With one week left until Christmas, no doubt your holiday party calendar is filling up. Perhaps you’re preparing to host a gathering of your own? Below are five ideas to help the happy hostess who aims to pull-off her party with less stress and more merriment.
1. Let them help themselves. Set up a “wine bar” before the party starts, and encourage guests to pour their own glass. Using a console or side table, line up bottles by variety and uncork them all so they’re ready to go. For an extra touch, label the wine types on decorative place cards, as in the picture below.
2. Keep the table simple. Especially if you’re serving a big group, and have lots of different foods, it’s okay to go minimal with your centerpiece. A cornucopia with fresh fruit spilling out and your good candlesticks (c’mon, you never use them!) lend a sophisticated look without a lot of effort. Serving parts of the meal (like bread and chutney) in beautiful crystal vessels also dresses up the table. A simple white table cloth is the perfect blank canvas with which to start.
3. Keep it moving. Serving food buffet style means your guests can decide how much of each dish they’d like, and it gets everyone to the table faster. You don’t want the hassle of having to plate each dish yourself. If you’ve got an especially large group (we had 40 for Thanksgiving, below), setting up your buffet with the same food on both sides of the table means the line will go twice as fast.
4. Choose a dessert you can assemble, without having to bake or cook anything. My go-to is a simple cheese tray. A few well-selected cheeses (labeled with toothpicks and paper signs), plus some fruit and nuts for nibbling, can be set atop some paper doilies inside a lucite tray. The presentation is attractive, and it takes just a few minutes to put together.
5. Remember – it’s all about having fun. If you don’t plan on actually enjoying yourself, well then, there’s just no point to entertaining. As the hostess, it’s your job to set the mood for your party. So go ahead – put on some music, a party dress, and a smile – and get ready to have a good time. Your guests will thank you for it.