The holiday season is one of the best times to host fun gatherings and celebrate with those you care for the most, your family and friends. It is also a perfect time to show off your cooking skills. Hosting this holiday for most of us probably means you want your guests to feel warmly welcomed and for the dinner and other meals to run smoothly.
So what does it take to achieve that?
The secret to welcoming your family and friends effortlessly is to prepare ahead. You already know that a great holiday dinner isn’t only about scrumptious food; it’s the planning and effort that goes into making a fantastic night for your family and friends that makes a huge difference.
From tidying up and decorating your home to creating unique centerpieces, and a relaxed yet fun atmosphere, the perfect playlist…getting these simple details right can make a fantastic night for you and your guests. If you feel a little intimidated hosting a dinner this holiday season, don’t you worry.
Here, I have compiled some of the best hosting ideas and tips we have learned over the years to create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere for your guests.
Modern Potluck Dinner
Hosting a holiday party deserves a bit of work.
You don’t want to prepare everything from scratch. Not even the most experienced hosts, home cooks or pro chefs do that. It may SEEM as if they do…but that’s the secret right there. You can’t tell. While that’s a story for another day, I want to introduce the idea of the modern potluck.
This ain’t the regular church or school potluck that would look like it was world culture day.
So this year, if you want to skip all the hard work of preparing dinner all by yourself, why not turn your holiday dinner party into a modern potluck? Tell your guests exactly what to bring that would complement everything else that is being served. Provide options to choose from. Make it flexible.
Trust me; you can never go wrong with a planned potluck. It is a great way to get your friends and family to contribute to your party (making it interactive and fun) and host your guests with minimum effort. What’s more, you can have a little of every meal and even swap recipes with your guests.
Stock the bar
A great way to please your guests during a holiday dinner is to keep the drinks flowing.
Stock the bar with their favorite drinks. I’m talking wine, beer, whiskeys, tequila, gin, or rum. The last thing you want to worry about is running out of drinks in the middle of your party, just when it was getting started.
No one really wants to google up the nearest liquor store (that’s open) and leave the party.
Here’s an excellent idea for you; if you have your hands full, set simple cocktail ingredients on the bar so your guests can help themselves anytime when they arrive. Print out the recipe so they can put together a drink independently. Alternatively, have one of your guests be the master mixologist of the night.
For some fantastic cocktail ideas that you can make yourself at home with only a few ingredients and a few steps, make sure you’re following us on social media. Toni and I are now starting Sip Sip Hooray every Friday on Instagram. This is long overdue. She and I mix drinks during the week regularly. It’s about time we made it a recurring episode so you too can enjoy craft cocktails at home.
Create an epic food board
The truth is guests can be impatient – they want to nibble on snacks and appetizers while waiting for dinner. This is where a good charcuterie board comes in. The board can work well as a centerpiece, it is easy to arrange, and you can play around with the presentation.
The best thing is that there are no rules when it comes to charcuterie boards. Like I make mine, you can make yours spectacular by arranging a little bit of everything, cheese, fruits, nuts, crusty bread, crackers, and herbs.
Check out THIS POST for some ideas on how to arrange a charcuterie board. A board of this size is great for hosting a holiday party for 6-8 people if it will be the main event, or up to 15-20 if it serves as a starter.
How about a good playlist?
If you want your party to flow smoothly, curate a killer playlist. Music will lift your guest’s spirits and keep the mood light and lively during the party, so don’t limit yourself when it comes to the playlist. Create a playlist with your guests’ favorite tracks and keep the music flowing.
I like to set up speakers in all rooms. And yes, that even includes the half-bath or the powder room. It’s just like a restaurant, right? Bluetooth speakers are all you need. I use my trusty Alexa to play the same music throughout the whole house.
Work with a centerpiece and color theme
You want to keep your decorations simple and elegant. Don’t clutter your space and distract your guests. Try working with what you have. Instead of a bouquet as a centerpiece, why not use a cake stand, a candle, fresh herbs, or succulents? These are simple and unique ways to add a little flair to your table.
Whatever you choose as your centerpiece, work with a simple color scheme around it to create a picturesque tablescape for your holiday party. Choose one light color and one dark color, for example, sage green, mustard yellow or rust for napkins and cream/white for plates (FALL THEME) or an ivory+burgundy or emerald green combination (WINTER) to create a simple but impactful color scheme.
I recommend setting the scene with low lighting if you want a relaxed and intimate ambiance. I find overhead lighting to be incredibly harsh. If you have dimmers, use them for this occasion.
Find it too dark? Turn on the table lamps. Light candles on the dining table, the kitchen counters, the island, and votives throughout your home.
Little details like these are simple ways to transform your home from the ordinary weeknight dinner to hosting the extraordinary holiday dinner party.
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We can’t wait to see what amazing dinners you’ll host this holiday season!