Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is one big party season. If you’re a person who likes to host, this season is a frenzy of parties. While it’s a joy to have the home everyone wants to dine at and visit (those special recipes keep friends and family coming back for more), parties have lots of details that need to be managed. We love a good fete and want to make your holiday hosting duties simpler. We’ve crafted a list of easy hosting tips, ideas and checklists to make organizing a breeze. Here’s to more soirees that are blasts for the guests and their brave hosts, too.
Let’s start with the planning. How many people do you want to invite? Home hosting often means finite party space. Unless you are holding an open house, where people can leisurely arrive over a span of time, don’t invite more guests than space allows. The holidays are not the time to be exclusionary, but there is nothing that says you have to host a rager at your house. The best parties have controlled invite lists but enough flexibility to welcome the unexpected. If you live in a climate with great winter weather, consider having your get-together outside, but make sure to have contingencies for cold evening weather (e.g., outdoor heaters) or rain (e.g., a tent or covered patio).
After you select the date and time and finalize the guest list, focus on the party’s theme. Feel free to go specific and celebrate a particular day, or bring all the holidays together into one festive melting pot. Determining the theme will help bring the other details—like food, music and presentation—into focus.
Bring out a calculator—it’s time to define the budget. Food is critical. Serving heavy appetizers instead of a full meal is an efficient way to feed your guests without spending the king’s ransom. If you plan to provide a full meal, it doesn’t have to be extravagant. One protein and multiple side options make for a hearty spread. To save time and expense, consider making your party a potluck—you supply the main, while your guests bring the sides. To save yourself energy, consider making part or all of the meal ahead of time and freezing it until ready to serve. When it comes to consumables, alcohol is the most expensive cost at a party. If your party budget is small but mighty, consider nixing booze from your list and making your party BYOB. Or offer one signature cocktail and an array of soft options. If you do serve booze, it’s best to have a heavier food—crudité won’t cut it.
Ambiance is a vital part of any party. A festive atmosphere is always in order. You don’t need to spend hours hanging streamers or decorations to create a party environment. Music is critical to setting the mood. Simple, elegant flower arrangements or seasonal plants are always appropriate. Depending on the theme, balloons can be a hit.
Keep place settings simple. Chargers are nice but not necessary. No one will judge you if you set a table with fancy paper napkins instead of cloth ones. Unless you are serving multiple courses, don’t overdose on the eating utensils.
Serving food need not be complicated. Your coffee table makes the perfect appetizer station. For dinner, a buffet line or family-style are both easy options. If you live in a small space, turn your kitchen counter into the food and beverage hub. There’s no rule that says your stove can’t function as one step in the food buffet: Guests can serve themselves food prepared in heavy pots and pans directly from the cooking vessel.
Some parties lend themselves to casual socializing as the evening entertainment. If you feel the energy changing, activities are always welcome at holiday parties. Prepare ahead and organize a white elephant gift exchange, or have a few classic games to keep your guests entertained.
We could launch into a grand explanation of how to make cleanup easier, but there isn’t any one trick. You will have lots of dishes to wash and countertops to wipe down. If you have a Delta faucet featuring ShieldSpray Technology, the concentrated stream will make easy work of removing the food bits while the innovative shield of water keeps the mess and splashing at bay. You'll have fewer pots and pans to soak with this easy dish-cleaning technology. The best suggestion we can offer? Make sure you have enough trash bags, recycling bags and paper towels. Also, clean before you go to bed. Waking up to the previous night’s holiday party mess is no fun.
Every host wants to throw wonderful parties that are reminisced about for years to come, where the food and general splendor are lauded. With a little planning, you can make your parties THE parties everyone wants to attend. Here is a checklist to prepare for your next shindig.
PARTY PLANNING CHECKLIST: