The holidays are all about spending quality time with close friends and family. They are the most festive time of year, meaning that you’ll need to be prepared when it comes to party planning. To help you plan the perfect holiday event, we’ve rounded up the best holiday entertaining tips from celebrity stylists, designers, chefs and other seasoned party planners.
We’ve organized each tip into a timeline, from the week before the event to the evening of the party. Follow the tips below and you’ll be on your way to planning the most memorable holiday party yet!
THE WEEK BEFORE
Start thinking about your table decor at least a week before the party. Celebrity designer Nate Berkus likes to dress his table up with unique and eclectic pieces. To him, great decor doesn’t mean that everything has to match. He likes to mix things up, even when it comes to plates!
Get creative when it comes to your holiday table decor by including elements that reflect your own style. By coordinating unique elements together, you’ll be able to create a memorable experience for your holiday guests.
There’s no party without the perfect playlist. A great playlist will set the festive tone and allow your guests to feel at ease. It’s an important element that can either make or break your event. In the days leading up to the party, you’re going to be busy with more urgent items like food and decor. Do yourself a favor by following Gwyneth Paltrow’s advice and getting the playlist out of the way before the holiday planning starts to get overwhelming — you’ll be glad you did!
2-3 DAYS BEFORE
Take some time to think about seating arrangements. Although assigned seating is not a requirement, it does help to encourage conversation amongst your guests. Lauren Conrad particularly loves it when the people she seats next to each other are able to spark up a conversation and connect. This hosting tip will help you relax and be less concerned about making sure everyone at the table is included in one conversation.
For celebrity chef Sandra Lee, holiday decor is all about the florals. Get creative by following her holiday entertaining idea of incorporating florals in unexpected places. This will add a unique flair to your decor and is an opportunity to infuse natural floral fragrances throughout your home.
THE DAY BEFORE
Gather flowers for your tabletop decor the day before. Choose a few different types of florals and group them by type into smaller vases. This allows you to decorate the entire length of the table. By purchasing flowers the day before, it gives any unopened blooms time to open up.
Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi knows a thing or two about holiday entertaining. To her, the most important part of hosting a holiday party is to prepare food ahead of time to make things easier on yourself the day of the party. In addition to her suggestions above, there are plenty of other holiday dishes that can be prepared the night before and popped in the oven when guests arrive including mashed potatoes, baked pasta dishes and dinner rolls.
Food blogger turned celebrity chef Ree Drummond (aka Pioneer Woman) shares a great tip for preparing for a holiday meal. By laying out all of your serving ware ahead of time, you’ll be able to determine if it will match up with the items on your menu. The last thing you want is for the food to be ready, but nothing to serve it in! After you’ve laid out all of your serving ware and utensils, use sticky notes to label them with the dish they’re assigned to.
THE DAY OF
One of the most exciting aspects of a holiday party is the cocktails! Playing mixologist is time-consuming and messy, so let go of the pressure to shake up an individual cocktail for each guest. Reduce your stress by creating a signature cocktail that you can mix up the day of. By serving cocktails in pitchers, your guests can serve themselves and keep the party rolling.
According to Colin Cowie, the secret to being an effortless host is to be prepared ahead of time. Set up for the party as much as you can the night before. Make sure the table is set, the food is prepped and your decor is ready. This will allow you to take an hour or two before your guests arrive to get yourself ready for the party. After all, if the host appears confident and at ease, your guests will be too.
THE EVENING OF
For Nigella Lawson, the perfect party begins with the host’s mentality. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel the pressure to put on an extravagant party, especially for the holidays. However, you must keep in mind that the holidays are all about spending quality time with your closest friends and family, not impressing the world with your perfect party planning skills. The evening of the party, remember the number one rule of hosting: relax and enjoy yourself.
After dinner and drinks, it’s a good idea to take part in a fun activity that will bring the group together. For lifestyle blogger, Camille Styles, it’s all about classic board games. They’re a fun and nostalgic way to entertain the entire group, regardless of age. For Christmas, she loves hunting for vintage board games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit on eBay.
Now that you’re armed with the best holiday entertaining tips around, it’s time to plan a holiday party of your own! To help you get started, we created a handy cheat sheet that includes all of the tips from above organized into a helpful timeline. Simply click the button below to download the handy guide!
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