How to be a Gracious Holiday Hostess

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Someone recently asked me for tips on “how to be the Hostess with the Mostess” over the holidays. While there are so many different ways to answer this question, and so many creative details to explore for holiday entertaining in general – the one thing that stands out as special to me is the idea of being a truly thoughtful & gracious hostess, and really paying attention to how you make your guests feel.

Even the most impressive decorations and the best tasting food will pale in comparison to the fabulous “warm & fuzzy” feeling one gets when feeling truly welcome and important in another’s home, which is really the best gift you can give to your guests.


Here are a few ideas to help accomplish this:

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1. Consider the special dietary needs of your guests.
Maybe you have some vegetarians on the guest list, a best friend with peanut allergies, or a pregnant sister-in-law. Make sure to have options prepared for them ahead of time so that they feel like an important guest and not an afterthought or a burden. You can even talk to them about it ahead of time, as they might have suggestions for the menu that will keep things easy on you too.

Trust me, the extra effort will be appreciated… your SIL won’t feel the absence of bubbly on New Year’s Eve nearly as much when you’re passing out the champagne flutes and hand her one already filled to the brim with sparkling cider! {Check out this article for more details on catering to special diets.}

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2. Set an example with your mood.

Greet everyone with a big smile – even if you’re a little more stressed out than you’re actually letting on (they really don’t NEED to know that you just dropped an entire tray of desserts in the kitchen right before the doorbell rang and sent your husband to the grocery store for a solution, do they?!). The bottom line is that your guests will take their cue from YOUR mood. If you seem happy and relaxed, they will be too. If you look stressed out and totally frazzled, they might start to feel awkward or like their presence is an inconvenience, which is never a good thing!

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3. Take immediate steps to make people feel comfortable.
Make a point of greeting every guest personally (and very soon after they arrive) and introducing people to each other – which is especially important for guests that might not know anyone else.

I also like to have a tray of signature drinks prepared that you can offer to guests right when they arrive. It’s a simple thing, but people always seem to feel more comfortable when they have something to hold on to – whether it’s a specialty cocktail, a glass of wine, or a cup of hot chocolate.

Last but not least, designate areas for coats and purses so that your guests are comfortable and can keep their hands free for the important stuff – like food, drinks, and dancing!

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Do you have any special tips for making guests feel more comfortable at your parties? Please share them with us here!

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