The holidays are supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”. The weeks surrounding the holidays should be filled with family and friends, laughter, beautifully wrapped parcels, tear jerking holiday music and movies – it’s no wonder that everything seems to magical this time of year. As your calendar begins to fill with social commitments for work, friends and family, it’s easy to get lost in the chaos that the holidays can create. Whether you are hosting a formal or casual gathering for a large or small group this season, following these quick and easy steps can help you stay calm and coast through any stress the holiday season can present.
Manage Your Expectations
First and foremost – manage your expectations. If you are tight on time, perhaps planning an elaborate five-course dinner entirely from scratch and decking ALL your halls with all that sparkles may not be reasonable; not to mention, could leave you hiding in the kitchen polishing off a bottle of wine. Choose a menu and décor that match your lifestyle and that won’t leave you melting into a puddle of stress trying to execute.
Once you have selected a theme and a food, plan and organize what you can in advance. This includes making a shopping list (don’t forget to check it twice!) for menu items and party supplies. Buy what you can in advance and save picking up the perishables for closer to the party. You may even be able to prepare some of your items a day or two before the party – this is also a great way to let flavours enhance! Organize your space, clean and decorate what you can in advance to save yourself from having to do everything the night before.
Keep it Simple
Don’t overcomplicate and make things so difficult that neither you nor your guests enjoy your time together. Do one thing well and go lighter on others. It’s easy to get caught up in perfectionism around the holiday season and loose sight of what this time of year is truly about. Take inspiration from some of the best recipes around, a handful of ingredients but delicious nonetheless – less is more.
Spend Time with Your Guests
Most importantly, don’t forget why you are hosting a gathering – to spend time together with your guests. There is nothing worse than being locked away, hovering over a hot stove, stressing and sweating about doing everything ‘just right’. Choose where to focus your energy and efforts. If dishing up beautifully crafted entrees is going to leave you spending the majority of the evening hidden away and stressed, why not set up a self-serve station? This could include taco bars, nacho bars, pasta bars – all manner of bars! Alleviate the pressure of cooking and let your guests customize their food they way they like it – no to mention, a self-serve station is way more fun and interactive. Guaranteed, your guests will have a far more memorable time spending time laughing together then watching the host become unravelled and frazzled.