You’ve survived the big move and settled into this new place you call home. You held an intimate housewarming party, and have happily hosted a few guests in the weeks since you moved in.
But the holidays are a different animal.
Between the cooking, the cleaning, and the careful juggling of your wonderful family’s whims, hosting a holiday party can be a challenge – especially when it’s your first time hosting at a brand new house.
But while it may be unfamiliar territory to you, you’re not alone. Here are some tips from hardened holiday hosts to help you survive the first big gathering at your new house.
Plan Meals in Advance
Food preparation is one of the biggest sources of holiday hosting stress. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest to avoid. Just do some good, old-fashioned meal prep!
Decide what you’re cooking at least a week before the main event (now is a good time to find out if any of your guests have allergies). If you want to try a new recipe, it’s best to give it a test-run beforehand – you never know if a dish needs to cook for just a few minutes more or a few minutes less.
Since it’s your first time hosting, you should keep the meal relatively streamlined, with a simple starter, a few sides, and a classic entree you already know how to make. Your guests will likely be thrilled to contribute their favourite home-made desserts.
Don’t wait until Christmas Eve to do your grocery shopping for the big day, because the grocery stores will be picked over by then. Buy everything a few days beforehand.
Help Your Guests Stay Mess-Free
No one likes to leave crumbs on the coffee table. Most people do their best to keep tidy and clean when they’re visiting someone else’s home. But at the same time, if your guests are anything like me, they won’t want to bother you with questions like, “Where are the coasters?”, or, “Which one’s the garbage and which is the recycling?”
To minimize clean-up and make life easier for your guests, do what you can to address these things in advance.
If you’re putting out a bowl of munchies, throw a pile of napkins next to it. If your garbage isn’t straightforward or easy to find, make a sign. Put out coasters before people arrive. And make sure to stock the bathroom with extra toilet paper!
Leave Time for Last-Minute Changes
Maybe you forgot to pick up whipped cream. Perhaps you realized you’d neglected to clean that little nook behind the fridge. Or, in a worst case scenario, you suddenly recalled that one of your relatives is deathly allergic to the principal ingredient in your pecan pie.
Point is, when you’re planning a big holiday gathering, there are always little things that come up the night before (or the morning of) the action. It’s important to give yourself some time allowance to take care of those unexpected tasks.
In other words, plan to get everything done at least a few hours before everyone arrives. Those few extra hours could become precious!