This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
This post is sponsored by Hoffmann Brothers. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!
‘Tis the season for holiday hosting – I personally host family (~15ish people) to our home for Christmas Eve every year and it’s actually relatively stress-free. So I’m sharing a few of my favorite holiday hosting tips below… all super simple!
I know hosting ANY party can be stressful so I have a few pre-party ideas, tips & tricks to take some of the pain away so you can focus on sipping champagne vs being crabby the entire day/night. Everyone’s ultimate goal ;).
12 Holiday Hosting Tips & Tricks
Prep Your Space
Make sure you’re not saving allll the prep for the day-of… clean your house – or the areas people will be hanging out 😉 – a few days before. Change any lightbulbs, ditch any dead greenery, stock up the toilet paper rolls – you get the gist.
Ideally, line up a house cleaner to make everything shine the day before the party – takes a ton of pressure off and forces you to pre-clean for the cleaner ;).
Test Your Oven
This little tip from Hoffmann Brothers is GENIUS – try it before any hosting any major event that you’ll be baking or using the oven for.
Test to make sure your oven works properly by baking a can of biscuits (like Pillsbury Grands) exactly following the instructions.
If your biscuits come out evenly, you’re good to go. If they are undercooked or burnt, your oven probably needs to be serviced! Call Hoffmann Brothers – they’re my go-to for heating and cooling needs but also offer electrical and plumbing services and appliance repair.
Hoffmann Brothers // 1025 Hanley Industrial St Louis, MO 63144 // call or text 314-664-3011
I keep a Google Sheet of the number of guests + what I’m serving to serve as a historical reference every year. This way I’m not trying to calculate how many apps we had or if I made X, Y or Z the year prior.
I also love to send email or text invites because it’s just easier and people can add the event right to their phone’s calendar straight from the evite. My favorite site to use is Paperless Post because the designs are gorgeous.
Plan the Menu
Obviously, what you’re serving depends on the time of day, your budget, and your vibe.
For our Christmas Eve soiree, I always go with heavy appetizers as dinner so it’s nothing formal, definitely serve-yourself, and I don’t have to coordinate an entire full dinner (think Thanksgiving – too much for me).
Some of our favorites for a heavy apps party are:
- buffalo dip
- cheese plate (here’s a brunch version)
- cocktail weenies (gourmet, I know)
- crockpot meatballs
- shrimp cocktail
- veggies with dill dip
- cheesy rye bread bowl
- bacon-wrapped dates
- mini crab cake bites
Since we’re serving appetizer-ish foods as a meal, we aim for 15-20 pieces per person and always end up with plenty of food!
Set the Mood
Make a playlist or at least pick a station on Amazon Music that Alexa can play in the background.
Also, test the lighting at whatever time the party will be held to make sure you’ve got it right. Sometimes I want it BRIGHT but other times I dim the overhead lights and use our ambient light (twinkle lights, fireplace, canned lights dimmed low) as the main source of light.
Get it Delivered
We’re SO LUCKY that we live in a time of delivery… so if you forgot the chips or the ice or Aunt Linda’s favorite wine, get it delivered. I personally use and love Instacart but Shipt is another option :).
Pre-Make & Buy What You Can
Dips can be mixed, fruits and veggies can be cut, beer and wine can be chilled. Also – no shame in buying something pre-made and plating it so it looks homemade ;). Zero. Shame.
Keep the Cocktails Simple
Either have a DIY cocktail bar or pick a pre-made cocktail and go with that. To be honest, we generally stick to beer (a dark & a light) and wine (a red, a white, and a sparkly).
No New Things
Test a new recipe with caution… I’ve made this mistake more than once: trying something new for the first time right as guests are arriving. Totally do-able but it will add some stress – sticking to what your tried-and-true faves will make the food situation simpler and less stressful.
Do This Glass Hack
I swear by these glass markers for guests to write their names on their glass for the evening. Works on any glassware, so perfect for people of all ages. The pack of 6 colors is under $10 and they work great and wash right off.
No more messing with wine charms and trying to remember whose is whose… I personally also like stemless glassware #becausekids.
Make a Kraft Paper Tablecloth
You know I love Kraft paper for just about anything, but it also makes a fantastic tablecloth – easy cleanup, easy as a little something extra for the kids – throw out some crayons to color with and call it a day!
Using kraft paper as a covering is especially cute if you use it as a ‘frame’ or ‘map’ to show and tell guests what to do… label the cheeses on a cheese plate, tell guests to use a coaster, point them in the direction of the booze.
Holiday Scent Your Home
Make one of these stovetop simmering potpourris and your entire house will smell like Christmas.