Hosting for the holidays — some people love it, some people will do anything they can to avoid it. Even if it is your cup of tea, it’s likely the prospect of hosting extended family or friends for the holidays brings its fair share of stress. Whether you’re a first-time host or a seasoned party pro, we’ve got you covered with some expert tips on how to turn your home into a holiday destination that will leave your loved ones buzzing.
Plan a Warm Welcome
A successful holiday gathering starts at the front door. Prep for your guests’ arrival by making a fun, seasonal welcome cocktail, such as a classic Wassail or a holiday twist on a traditional Moscow Mule. As they step into the winter wonderland of your home, they’ll appreciate that the party starts right away. To pair with your perfectly crafted welcome drink, consider having a few light appetizers out when everyone arrives. A simple charcuterie platter will give your guests plenty to graze on while they’re waiting for dinner. Or, you can level up the appetizer game a little, with something like these Cranberry Brie Bites and these Christmas Ornament Cheese Balls.
Set the Mood Early On
Once your guests are happily sipping on festive drinks, chatting and snacking, the last thing you want to do is have to scramble to set the mood. Before your guests arrive, put on some classic holiday tunes, or a simple, cheerful instrumental playlist to underscore the evening. Maybe pop a holiday movie on the television on low volume or on mute, too, for added ambiance. You’ll definitely want to invest in a scented candle or two, as well as lots of votive candles dotted around the kitchen, living and dining areas.
Turn your holiday gathering from good to great with the right decor. It doesn’t need to be flashy — some simple, elegant wintry touches added around the home make a world of difference. Brighten up your living room and kitchen with some soft, twinkling string lights, and hang a holiday garland over the mantle. Consider purchasing fun, holiday-themed cocktail napkins and servingware ahead of time, so you can keep the festive vibes going down to the smallest detail. Tying the decor into unexpected places, such as the guest bathroom, can also add a sense of cohesion to your home and make every room feel a little more magical.
A Soft Place to Land
If you’re hosting people overnight, you’ll want to make sure you put extra care towards preparing the areas they’ll be sleeping. Freshen up any bedding, and add a few touches of holiday cheer, such as through the use of festive pillows and a candle or two. To ensure your guests have everything they need for a comfortable rest, stock up your bathrooms with overnight essentials. A welcome basket is also a nice touch that your guests will truly appreciate. Grab a wicker basket and stock it with a comfy pair of slippers, a few bottles of water, a spare phone charger, a fresh toothbrush — really, anything that you think would make your guest’s stay more pleasant.
Maximize Your Hosting Space
Depending on how many people you are planning on hosting, consider rearranging some of your furniture in the areas where guests will spend most of their time. Pull any tables to the edges of the room and leave the center more open, so your guests can mingle freely without the room feeling crowded. Add additional seating, which can be anything from cushy ottomans to sleek folding chairs, to the space as well. You’ll also want to put away anything breakable or valuable to you ahead of time — you don’t want to have to deal with someone accidentally bumping into your favorite flower vase in the middle of all the festivities. Make it clear where the party boundaries end by simply closing off any doors you don’t want curious guests wandering into. If you have pets — especially pets that aren’t as comfortable with people — be sure to provide them with space to easily relax away from all the excitement.
Who doesn’t love a little competition during the holidays? Get your guests to engage with each other over a fun, casual group activity or game. Avoid a game that requires your guests to learn a whole rulebook cover to cover — instead, opt for a low-stress, easy-to-understand game that allows everyone to chat while they play. Set up a card game in a corner of the living room, for instance, or make the party itself a themed competition, such as an ugly sweater contest.
Fabulous Festive Feasts
At any holiday gathering, dinner is the star of the show. However, you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen all night, stressing over a stovetop while your guests enjoy an evening without you! Make dinner as hassle-free as possible by prepping as much as you can ahead of time. Something like a lasagna or a casserole can be made a few days before your gathering and stored in the freezer. Then, when it’s time to serve, simply pop it in the oven and you’re set. For something a little fancier, go for a Beef Wellington, which can be almost fully prepared (up to the pastry wrapping stage) 24 hours in advance, too. Of course, you can’t forget about dessert. Cap the night with some holiday cookies or seasonally-flavored ice cream.
There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays
This holiday season, take the opportunity to showcase your stunning new Lafferty home and host the ultimate holiday get-together. Even if it’s your first time hosting, these tips will help you plan and execute a holiday party that will be the highlight of the year.