Perhaps the most important part about the holidays is the gatherings. Being together with your loved ones, celebrating the year that’s passed and making spirits bright is what we most look forward to. Opening your home up for hosting during this season can feel daunting but it doesn’t need to be. In our opinions, being a good host is mostly about learning to make it easy on yourself so that when the time comes you can actually enjoy it. We’ve outlined some of our entertaining go-tos so that you can spend more time celebrating and less time stressing.
You definitely don’t need to serve up a multi-course meal to make your guests feel like you care. We like to focus on making a couple great dishes and outsourcing the rest. The most important thing is to choose recipes that can be prepped ahead of time. A hearty appetizer like a well-stocked cheeseboard, chips with a homemade dip, or classic shrimp cocktail are liked by nearly everyone and all can be made ahead of time. For the main event, braised meats or soups are great because they get better the longer they cook meaning you can prep a day before and serve the following day. For the rest of the menu items like dessert or salad, buy it elsewhere or ask guests to bring.
Good libations are always needed to start off a party. A great way to make things feel festive is to serve up a glass of champagne as guests arrive. There is something about bubbles that immediately puts everyone in the spirit. For cocktails, it depends on your crowd and your preferences but to keep things easy we like to focus on a set cocktail for the night that compliments the meal. That way you can batch it and serve it without having to take custom drink orders. Martinis, margaritas, and punch all make a great batch cocktail Of course, we always like to have some beer, wine, and classic mix-drink ingredients on hand. Plus, be sure to have options for those who want to skip alcohol.
Of equal importance to the drinks and food you serve is the overall vibe of your home. When guests arrive be sure to have the lights dimmed, candles lit, and music playing. Consider the spaces in your home that guests will use and focus there. In the bathroom, leave out a nice hand towel and light a candle. In the living room, start the fire and set out any extra seating.