If the thought of hosting for the holidays stresses you out then you need this step-by-step guide to hosting for the holidays stress-free!
Alex and I love opening up our home to friends and family, which is why I am so grateful to finally have a home that fits more than just 4 people at a time. It took us a few tries to get the whole hosting thing down, but we pretty much got it now! In this hosting for the holidays post, I am sharing our favorite hosting hacks that will allow you to throw a get-together everyone, even the host, will enjoy! Who says the holidays have to be stressful?
This post is all about hosting for the holidays stress-free!
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Hosting for the Holidays
Communicate the Date as Early as Possible
Most of our Christmas celebrations and get togethers fall on the same days each year, but it’s always a good idea to get the date on the everyone’s calendar at least a month ahead of time. My husband’s side likes using Facebook invites to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding times, the menu and last minute details or requests!
Potlucks are Life!
Unless we are just having another couple come over for dinner, I always do potlucks! There’s plenty to do when hosting, so let friends and family help by delegating the cooking responsibilities. I usually do just a dish or two and supply some basic refreshments like water, lemonade, tea and maybe a sangria.
Seating: Does everyone have a seat?
When you begin working on your guest list, take note of how many people are on your list. You will want to make sure you have enough seating for everyone. Our families are not super fancy, so some may end up eating on the couch.
Home Projects and Honey-Dos
Once I decide to host a shindig at our house, I start writing down my todo list. I start with a list of EVERYTHING I would like to have done before the party, such as random tasks like organizing the pantry, hanging our curtains or deep cleaning the rugs. I then prioritize the list and begin chipping away at the projects or decluttering tasks. Prioritize the list by the rooms or areas your guests will frequent the most. I don’t need to make “organize the basement” #1 on my list if my guests won’t be down there. I then hang the list on the fridge just in case Alex decides to help ;). This is how I got my board and batten wall done by last Christmas.
Grocery Shop Early
I start grocery shopping as early as possible. I add the supplies to my weekly grocery list and grab what I can. There is nothing more frustrating then having to go to several stores only because you procrastinated and didn’t pick up eggnog until the day of your get together. This doesn’t apply to fresh produce, I will hold off until just a day or two before.
Sidekick the Protein
In our family, the host usually provides the meat or main dish and the guests will bring a side to accompany it. To help cut costs, take advice from Jordan Page at funcheaporfree.com, by “letting the meat be the sidekick, not the hero”. Protein is expensive so get creative by doing a taco bar (why not?!), or shred your meat rather than serving each guest their own chicken breast or steak. This will stretch the meat further while reducing cost and waste. We do heavy appetizers for our Christmas Eve so I usually make a batch of hot hammies. This recipe is filling and requires less meat.
Reusable Party Supplies
Last year, I split the cost of a few drink dispensers with my Mom and came to realize there is a lot less waste than when serving individual bottles or cans. They look a lot nicer too. Don’t forget about cups, straws, and drink tags! If the group is small enough, I usually serve the drinks out of mason jars with numbered drink tags. Straws are not a necessity but add a fun touch.
Everything Takes Longer then you Think
Do yourself a favor and do as much as you can ahead of time. Save your sanity! Everything takes longer than you think to set up. Be sure to have a good list of EVERYTHING that has to be done for the party, then mark what could be done before the big day. You don’t want to be running around the day of and end up being exhausted before the party starts. I like to add post-its wherever possible to communicate to others what needs to be done last minute.
I like to clean my house two days before the party, and then just run the vacuum once more the day of (because of the never-ending dog hair). The week of the party I usually do my grocery shopping first, clean the house, cook my food, decorate and then do some touch-up cleaning afterwards. If you can swing it, you might also consider hiring someone to do the cleaning for you! I have a friend who adds a professional cleaning service to her party budget every time the holidays come around and she’s basically my hero.
Activity for the Kids?
When prepping for a party, it’s hard to focus when kids are running around. So, have a fun activity planned or a new toy, movie, or game stashed away to give them while you focus on party prep. It’s also a good idea to have something for the kids to do during the party as well.
Bathroom Supply Check
One of the last things I do before guests arrive is a bathroom check. Make sure the toilet is clean, toilet paper is stocked, the trashcan is empty and a fresh towel is out for guests to dry their hands. Sometimes I light a candle too.
Trash and Dishwasher
While you are taking the bathroom trash out, be sure to grab the kitchen trash too. It will make meal cleanup run quicker and smoother. I like having my dishwasher emptied too, that way no one feels as if they have to wash my dirty dishes.
Phone Volume Up?
Make sure to have your volume up for last-minute phone calls. You don’t want a guest getting lost and can’t get ahold of you. I am notorious for leaving my phone on vibrate which isn’t helpful when I have people coming to our home in the middle of nowhere!
Check on Everyone’s Drink
As guests arrive, be sure to grab everyone a drink. Ask “what would you like to drink?” rather than “do you want something to drink?” to encourage them to choose something. As the party goes on, keep an eye out for refills.
I like having background music playing when people are over. Keep your guests in mind when selecting your playlist and avoid showing off your “cool card” by playing indie bands that no one else has heard of. It’s not the time to show off. Play something everything can enjoy.
Relax once Guests get there
No matter if everything on your todo list got completed or not, chill out once your guests arrive. There is nothing that will ruin the vibe of a party more than a cranky or stressed-out host. Grab a drink, relax, and enjoy the party. You deserve to enjoy it too!
After each party, I save the unused supplies such as paper napkins, plastic utensils, and paper straws with the rest of our serving trays and party supplies. Having a storage tote dedicated to party supplies helps save us on cost and makes it easier to use for each gathering. Alex and I did a DIY donut and snack table at our wedding and I have reused most of the trays and dishes several times since then.
Share your Hosting for the Holidays Hacks
As always, thank you for following along with me in my creative journey. Be sure to tag me and use #meagannicholedotcom when sharing your hosting for the holidays hacks! Thanks for stopping by MeaganNichole.com
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