10 tips to hosting a good holiday party
1. Prep ingredients the day before
If cooking, it makes the day itself so much more relaxing if you would do your “mise en place” the day before. Chop up all your onions, garlic, vegetables, and place in separate tupperwares so that cooking the next day is a simple assembly. I caramelised my mushrooms and onions the day before because i know that takes a lot of time, boy did it make it easier!
2. Always have a welcome drink
Drinks are what gets a party going! Even if a non alcoholic drink(: It’s nice for guests to have something to hold in their hands and sip on so they start to feel relaxed and comfortable quickly. It also makes a fun start to set the tone for the party! This time I went with Mulled Wine, a blend of Merlot, Apple Cider, Star Anise, Cloves, Cinnamon and Orange. It set the mood for the afternoon with the warmth scent and flavours of Fall & Winter. Not to mention the smell that filled our kitchen as it simmered on the stove. Everyone loved the welcome drink and wanted seconds! In the Spring and Summer, Sangria would be a fantastic option!
3. Always set out appetizers no matter how big the main meal
Guests rarely arrive all at the same time. So it is nice to have appetisers set out on your coffee table or kitchen counter that early guests can snack on while waiting for the rest to arrive. Hungry guests are not happy guests! So keep the food coming! I set out a simple meat and cheese platter with a side of pita chips. I also served it with a side of home made onion jam & pomegranate seeds just to slightly elevate and personalise my appetiser. The onion jam was so easy to make and so delicious layered on top of cheese & crackers! Let me know if you would like the recipe. The 2 cheeses I picked were Brie, a classic, and smoked Gouda, something different, rich, creamy & so flavourful! I completely forgot to take pictures of my meat & cheese platter because we were SO hungry, as soon as I put it out, we dived right into it! Deviled eggs are also another wonderful easy option for an appetiser, and are always well received!
4. Buffet style (label food)
I was never a fan of buffet style parties because they just seemed.. awkward and not very pretty. But ever since being a mom, and now that i’m preggo, I don’t have the energy to serve individually and to go through all that hassle of washing 50000 different plates! So what I did this time was to set up a simple but pretty buffet table. Pretty serve ware is key and TARGET was my favourite place to get serve ware this holiday season! To make it more fun and easy for guests, I labelled the dishes with place cards. Knowing what you’re eating and coming up with pretty names just elevates a buffet table so that my side dishes are just “fixings” but stars in their own right!
5. Set table w name place cards
If you have enough seats for every guest at your dining table, I find it very important to set name place cards! The worst is having to figure out who should sit where when you’re ready to eat with a plate of food in hand. Having the right seating arrangement also allows for much smoother conversation! It’s also nice for couples to be able to sit together, so Mike and I split ourselves up and the 3 guys sat on 1 end, the 3 girls on the other end, with the 2 couples sitting next to each other (: Especially if you have a big group like 10, it’s even more important to have a seating arrangement or you would be standing around for 10 minutes trying to decide who sits where… Talk about awkward!
6. Split the work, get guests to bring dessert or a side dish
I am not the best baker around and lately have not had a passion for baking… So I handed the task over to one of our guests. That takes a huge load off your shoulders if you don’t have to both cook & bake! It also helps for guests to bring some side dishes that you can then transfer to a pretty serving plate and add to your buffet table (: One of my guest brought Lemon Garlic Green Beans & Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes! Mmmmm…
7. Cook turkey upside down!!!
This is a specific one to Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it is such an important tip of mine!! Our turkey turned out AMAZINGLY moist again and this trick always works!! Everyone raved about how moist the breast of the turkey was and it really remained the star of the show. Cook the turkey top side up to brown for the first 30 to 45 minutes and then turn it upside down for the rest of the cooking time so that all the juices will flow down into the breast! It makes a massive difference.. Of course not forgetting to baste with chicken stock often & I also basted it at the end with my classic maple mustard glaze. I’ve used this glaze before on a turkey 2 years ago, it was a hit then and still a hit this time! Everyone loved it, and the gravy I made with the pan drippings had a tad bit of sweetness from the maple. Delicious!!
8. 1/2 to 3/4 bottle of wine per person
The worst thing at a party is to run out of wine… And not especially if you are hosting a Sunday lunch in North Carolina where you can’t buy alcohol til noon on a Sunday..! If your guests are not big drinkers, you could get away with half a bottle of wine per person. But I like to play it safe with about 3/4 bottle of wine a person. Theres usually always that 1 person who drinks more than the rest, yesterday being my hubby! haha. He was having such a great time!
9. As your party winds down, serve guest some tea w their dessert
Have you been to parties where you leave being so super thirsty from all the food and alcohol? I hate that feeling, so I always offer my guests tea with their dessert and or a plate of dark chocolate. I made tea in my french press, it was a Christmas tea by TWG and felt like a great way to end the evening with a festive tea perfect for the season!
10. Start cleaning n picking up kitchen while you chit chat so when everyone is gone you can relax rather than clean for another 2hrs!
I started picking up the kitchen right after everyone got up from their seats, and were standing around chit chatting. It’s nice my sink is right in the center of our island so I could still engage in conversation while cleaning up. By the time everyone was gone I had cleaned up the entire kitchen and could go right to take a long hot shower and then pass out for the night!
So these are my top 10 tips to hosting a great holiday party! I didn’t get pictures of everything but I hope the ones I have give you some inspiration ideas for your next holiday party. For us, Christmas is next! Mike’s family comes into town to celebrate with us. I’m thinking of doing a Meatball cocktail station, a christmas ham, oxtail Mac & Cheese, Potato Gratin… I have so many ideas but i’ll have to take time to fine tune them.
I’m also already thinking about ideas for Emma’s 2nd Birthday party in the Spring time in March, and Elizabeth’s 1 month birthday party at the end of April/ May. So many parties to plan and I love it! x