3 Make-Ahead Ideas for Happy Holiday Entertaining

Your holiday season will be brighter if you are relaxed when guests come calling.

Posted in , Dec 7, 2018

Christmas dinner

There’s no way around the fact that hosting a holiday gathering—whether it’s an “official” holiday dinner, casual open-house or bustling buffet—requires a lot of thought, planning and energy. 

It’s a pleasure that hosts look forward to all year long, but I would wager that even the most seasoned among them come to a moment when they feel overwhelmed by managing the details. Who would say no to some new ways to save your energy so you can feel energized and excited when the doorbell rings?

1)  Set the Table First

My Great Aunt Minnie, who loved to entertain, taught me that the very first task of planning any party was to set the table or put out the serving plates and utensils you’ll need for a buffet. A couple of days before the event, lay out the right number of plates, glasses, napkins and utensils, cover the table with a favorite cloth and match platters with serving utensils. These easy preparations will save you from scrambling around on the day of the party—and will give you a sense of accomplishment early in the planning process.

2)  Put Out Easy Appetizer Bites

Your guests will be wowed by an array of little tasty bites to snack on when they arrive at a holiday gathering. The good news is that most of these are easy to prepare ahead of time, if they need preparation at all. A bowl of mixed nuts, a plate of dried fruits like apricots and prunes, and platters of cheeses, olives or various crackers bring a party to life—and all you have to do ahead of time is hit the grocery store.

3)  Don’t Experiment on Party Day   

Looking through holiday magazines and cookbooks is a joy as the season draws near. But the day of the party isn’t the time to try out a new recipe. You’ll have a better time treading new waters when you don’t have the pressure of pending guests weighing on your mind. Make a new dish for your family in the weeks before the holidays, then prepare for your party with the confidence that your dish will be a winner. Bonus—many cooking magazines and websites feature make-ahead dishes that can live in your fridge or freezer for a day or two before the party.

How do you prepare for holiday entertaining?

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