These 5 Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining will teach you my tried and true ways I entertain during the holidays.
I love entertaining.
It is in my blood. I grew up doing it. From helping my mom cook and host camp meeting dinners at our church for a 100+ people, to family dinner parties on a regular basis, to huge summer cookouts, and basically everything and everything in between.
Even though I love it, I am not naive enough to say it doesn't come with its fair share of work.
The list can go on and on, but just because it is a lot of work doesn't mean it has to be stressful or that you can't actually enjoy your own party.
Over the years I have learned what works best for me and I want to share my top 5 tips that I do during the holidays for all the events we like to host - making them enjoyable and most importantly - Stress Free.
These can be used for your
- Thanksgiving meal
- Christmas Cookie Exchange
- Holiday Work Party
- Christmas Dinner
- or any event you are hosting - no matter how big or small.
My 5 Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining!
Tip #1 - Send Out Invites a Month Prior
Once November hits, everyone's calendars are packed until the end of the year. Let your guests know as far in advance as possible when your holiday celebrations are.
For example, we host a Friendsgiving every year and I like to send my invites out at the beginning of October and host the Friendsgiving at the beginning of November. That way it is more than likely to be before any family Thanksgiving dinners start and my guests have plenty of time to put in the calendar, get child care, etc.
Plus it's something holiday-related to look forward to!
Planning ahead and letting your friends and family know as far out as possible is the best! Calendars and schedules fill up FAST this time of year. You will never be too early to get yours on the calendar and let everyone know.
Tip #2 - Plan Out Your Menu 2 Weeks in Advance. Shop 1 Week in Advance.
Planning is the name of the game.
Plan your menu 2 weeks out from your party. Search Pinterest, look at your favorite food bloggers, and look over your best cookbooks (Southern Living's Dillards Holiday Cookbooks are THE BEST cookbook this time of year!), and get all your thoughts in order.
* Shameless plus - you can find all the FSS Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes here!*
Brainstorm and plan out what you will provide as a host 2 weeks prior. Having your menu planned before also allows you to let your guest know what you will be provided if they ask what to bring.
I love to provide the main as the host and have our guest bring their favorite sides, appetizers, and desserts. I can fill in holes where needed.
Don't forget about your drinks. We always have a stocked bar of
- dry wines
- sweet wines
- both reds & whites
- champagne/sparkling wines
- sweet tea
- fruit-infused water.
And if you have ever watched Justin and I's Tuesday Tannins on Instagram then you know we have a list of our favorite wines for you! You can find that here under "Tuesday Tannins" highlights.
I will do my shopping a week beforehand that way I have plenty of time to cook, clean, and prep for party day. One of the most stressful parts of throwing a party is trying to do a huge grocery trip a couple of days prior - and a lot of times it turns into multiple grocery trips.
Also, if you don't take away anything from this - ORDER YOUR GROCERIES ONLINE and go pick them up! Take 30 minutes to sit down and order everything you need and have someone else do the shopping for you. This is the biggest time saver and blessing to us all!
Tip #3 - Prep As Much Food Beforehand
THIS IS KEY.
Prepping beforehand is literally the name of the game and what will make your life so easy on the day of the party.
Look at your menu and see what can be made and put in the freezer done and ready to go.
Need some easy freeze-ahead menu items? Look no further.
- Broccoli Casserole
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Crunchy Cornflake Topping
- Pumpkin Pie
- Dinner Rolls
- Cornbread and Biscuit Dressing
- Bourbon Pecan and Chocolate Slab Bars
- Old Fashioned Pumpkin Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting
That way all you will have to do come party day is stick it in the oven and bake it!
For things that can't be frozen, make or prep as much as you can the day before.
The goal is to not actually have to cook the day off but rather just put dishes in the oven, assembling and setting out. 90% of things can be prepped days in advance or at the very least the day before. This will save you so much time come the actual party day!
Tip #4 - Clean Your House the Day Before
Just as much as you want to avoid cooking all the food on party day, you even more so want to avoid cleaning your house!
Do a deep clean the day before:
- Set your table (complete with getting the dishes out, silverware, and drinkware out and set)
- Get the decorations out and set them up the way you like
- Put out your glassware and drink station. Have your drink pitchers and containers set up and ready to be filled. The bar cart is stocked. And drink coolers ready to be loaded up right before the party.
- Clean the bathrooms. Dust the house. Mop the floors. Etc.
All of those kinds of things can be done and ready to go the day before. That way all that needs to be done the day of the party is a light vacuum, wiping down the bathroom and kitchen counters, lighting the candles, and start the music! (This is our go-to party playlist!)
You will feel like a champ when it's 2 hours before the party starts, everything is finished and ready to go, and you're just waiting for people to arrive!
Tip #5 - Enjoy Your Party!
What's the point of throwing a party if you can't enjoy it with your friends and family?!
I hear of too many people so stressed out during their party they didn't even enjoy it and don't want to do it again.
I get how that can happen. But with a little bit of planning and some prep beforehand - you can ensure everyone INCLUDING yourself will enjoy the night.
Pour yourself a drink, turn some good music on and welcome your guests with a smile and hug - stress-free - because you prepped and planned and all the work has been done.
Enjoy the food, enjoy your friends, enjoy life around the table with the ones you love, and most importantly enjoy kicking off the holiday season right!