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Holiday Hosting Tips for a Stress-Free Soirée

This post originally appeared on Brianne Johanson

If you own a home or are renting a really cute apartment, chances are, you’re going to want to host a gathering for family and friends at some point. My husband and I have hosted quite a few since moving into our home and having a son, and we even have a couple parties coming up in the next few weeks. Here are my tips for hosting a fun and as stress-free as possible social gathering this holiday season (purely based on my own trial and error!):

Prep Work

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way: try to do all of your cooking and room set-up the day before.  The less cooking and organizing you have to do the morning of, the better. I always set up a separate table to serve as a dessert station, which allows you to have a little designated area to show off the desserts that guests will get to enjoy later.

In terms of cleaning the house, I do a deep clean (usually thanks to a pro cleaning team) the day or two before the event, instead of afterwards, just so the entire house looks spotless. In the bathroom that guests will be using, I lay out large disposable paper napkins for guests to dry their hands and toss, instead of having everyone having to share hand towels. I learned this one from my mother-in-law, who has adorable monogrammed napkins on display every time she hosts.

I also like to light some candles before guests arrive and turn on the lights in every single room, which helps to make people feel welcome and creates a little energy throughout the house.

Food Without Fanfare

We like to purchase one or two entrée dishes from a catering company or a local grocery store to save major time and will pair those with some easy sides that I can make myself, like a funky salad, a charcuterie board, fruit spread and a pasta dish. One of our guests’ favorites is a ham from our local Honeybaked Ham, which can be served cold with rolls and honey mustard and has a delicious sugar crust that everyone loves.  When hosting a Christmas or New Year’s Day brunch, we like to serve quiches and the refrigerated croissants from Whole Foods (they are huge and so delicious) that just need to be popped in the oven for a short amount of time, as well as Chrissy Teigen’s French toast casserole, which can be prepared in advance and baked the morning-of. For dessert, we serve pre-made pies or a cake with a few assorted half-gallon flavors from our favorite local ice cream stand.

Attire

I will normally try to dress up a bit with a sweater dress or an off-shoulder-top and slacks paired with a few dressier accessory pieces like long earrings (I’m wearing E.B. Horn’s 14kt yellow gold diamond drop feather earrings in the above left photo) or one to three delicate necklaces (I layered E.B. Horn’s 18kt half moon diamond necklace, which I featured in my Holiday Gift Guide for Her, and the 14kt yellow gold double strand diamond feather necklace in the above right photo).  I also usually wear flats since it’s impossible to host a party and run around in heels.

Entertainment

I like to play upbeat music on our Sonos speakers (side note: I used to play moody John Mayer or Dave Matthews and realized that some old school Frank Sinatra or classic Christmas song playlists are better for all ages.).  One fun thing we do at every party is themed trivia.  It usually takes place during dessert;  we pass out pens and clipboards with paper and my husband will read off questions and guests write their answers down. The trivia questions are always tied to the occasion, so if it’s a Christmas gathering, we’ll ask questions about the holiday and throw in some historical facts. We run through the answers at the end and award prizes to the winner and first runner-up, such as a plant or a bag of Lindt’s chocolates.

I hope some of these little tips will help you with your next hosting gig! Wishing you many enjoyable moments with family and friends this holiday season.

All of the jewelry seen in my photos can be found at E.B. Horn, Boston’s oldest jewelry store. Special thanks to E.B. Horn for collaborating with me on this post. View their holiday guide here.

 


 

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