Amid the craziness of Christmas parties here, there, and everywhere, we sometimes focus too much on the “there” and “everywhere” that we forget about the “here” — as in, the parties at your own home, or the people you’re hosting. It’s also all too easy to focus on the fact that you’re so busy, and not focus on your guests this time of year.
Hosting is so often a part of Christmas — whether you’re hosting a party at home, Christmas lunch, or even having family and friends stay for a few days over the holiday period. While we’re all probably guilty of rushing around and worrying about small things like the linen tablecloth or how much ice we need per person, the real focus of course should simply be the comfort of your guests. And while that sounds overwhelming, it actually reduces the potential for future drama, as you only have to focus on what your guests want.
1. Stay organized and plan ahead as much as possible.
“First off, a great host isn’t too frantic,” Alexis Teasdale, founder of The Festive Co., explained. “Rushing around and trying to fix every little thing only makes your guests anxious and uncomfortable.” She should know: Teasdale plans parties for a living, including everything from children’s birthdays, to engagement celebrations, and even weddings. “The trick here is to set yourself up well, no matter who you’re hosting or what the occasion is. Plan ahead as much as you can.” If you’re hosting Christmas lunch, for example, it pays to set up the table the night before.
2. Set your guests up to make their own drinks.
If you’ve got a cocktail party happening, don’t spend all night in the kitchen mixing individual drinks for your friends. “Make some batch cocktails and get everyone to pour their own,” says Teasdale. “You’ll find that actually, people love to do this; it adds to the party atmosphere.” Set up a makeshift bar with make-ahead cocktails all the toppings: wedges of lemon and lime, salt (for margaritas), olives (for martinis), and fun things like swizzle sticks and paper straws. “Embrace that and let the night get a little loose,” Teasdale said.
3. Consider outsourcing in your budget.
Outsource as much as you can to free up your time at the party. If you can afford catering, go for it; it makes a party seamless and enjoyable for everyone — including you! Get creative with your food if you’d rather not shell out on catering. “Big platters of fruit, meats, cheese, and bread are my choice,” Teasdale said. “You can outsource them, or you can prep them ahead of time and pull them out when guests arrive. These work for smaller parties and even big Christmas lunches — you can simply adjust the food you serve to suit.”
4. Prep your guest bedroom.
Of course, being a great host isn’t just about managing your own concerns. “If you have people staying, think about their needs and anticipate what they want before they have to ask,” Teasdale explained. “It just makes life easier for everyone.” Leave towels, spare blankets, and anything else you think they’ll need in their room. “After all, Christmas is a busy time, and they may want to retreat to their rooms without having to bother you with where the linen cabinet is!”
This article was originally written by Natasha Ledgerwood. For more, check out our sister site, Homes to Love.