—three or even four weeks would be better—so that people can prioritize your party. This time of year gets busy quickly, and you want to ensure your guests can make it.
You can find plenty of fun and free E-vites available online that make creating e-mailing invitations a breeze. If you’re planning a gift exchange, you can use Draw Names to help.
– Plan the menu (we have some ideas here). Which drinks will be served? Which hors d’oeuvres? What will your recipes require? What do you already have at home? If you’re hosting a potluck, delegate who brings what in advance to avoid too many desserts and no salads.
– Choose your decorations. You most likely already own some, but you’ll know if you’re missing something once you decide on the look you want.
– Start a shopping list for your alcohol, cooking ingredients, decorations, and any cleaning products you may need.
– A few days before, go grocery shopping and start cleaning the home. Baking can be done a few days before to cut down on set-up on the day.
– The day before, prep any appetizers and finger foods and get started on decorating.
– The day of the party, set up different zones in your home (a bar, an appetizer table, the buffet table, the Secret Santa table, etc.) and finish cooking, decorating, and last-minute cleaning.
– Don’t forget to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask your spouse, a friend, or a family member (someone who is invited to the party) to do small tasks for you—maybe someone can get the ice, set up the bar, or help prep some appetizers.
– Don’t overextend yourself: focus on your party and don’t make too many other commitments that same week.
– Don’t forget to have fun! Play some fun holiday music to get yourself in the spirit and take breaks as needed.