This year the holiday season has surely been memorable—memorably hectic and stressful with hardly any time to prepare for Christmas Day. If you’re on the verge of crisis mode, it’s not a red alert just yet. Take a deep breath. Fortunately, there’s still time before emergency protocols kick in and you have to cancel Christmas like a Grinch. Don’t give up on Christmas Day just yet with these holiday hosting hacks to help with last-minute preparation.
First and foremost, drop your high expectations. You’re not Martha Stewart and your guests don’t expect you to be. Like Jordan Reid, author of Ramshackle Glam and mom to two little ones, says, “Take it down a notch or 20. Maintain those traditions that really matter, and then let the rest of it go.” If you didn’t bake the pomegranate mousse cake or red velvet cake with peppermint whipped cream posted on your Pinterest Christmas dessert board, it’s OK. Christmas Day can still be happy and magical, even with hosting shortcuts.
Serve Appetite Buffers
If you predict a delayed Christmas dinner, make sure to provide appetizers that ravenous guests can nibble on. Disguise frozen bites as homemade hors d’oeuvres by dressing up the food on decorative plates. Boneless buffalo wings and pizza rolls can seem like tacky foods for Christmas, which is why FTD offers a delicious Hickory Farms Here’s to the Holidays sausage and cheese platter or Gourmet Fruit & Cheese Gift Box to curb that holiday hunger.
Create a Crafting Corner
Describing the kids as energetic and excited on Christmas Day is an understatement. And, any parent knows that excitement can quickly turn into a meltdown of crankiness and tears. Help settle kids with a crafting corner where they can create decorative name cards for the table setting. Provide materials including old Christmas cards, markers, glue and scissors. As the kids craft Christmas Day decor, you can focus on cooking and entertaining without extra hassles.
Serve a Non-Fancy Menu
Prevent kitchen disasters by simplifying your holiday cooking with tried-and-true dishes. You’ll appear confident in your own kitchen and minimize unwelcome surprises. Michael Symon, the world-class chef at Lola Bistro, recommends roasting an entire prime rib or braising a veal shank. Slow-cooking meat enables you to work on the side dishes and tend to guests as the kitchen fills with rich and comforting aromas.
Designate a Socializer
As you get wrapped up with cooking the green bean casserole or washing pans, you could commit the ultimate party hosting crime—neglecting your guests. If multitasking isn’t your specialty, volunteer your husband or a family member to be the social butterfly. The greeter plays an important role in keeping the room alive. Give the socializer the task of serving specialty holiday cocktails or signature red wine, entertaining guests and working the room.
Keep Emergency Backup Gifts
Include small backup gifts as part of your holiday hosting survival kit in case unexpected guests arrive or you’re invited to a party last minute. Shop FTD.com for a collection of holiday gifts that you can keep on hand for when family wants to stop by on Christmas evening or if a co-worker invites you to a post-holiday get-together. Chocolate Dip Delights Christmas Cake Pops, Festively Frosted Snowman Chocolate Dipped Double Stuff Oreo Pops and Holiday Parade Hand-Dipped Pretzels make sweet holiday hostess gifts.
Simplify Your Wrapping
The theme of this year’s Christmas seems to be “last minute.” And unwrapped Christmas presents just means that you’re truly in the spirit of the season. Follow Reid’s advice and forgo elaborate gift-wrapping. Go for “minimalist chic,” and wrap gifts with brown paper and twine. Use a black sharpie marker to write the recipient’s name and a holiday love note. Not only is this a time-saver, but you’ll save money too.