10 Holiday Hosting Tips

10 Holiday Hosting Tips

One of my favorite things to look forward to each year is the holiday season. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my two favorite holidays and every year I host the holiday dinner for our families.

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My Grandmother

My hosting inspiration has always come mostly from my late grandmother, Norbina. Some of my most cherished memories of the holidays involve being around my grandparent’s dining room table. My grandparents had 6 children, all of whom were married and had children of their own. So as you can imagine there were a lot of people crammed together with barely any elbow room around their table. But it didn’t matter because we were together – and that was the purpose of it all.

After my grandparents passed my godmother picked up the hosting duties. Over the years the guest list has slimmed out a bit (although our group is still larger than average)  for various reasons. When I got married in 2016 I took over the hosting duties which my godmother was happy to pass down to me.

Hosting has mostly been enjoyable, partly because it is something I always looked forward to doing! But I will admit it can be stressful at times. In today’s post, I want to share a few things I’ve learned over the past few years that have helped me to happily and successfully host the holiday dinner gatherings for my family. I hope that you find this helpful!

 

1) Decorate and Set Your Table The Night Before

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This is huge. On the morning of hosting the only thing you want to be worrying about is the food. The night prior be sure to pull out all the silverware and plates you will be using. Make sure everything is spotless if you only use certain plates and silverware for the holidays. Setting your table the night before is a major time saver.
In addition to this, be sure to pull out the necessary serving dishes and utensils the night before as well. That way you won’t be digging around for them in the morning. One of the things I look forward to during the holidays is being able to use some of my grandmother’s serving platters that were passed down to me.

 

2) Pre Cook Certain Things

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If there is anything that you can cook ahead of time – take the opportunity to do it the day before. I am a stay at home mom/homemaker currently but before this, I used to always take the day before Thanksgiving or Christmas off of work so that I could prepare and pre-cook whatever I could.

The day before a holiday dinner is when I do all of the necessary baking; such as pies and other desserts. There’s no way I would be able to fit in time to make something like pies the day of because our oven is occupied most of the morning.
The other thing we always prepare the night before is our Portuguese Stuffing. Well – I should say Kevin’s Portuguese Stuffing because he’s the one who makes it!  Kevin prepares it the night before and on the morning of we heat it up in the oven before guests arrive.

3) Plan Your Menu Ahead of Time

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During the two weeks (or sooner) before the holiday, it’s a good idea to start finalizing your menu, and what food if any, that guests will be bringing that way you can be sure you aren’t forgetting anything and so you can start making a game plan for your grocery shopping.

4) Stock Up on Pantry Items In Advance

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Once you have your menu sorted out, make a master grocery list of everything that you will need to buy. Pick out the pantry/shelf safe items from the list and get those things ahead of time if possible. By doing this you will be able to split up the food cost instead of spending one grand amount during the unavoidable “week of” grocery trip for items that need to be fresh like produce and meat. I started picking up my shelf-stable items in September this year – but even a week or two ahead of time is helpful to lessen the stress.

5) Consider a Potluck Dinner

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Our potluck Thanksgiving spread in2016

Since we have such a large guest list (18-22) we have always done potluck style holiday dinners. I will make the “main” course as well as dessert and a couple of sides and my guests will each all bring a dish as well. This has always been what works best for us. I cannot imagine making a full dinner for 20 people however, it would be less of an issue if I had fewer guests. Either way – find a system that works for your family, and don’t be afraid to ask people if they want to bring a dish! Most people want to help in some way when coming to someone else’s home for dinner.

6) Print Out Recipes That You Don’t Know By Heart

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Often times the food we prepare for the holidays aren’t things we cook all the time. If you’re like me, you’ve used the internet to your advantage to find recipes.
However, with this, some issues can arise: While cooking you have to keep going back to your phone to read the next step and then you discover it’s locked! >:O or the Pinterest page refreshed! Then your hands are dirty and you have to keep cleaning them before touching the screen!
Last year I took it upon myself to print out all the recipes I would be using and kept the printed recipes in my kitchen while I cooked. I found it to be so much easier.

7) Always Be Prepared For An Extra Guest (…or 2)

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The night before my very first year hosting Thanksgiving I thought I had it all under control. Table set, pies made, decorations perfectly placed – you name it. And then I got a text saying that one of my guests wanted to bring two additional people with them. I already had such a large guest count but I couldn’t find it in my heart to say no to them on Thanksgiving – especially since these people were family members of the person who was asking. It’s stressful  when something like this is dropped on you the night before but it can and sometimes does happen. Always plan for the possibility of an extra guest.

Food wasn’t the issue for me here as we always cook for an army during the holidays, but rather it was seating I was concerned about. Thankfully I was able to borrow two additional chairs and made it work out in the end, though it was tight. Ever since that experience I always have it in the back of my mind to be prepared for an extra guest.

8) Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

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This is easier said than done, but I think it’s important to remember that even though you are hosting the holidays for your guests, it’s still your holiday to enjoy too. Try not to be panic if your turkey doesn’t finish at the exact time you planned for – most people have no problem mingling a bit before the meal. Don’t be too proud to accept help when it’s offered to you! If someone offers to stir a pot, wash a dish, etc – let them!

9) EAT!

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I give the same advice to people who are planning their wedding, and that is to make sure you sit down and enjoy your meal. You are putting so much work into making this dinner a pleasant experience for your guests but at the end of the day, you need to make sure that you enjoy it too. Don’t feel like you need to constantly be running around doing this and that. Sit down. Enjoy your meal. This is your holiday too!

10) Two Words: LEFTOVER CONTAINERS

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As much as I genuinely enjoy hosting the holidays there is one major pet peeve of mine and that is being left with ALL. THE. LEFTOVERS.  I always buy a bulk of small tin foil containers and I ask every single guest to take some leftovers with them. I even pack their container for them if I have to!  Making sure that everyone takes home a meal-sized portion of leftovers makes leftovers a lot easier to manage and it also makes me feel better that they’re most likely being eaten instead of going to the trash (because Kevin and I certainly can’t eat all the leftovers!)

 

Those are my 10 tips for holiday hosting! I hope that this post was helpful 🙂 Have a lovely Wednesday!

Sending love and light,

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