Ah, the holidays. During this special time of year, it feels like you're perpetually stressed, broke, irritated and exhausted from trying to bring holiday magic to your family. If you're anything like me, Thanksgiving through New Year's Day is a sort of festive super bowl for anyone who cooks. I've hosted countless Halloween parties, Thanksgiving dinners, and Christmas gatherings. One thing I've learned through trial and error is the importance of planning before deciding to host any event during this season.
It can be so scary throwing your first party, especially during the holidays because the pressure is on to make it, well, magical. I am famous for not accepting any help before my parties and then being so worried about everyone else having a great time that I forget to eat all the food I spent hours preparing. Be better than me! With these five tips, I believe you can be.
Throwing a party during the holidays is as much for you as for your guest so please be sure to enjoy it! You're making memories that will last a lifetime after all. These are five tips I swear by to make sure that my parties go off as smoothly as possible. Comment below if you have any additional tips to share that we could all use!
+Plan Your Menu In Advance
This isn't the time to try out that to-die-for Ina Garten recipe you've had pinned for months or even a recipe you've seen here. Stick to tried and true dishes you know you can execute and literally outsource everything else.
If you're hosting Thanksgiving dinner and haven't the slightest clue how to make a turkey, don't. So many butcher shops and restaurants sell pre-cooked, perfectly seasoned birds that only need to be reheated before serving. If you're doing more of Chrismukkah thing, can I encourage you to just go to freaking Costco and buy a bunch of frozen appetizers, sides and mains and just enjoy your damn self? Truly.
Hell bent on showing off your culinary skills? (I get it, trust me) Make sure you plan out what you're going to serve far in advance. Plan backwards from the time you want to start serving dishes, and create a timeline to help keep you on schedule.
If you need some menu inspiration, check out this round-up by Southern Living.
+Serve One Batched Cocktail
I made the mistake one time of trying to make individual cocktails for my guests at a holiday party and I will never do that again. Instead of mingling and having a great time, I was hovered over our makeshift bar shaking up cocktails and taking orders. Now I know better. Pick one easy cocktail that can be made in a large batch and have that waiting for your guests. Encourage your friends or family to bring over beers or bottles of wine. Everyone will be tipsy and happy.
If you absolutely must, pick two different batched cocktails so guests feel like they have lots of options. Here is a great round up of boozy beverages.
+Curate A Playlist
These days, you don't have to shell out a ton of money to hear some great music during your party. Apps like Spotify and Youtube Music do an amazing job of curating playlist based on your preferences. Pick a vibe or a song you think sets the tone for the night and let your digital dj do the rest of the work.
Here is a good one to get you started:
+Accept Day Of Help Prepping
Now this one was super hard for me but I've learned to ask for and accept help when it's offered. If you've planned an ambitious menu, ask friends to come help you with the prep work (dicing onions, grating cheese, setting the table etc.,). Let go of the idea that you have to do it personally, for it to get done. Invite a few of your girls over, pour up some mimosas and give everyone a task. Make it fun!
+Outsource Clean Up
Whew, this is the real game changer. Nothing sucks more than having to clean up after an amazing party. No one want to tackle that massive pile of dishes, put away leftovers or clean sticky floors. If you're able, hire someone else to do it. It's not as expensive as you might think. Larger cleaning businesses like Molly Maids would charge somewhere in the $175+ range but smaller cleaning companies (like the one I use) will have better rates for a one off clean. You could also search for day of help on TaskRabbit, Craigslist or ask around to see if anyone is looking to earn a few extra bucks for a couple of hours of work. You might be surprised. Either way, look into it. You won't regret it!