Hosting for the Holidays
Whether you’ve been hosting holidays for years or maybe this is your first time, here are a few survival tips to help you handle all of your family in one place at one time. No offense to your family of course.
1. Make More Space & Clear Out Clutter: If you’ve read any of my articles before, you know how I feel about clutterand when planning to entertain guests over the holidays, the first step is always to Ditch the Clutter! You don’t have to throw it away or donate it, (although that would be nice to do at the holidays) but one trick that works for me is for each holiday piece that I put out, one piece of daily home décor goes into the holiday box where it stays until after the holidays are complete and I’m packing up the decorations again.
After the clutter is gone, its time to think how everyone will fit comfortably into your home? More importantly, you want to think about where you want your guests to be… or NOT BE. Which rooms do you want them to have or not have access to? Defining and preparing each room is key to a comfortable experience for your guests. This starts with tree placement and ends with furniture arrangement. If you’re tight on space, maybe you don’t need 2 end tables around your couches, maybe the big wing-back arm chair can be replaced by 2 smaller chairs. Placing a few ottomans around can provide extra seating without impeding the openness of a room. Your end goal is to make the room conducive to conversation so no one gets stuck with Great Aunt Sally in a corner pontificating on the latest issue of Cat Fancy magazine (although I’m sure it’s a wonderful publication).
On the flip side, containing your guests to certain rooms can help minimize the work you have to do before and after. Obviously, keeping people out of bedrooms is a good idea but keeping a guest bedroom open can offer your guests an area to get away for a couple minutes of privacy, like taking a phone call, breastfeeding or whatever else they may need.
The kitchen is another area that you may one to limit access to. Typically the kitchen should be reserved for only those who are helping to prepare the food. Guests tend to congregate in kitchens but if you can keep a beverage bar or an appetizer table in another room, you can limit the amount people getting in the way of the work being done in the kitchen. Also, you could use a polite or humorous note posted on kitchen door is a subtle way to tell your guests to keep out.
2. Clean out your Fridge & Plan Food in Advance. Obviously it’s good to know how much food you will need to serve ahead of time (or order, if you’re anything like me), but you should also do a dish/serving platter count. I’m not always the most formal of hosts, but I’ve been caught empty “plattered” before and it’s not pretty. No one wants to be the guest who is given a paper plate when everyone else gets the fine china. Know the final number of attendees and plan for late arrivals. One of the most annoying tasks when hosting a party is trying desperately to prepare as much food as you can ahead of time and then realizing that it won’t fit into the fridge. If you clear out the fridge and still don’t think it will all fit, take out all of the drinks and put them in a cooler outside or in a designated beverage serving area.
3. Know Your Audience: If you plan to sit everyone at the same time or if you plan a more casual buffett style party, it’s impereitve that each guest has a place to sit. It doesn’t necessarily need to be at a table, but if every person that came over wanted to sit down at the same time, they should be able to. If you find that you would have to institute a game of musical chairs to do this then you need to add seating. Bed Bath & Beyond has some great inexpensive metal folding chairs and some nicer wood options too, also reasonably priced.
If your plan is to seat everyone at one table, you have an opportunity, and some would say an obligation, to assign seats in a way that will stimulate conversation. You can find plenty of tips on seating arrangements around the internet but a couple basic guidelines i like to use are:
Split up the couples.
Don’t seat people next to each other who have a history of arguing.
If there is someone new to your family or group, seat them next to someone they know and also with someone they don’t who you think they would get along with.
Hopefully you found this useful. If you care to share any tips you’ve found helpful for your parties, please share them in the comment section below. Good luck planning your parties!
image sources: flickr: Carodean Road Designs