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The words stress-free should be music to your ears, especially when talking about the holidays. There’s obviously going to be some pressure experienced by anyone who’s hosting and planning a holiday feast. The key is to not let these feelings control you in the preparation phase.
Planning and organizing every last detail is hectic at first, but it ensures your party will go off without a hitch. See tips for preparing a stress-free holiday feast so you can remain cool, calm and collected during the planning stages and on the day of your party.
Set Your Guest List
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Your first order of business is determining your guest list. Document who you’re inviting, how many people are in each family and decide if you’ll be inviting children or not. If you’re not, be sure you clarify that it’s an adults-only dinner on the invitation.
The reason you want to set your guest list before you start planning is because you need to know how many you’ll be feeding. The number of people you’ll be entertaining is your guide to setting a realistic budget for your holiday feast.
Plan Your Décor
The reason for your gathering is to feast, so it only makes sense to plan for what table settings and décor you’ll present. Hosting the ultimate feast is about more than just the food. It’s about the presentation, installing the right lighting and using the environment to set the mood. Below are the most important décor elements you should prepare and plan for at your feast.
Holiday Centerpieces & Tablecloths
While tablecloths are optional, every table needs a centerpiece. They don’t need to be overly elaborate, but they should be tasteful and well put together. Narrow down your options by theme, colors, time of year and texture possibilities. Centerpieces are special because they’re a personal touch of the host.
Hosting a feast with large amounts of food means you’re going to need the proper dishware to serve it and dishwasher to clean it. Take inventory of what you have and determine the pieces you’ll need to purchase online or at the store. While you don't want to blow all of your budget on dishes, it’s essential that the dishes you use are in good shape and that they all match.
Seating Place Cards
You don’t necessarily have to assign seats, but it’s proper to include a favor or small decoration at each seat. Assigning seats is helpful because it removes the confusing and uncomfortable side conversations about where to sit. A pumpkin place card is just one example, but there are an infinite amount of ideas and options out there.
Holiday Door Decorations
If you’re hosting a holiday feast, be mindful that some guests may not know where your house is located, or find it difficult to see if traveling in the dark. Install exterior lights and door decorations to put your guests at ease and in good spirits as soon as they pull up to your house.
Holiday Party Outfits
Instead of stressing about what to wear, treat yourself to a new holiday party outfit as a reward for all your hard work. The last thing you need to worry about on the day of your party is what to wear. Have it planned out ahead of time, so that if you’re running late day of, at least you’ll look and feel good once you’re dressed.
Layout Your Holiday Dinner Menu
Holiday meals are never easy. They typically involve multiple courses and lots of feasting. Every piece of food matters, from the holiday appetizer ideas to the holiday dinner presentation. The number one reason people look forward to attending parties is the food. Make sure you sort out your holiday dinner menu ahead of time and write down the items you need to buy. Lists are the foundation of all party planning successes.
Determine Drinks & Cocktails
The only other party component that may compete with the food are the drinks and cocktails. Research one or two holiday drink recipes to serve, but also include standard drinks the majority of people look for at a party such as, beer, wine and soda.
Prepare Holiday Pies & Candy
No holiday feast is complete without serving mouth-watering holiday pies. Holiday cakes, easy holiday cookies and candy are also an option. Put your bakeware to use and have a few dessert choices, but don’t feel like you need to go overboard. Most people are fine with anything, as long as it’s something sweet.
Practice Holiday Stress Relievers
In the midst of your planning, don’t forget to take care of yourself. The last thing you need is to get sick before, during or after your big event. Take breaks, rest, ask for help and, most importantly, hit the spa, enjoy the fall weather or get lost in a good book. Give yourself periodic breaks from preparing for your holiday feast so it remains a stress-free process.
Leave Plenty Of Time To Clean
Most of us don’t love to clean, but know it’s necessary to keep a healthy and safe home. Tidying up is especially important when you’re throwing a party. Clutter and messes will stress you out. You’ll be doing yourself a favor so you can find what you need right away and prepare your food on a clean surface.
Put your energy into cleaning your kitchen, bathrooms and dining (or sitting) room. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or short on time, then hire a professional cleaning service to get the job done for you.
Relax & Enjoy
That’s it, you’ve done it! You’ve been planning and preparing for your stress-free holiday feast and the day has finally arrived. If you’ve completed the steps above and are still standing, then it’s time to give yourself a break. The reason you work hard ahead of time is so you can enjoy your party and visit with your guests. Mingle, eat and leave the cleaning for your family, or the next day.
Planning a party isn’t easy. Upgrade it to a holiday feast, and you have a big project on your hands. Use these tips to get through your holiday planning and preparation stress-free.
Have you hosted a holiday feast in the past? Please share your tips and advice in the comments section below!