It’s finally here! Kicking off with Thanksgiving and running for six weeks, “The Holidays” are officially underway. ‘Tis the season for festive gatherings, where the tantalizing aroma of delectable dishes takes center stage, and the joy of sharing a hearty meal with loved ones fills the air. If you’re donning the apron as the host this holiday season, we’ve got all you need to throw the perfect holiday gathering. Whether you’re a kitchen warrior or just beginning your culinary journey, these simple tips will make your holiday gatherings a breeze.
Plan of Attack: Strategize and Simplify
Before you tackle recipes and ingredient lists, set the stage for a stress-free culinary experience by planning ahead. Break down your cooking tasks into manageable steps in the weeks leading up to the event. Don’t shy away from enlisting the help of friends or family; a potluck-style gathering can not only ease your workload but also make everyone feel like a part of the culinary celebration. Plus, most people enjoy feeling like they helped the meal in some way, even if it’s something as simple as bringing rolls or cut-up veggies.
In addition, try being realistic about your expectations and desires for your holiday gathering. The whole point of get-togethers is to enjoy good food and each other’s company. If you’re too busy and stressed out with hosting duties, the party will pass you by. Keep things manageable so you can enjoy your gathering, too.
Create the Meal: Crafting a Feast for the Ages
The heart of any holiday celebration is undeniably the food, and as the host, you’re the fearless leader. Create a menu that strikes a balance between timeless classics and a couple of fun twists. Traditional favorites like succulent roast turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, and flavorful stuffing are surefire crowd-pleasers, but don’t hesitate to infuse your personal touch. Consider a cranberry chutney with a zesty citrus kick or a garlic parmesan brussel sprouts gratin to elevate the dining experience.
This also includes curating a menu that caters to the diverse dietary needs in today’s world. Consider your guest list and any dietary restrictions they may have. If you’re unsure about the specific restrictions, don’t hesitate to reach out! While you don’t have to make sure every item fits into their dietary restrictions, the guests with dietary restrictions will appreciate the thoughtfulness to ensure there’s something they can eat at the meal.
Attention to Details: Just Enough Isn’t Enough
Wanna know one of the most overlooked aspects of hosting your holiday feast?
It may seem like an obvious mistake most people aren’t making, but having just enough food for everyone is a very different gathering than having enough food for everyone.
Just enough food looks like having exactly six cookies for six people, five dinner rolls for the five guests in attendance, a veggie tray with six pieces of celery and ten carrots even though there are twelve people sharing the meal.
Enough food is having eight to ten cookies for six guests or putting out eight dinner rolls for the five guests in attendance. While you don’t have to go overboard and make an excessive amount of food (not everyone is going to partake in seconds), having a little bit extra helps guests feel welcome and safe taking their fill. A good rule of thumb is to add two or three more servings than the number of guests in attendance.
Cheers to the Culinary Experience: Libations and Beyond
No holiday meal is complete without a toast or two. Whether you’re serving up classic eggnog (or our favorite RumChata eggnog), mulled wine (like this delicious one), or a signature cocktail, you can add detail by making sure your beverage selection complements the feast. You can include non-alcoholic alternatives like sparkling cider or festive mocktails to cater to all preferences.
Encourage responsible drinking by providing ample water and non-alcoholic options. For those driving home, consider coordinating rideshares or offering assistance with transportation. A thoughtful host ensures that everyone enjoys the culinary celebration responsibly, creating a positive and memorable experience for all.
Invited to Stay: Make the Seat Matter
While the spotlight is on the food, it’s the feelings that make a lasting impression. Ensure your dining space is comfortable in cleanliness and room. Even if you have to be a little cozy to get everyone around the table, make sure there is enough space for plates and drinks. Try to make sure your chairs are comfortable and inviting, so your guests feel invited to enjoy their meal with the group.
Farewell with Flavor: Sending Guests off Satisfied
As the culinary celebration comes to an end, express your gratitude to guests for partaking in the feast. A heartfelt thank-you goes a long way in showing appreciation for their company and culinary camaraderie. Walk your guests to the door as much as possible and offer to send home some leftovers if you feel so inclined.
Relish the Culinary Triumph: A Feast to Remember
As the last guest bids farewell, take a moment to savor the satisfaction of a culinary triumph. Hosting a holiday meal is a worthy journey, and you deserve to relish the success of a well-executed menu. Reflect on what worked well and consider how you might change the experience in the future.
Whether you’re a seasoned kitchen warrior or a first-time culinary host, embrace the spirit of the season. Make your holiday meal an occasion to remember, where the focus on food and your guests creates an experience that lingers in the taste buds and hearts of your guests (all while not putting too much pressure on yourself).
Do you have a tip that helps your hosting duties go off without a hitch? Let us know! Tell us what you do to prepare for the holiday season.