Planning a Stress-Free Holiday Dinner Party
Whether you’re hosting a large group of people at your house or cooking up a feast for your family, it can be stressful to plan for a holiday dinner party – especially if you’re also acting as head chef throughout the event. After all, these meals usually involve multiple courses, your best silverware and china, and a whole lot of decorations: It’s enough to make any host’s head spin!
With the right planning, however, you’ll be well on your way to a more stress-free and satisfying holiday season. In some cases, your planning process may even include delegating out the cleaning chores and kitchen tasks, so that you can focus on creating the perfect merry moments for your guests.
Below, we’ve put together a few holiday party ideas to streamline your planning and make Christmas dinner look easy.
Step 1: Define (and streamline!) your menu.
Because holiday dinners are based around – you guessed it – delicious food, it’s important to start here before you plan anything else, and see if you can cut back in any area. If you’re cooking all the food yourself, you should first consider enlisting a few holiday helpers in the kitchen come party day.
Depending on whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or another holiday, your cuisine may draw directly from those traditions, or your menu could be inspired by the changing seasons. While it can be fun to go all out for these events, however, make sure that your menu doesn’t put too much stress on your own plate.
After you put together a holiday dinner menu, ask yourself these questions:
- How many guests will I have, and what are their dietary needs and restrictions?
- What recipes do I plan to use?
- How long will it take to make this meal, from beginning to end?
- Can I make any dishes ahead of time?
- Am I comfortable using these recipes?
- Do I want it to be a potluck dinner and have guests bring unique side dishes?
- Will there be young children there, and if so, what will they eat?
Once you have the answers to these questions, go back to the drawing board and eliminate anything that will add unnecessary time to your meal preparations. Pretty soon, you’ll find that your menu accurately reflects the needs of your group and plays to your individual strengths as a cook, making it much easier to get ready. It’s also a good idea to create your ingredient shopping list early on, so you won’t be scrambling to remember anything later.
Step 2: Put down that cocktail shaker.
For many people, sharing a seasonal cocktail is just as important as the holiday dinner itself. But you don’t have to play bartender and mix up customized drinks to give your guests an amazing time. It’s much easier to make a few batch cocktails in advance, which you can include on a decorated bar cart with ice, napkins, garnishes, and other essentials. Don’t drink? Try mixing up some alcohol-free punches with sparkling cider and doing the same thing!
Some of the best holiday cocktail recipes to make in a batch include:
- Boozy pear or apple cider drinks, like Women & Whiskies’ Pear Punch
- A holiday rum punch, like this zesty recipe from The Cocktail Project
- Classic hot drinks, like Martha Stewart's mulled wine
- Non-alcoholic cider punch, like this recipe from The Plant Philosophy
- A festive winter sangria, like this one from Joyful Healthy Eats
Whatever you make, be sure you and your guests drink responsibly.
Step 3: Schedule your pre-dinner party cleaning.
Whether you’re picking up the broom yourself or delegating the cleaning to someone else, it’s critical to include pre-party cleaning time in your schedule. Unless guests will be wandering throughout the house, focus on high-traffic areas like the kitchen, living room, and dining room. In general, the cleaning should be completed no more than two days before the guests arrive. You will also need to unpack and clean any dishware related to your dinner plans.
For a step-by-step guide on cleaning your home for the holidays, check out Part One of our blog series on “How to Win the Holidays”!
Step 4: Focus on the ambiance.
You don’t need to buy out an entire craft store to make your home feel cozy and welcoming. After all, a dinner party is primarily about one thing: The dinner! As long as your house is clean and your tables are ready to go, you’ll be well on your way to holiday bliss.
That being said, we’ve got a few easy tricks you can use to boost the ambiance in your space:
- Set the mood with the right holiday playlist. Just use Alexa, Pandora, Spotify, Siri or Google to put on some season-appropriate jazz favorites and your home will instantly feel party-ready.
- Make space for shoes and coats. Don’t have a coat or shoe rack? No problem: Pick out a designated closet and be sure there are enough hangers for coats. Then lay down a mat or a rug for guests to place their shoes.
- Open the windows before your guests show up. It may be cold outside, but it’s a good idea to give your dining area a blast of fresh air right before guests arrive. You’ll eliminate any lingering odors, and the room will warm up again in no time.
- Light up a few scented candles. With scents like pumpkin pie and apple spice, candles are a great way to communicate warmth and comfort to your guests. They may even think you’ve been baking for hours!
Need a Helping Hand This Year?
At Merry Maids®, we provide top-notch cleaning services so that you can rest a little easier before your dinner party. By delivering a detailed clean you can truly feel, our cleaning experts will let your home’s natural beauty shine through. From entryways to bathrooms to staircases, your guests will be sure to be impressed!
We’re wishing you a very happy and stress-free holiday season! For more information about our cleaning services, give us a call at (888) 490-4227.