9 Top Tips To Elevate Your Festive Hosting Skills

December is a hectic month, with last-minute present shopping, catching up with loved ones, and finding the perfect party dress. The last thing I need is the added stress of hosting duties. But fear not, there are simple ways to make elevated festive entertaining look and feel effortless. After all, Christmas should be about fun, family, and friends – not worrying about whether your guests are having a good time while you’re fussing in the kitchen.

1. Set the festive atmosphere

Setting the atmosphere is key when hosting Christmas drinks. I want my guests to feel welcome, relaxed, and festive the moment they walk through the door. I keep a Christmas candle burning in my hallway and hang fairy lights wherever possible.

For the playlist, I avoid the generic Now That’s What I Call Christmas and instead combine a blend of old-school classics with unexpected Christmas covers, like Destiny’s Child’s Silent Night or Amy Winehouse’s I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. And of course, I make sure to keep the drinks flowing, whether it’s cocktails, mocktails, bubbles, wine, or tea and coffee (not forgetting decaf).

2. Finish your dinner party on a high

For high-impact dining that doesn’t take away from spending time with my loved ones, I plan dishes that I can make ahead of time. I roast a chicken and serve it with pre-prepared side dishes, like flavorsome salads, potatoes slathered in minted butter, and fresh, warm bread. And instead of plating up by myself in the kitchen, I serve food ‘family style’ in the center of the table.

For dessert, I keep it simple with a shop-bought tart or ice cream with fresh berries. An after-dinner coffee is a non-negotiable (even better when poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream to create an affogato); these are the elegant details that take my hosting from nice-enough to unforgettable.

3. Embrace your theme

Christmas is the perfect time of year to embrace all things fun, so I don’t be afraid to lean into a theme. I start with one central décor point – an ornate serving dish, for example – and build the rest of the table around it. I add candles, festive greenery (bonus points if it’s foraged when I’m out and about), and small vases with wintery florals for a beautifully curated look.

4. Elevate your New Year’s Eve tipple

For New Year’s Eve, I elevate my tipple with Champagne (or non-alcoholic fizz) at midnight and pre-batched cocktails in the lead up. I add clementines or cranberries to a rum punch, or impress guests with an espresso martini on arrival. This way, I can enjoy the moment with my friends and family, rather than mixing and muddling my way through the night.

5. Don’t forget the details

The little things can make a big impact when it comes to hosting. Consider adding personalized touches, like place cards or a custom playlist. And don’t forget about lighting – soft, warm lighting can create a cozy and inviting atmosphere. These small details can make a big difference in making your guests feel special and taken care of.

6. Plan ahead

One of the keys to stress-free hosting is to plan ahead as much as possible. Make a detailed shopping list and consider ordering groceries online to save time. If you’re serving a sit-down meal, plan the menu and any necessary prep work in advance. And don’t forget to delegate tasks to guests, if possible – they’ll likely be happy to help and it will take some of the pressure off of you. By planning ahead, you can relax and enjoy the party knowing that everything is taken care of.

7. Have a backup plan

Even with the best planning, things can go wrong. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan in place. If you’re cooking a big meal, have a few simple backup dishes in mind in case something doesn’t turn out as planned. If you’re serving drinks, have a variety of options available in case you run out of one thing. And most importantly, have a positive attitude and go with the flow. By being prepared for the unexpected, you can handle any hiccups with grace and keep the party going.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Hosting a party can be a lot of work, and there’s no shame in asking for help. Whether it’s delegating tasks to guests or hiring a professional caterer or bartender, getting help can take some of the pressure off of you and allow you to enjoy the party. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – chances are, your guests will be happy to lend a hand.

9. Have fun

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to have fun. Don’t get too caught up in the details and remember to enjoy yourself. After all, the point of hosting a party is to bring people together and create happy memories. So put on some music, pour yourself a drink, and enjoy the company of your loved ones.

I hope these tips have inspired you to elevate your festive entertaining this season. Remember, the key is to plan ahead, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and most importantly, have fun. By focusing on the atmosphere, the food, and the details, you can create a memorable and enjoyable experience for you and your guests. Happy hosting!

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