Sharing My Entertaining Tips for the Holidays
Holidays often bring entertaining–whether hosting Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, a Christmas party, or Christmas Day itself, it can be overwhelming and leech fun away from the actual celebration. When I lived in D.C., my housemates and I did so much entertaining–a casual dinner party thrown together on a weeknight, regular costume parties, Friendsgiving, an enormous Christmas party… we all perfected our hosting skills over those years! The most recent season of life precluded that level of entertaining, but as we ease back into hosting, I thought it would be helpful to remind myself of some of my entertaining tips!
Prepare as much as you can in advance
I loved this post from my friend Jen at Magpie–a great reminder on the joys of preparation. Write things down! Take your time! Enjoy the process and be in the present as you prepare, so that you can be in the present while you’re hosting. I love to engage in long-range planning for more nebulous events (casual dinner party) and specific events (holiday parties).
Writing a to-do list is standard planning practice, and I also write a menu, a timeline of what needs to be cooked or prepared when, and a seating chart to make sure all is organized.
Work with what you have
Use the table linens you have (if you don’t have any, my favorites here). Create an arrangement that will last the season. Don’t go overboard with purchasing new things–or, if you do, make sure what you purchase can be used again. We don’t need different things for each party. Minor things can be changed to create a new look without spending money or accumulating more things.
Be discerning with your guest list
My rule of thumb is to invite people who will know at least one other person than yourself at the party. It’s a good way to make sure groups mesh with each other, and that no one feels left out. It’s also a good idea to keep your guest list to multiples of four. Sociologist Robin Dunbar (the creator of Dunbar’s Number, which indicates the maximum number of significant relationships an individual can sustain) has studied human interactions for his career, and has come to the conclusion that one conversation can support a maximum of four individuals before it devolves into a conversation between a smaller number with the other participants only listening. It’s a fascinating study and one I’ve been careful to verify using my own observations.
Overestimate your guests’ appetites
Too much food is always better than not enough! (The same goes for ice.) I have used this guide for how much cheese to include for cheese platters, but I always add more than recommended. (For putting together a cheese plate, I recommend my friend Heather‘s guide–you can find it in her highlights under “cheese school.”) I also always make more hors d’oeuvres than I think will be enough. Leftovers are just as good the next day, especially if you’re too tired to cook!
Don’t forget the music!
I need to get a new set of speakers, but having the right playlist is crucial for a good party. I love getting an insight into my hostess’s tastes by what music she selects. I’m excited to share winter and holiday playlists with you all soon.
What is your favorite entertaining tip?