A Holiday Hostess with the Mostest
Let's face it, Christmas is both the most wonderful time of year and also one of the most stressful too. So many obligations and so little time. Parties, cookie exchanges, shopping - it seems like the most wonderful time of year flies by without ever really being able to sit down and enjoy it. A lot of us get so caught up in the hustle and bustle and we forget the true meaning of the holiday - sharing the love and joy of the season with others. So for me, since I love to spend as much time as possible soaking in all of the cozy Christmas that we create for ourselves at home, we like to host people here to share it with us.
I am one of those "go big or go home people" so I like to take on the task of hosting Christmas Eve. I like to think that a couple decades from now my nephew will lovingly recall how he loved going to his Aunt Laurie and Uncle George's on Christmas Eve. That is me - my mind lives in a Norman Rockwell painting - especially this time of year.
I'd like to offer you some tips on opening your home up to loved ones for a big holiday bash. Christmas Eve is my absolute favorite day of the year and I take the responsibility of entertaining our closest folks for those most exciting few hours before the clock strikes midnight on Christmas morning very seriously. I'm not blowing smoke when I say, it is an honor and a privilege that people would even want to give us those hours, so I want to make it special for everyone. Here are some of the things I do to make it the best that I can, the least hectic as possible, to set an ambiance, to make everyone feel welcome and cozy and to share a little Christmas magic - and you don't need a lot of money to do it either! Some of these are eye rollers in that they may seem obvious, but maybe not to someone else.
1.) Plan your menu as early as possible so that you can catch the rotating sales that most grocery stores have throughout the month of December.
2.) Have all of the Christmas lights on well in advance of everyone's arrival.
3.) Light all of your candles about a half hour before your guests should be arriving so you don't forget to do it and you aren't running around like a chicken with its head cut off when someone rings the doorbell.
4.) Clear space in your coat closet since it is cold this time of year and mostly everyone will be wearing a jacket. Another alternative is to set guests' outerwear on your bed (everyone remembers going to parties where you did this when you were a kid, right?) - one thing about this is to be prepared for guests to see your bedroom when they retrieve their coat at the end of the party.
5.) If you exchange gifts, have space for everyone to set their gifts when they arrive.
6.) Have background music or Christmas movies on. I like to have a different background sound happening in each room of our house and since I love kitchy this time of year, I go for lots of old-timey stuff. This year we are going to have classic Christmas movies playing in the living room, Christmas music in the den and different Christmas movies playing in the kitchen. I found an amazing podcast a few years ago called "Christmas Old Time Radio." This is perfect background noise that plays all sorts of old Christmastime radio classics like Red Skelton, Jack Benny and lots of radio theater. We'll keep the volumes on low in all of the rooms so not to prevent everyone from being social but to set that Christmas mood that everyone wants to feel.
7.) Have a variety of food items so that everyone has something that they like - don't forget the vegetarians. At the end of this article, I'm going to give you the menu I am using for this year's Christmas Eve bash. I like people to have food that they not only feel comfortable going to grab but also that they really would like to eat. Which brings me to my next point.
8.) Nothing says Christmas party to me more than food scattered about on little plates all over the house. We don't have a ton of square footage in our house and we are expecting at least a dozen people on my most favorite night so we need to optimize the space that we do have and I do that by placing food in all of the places to get people to move around. This year I will have hot food in the kitchen, appetizers in the dining room, small plates of snacks in the living room and lots of sweets in the den.
9.) Seating. Have enough of it and make it cozy for people by fluffing all of those throw pillows that you know I love and draping lots of blankets on the arms of chairs so that people can really get comfy. After all, this isn't a stuffy dinner party I am hosting the night before Santa comes. You can be creative with seating, like clearing off benches that you may normally use as coffee tables and things like that.
10.) Be a gracious host and let people bring something if they offer. I used to have a major control freak problem with this and I've decided that it is unkind to refuse people's contributions if they really want to bring something - after all, cooking for the holidays brings many people joy.
11.) Have a cocktail or do whatever you do to calm yourself of the pre-hosting jitters about an HOUR before everyone should arrive. It takes a lot of practice to have things down to the point that you aren't running around like a crazy person before everyone arrives but planning ahead helps and honestly, for all of the work that you've put into this party that you are going to host - you should be able to enjoy it AND, your guests will enjoy it more too if you are calm, cool and collected.
I am going to stop there because I could truly write a book with these sorts of tips and you all need to get to your planning (and so do I). I hope that whatever festivities you may host this holiday season that they go off without too much of a hitch and that everyone has a wonderful time, including you! One final thing, I am providing my Christmas Eve menu below to give you some ideas for your own party. Thank you so much for stopping by. Remember that you can see daily shots on Instagram and that you can follow me in the Apple News format. Until the next time!
Christmas Eve Menu
Appetizers (Set out on the Dining Room Table): A variety of cheeses and crackers, Relish tray, Vegetable Tray with Dip, Bread Bowl and Jalapeño Popoper Dip
Hot Foods (Buffet-style set out in the Kitchen): Spiral-sliced ham, Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions and my extra cheesy Baked Ziti; Served with Rolls and Condiments for Sandwiches
Sweets (Set out on little plates and tiered trays in the Den): Mandarin oranges, Rice Krispie Treats, Variety of Cookies and Brownies