It’s that time of the year again! Friends and family gather from near and far to celebrate seasonal festivities with love and laughter. If you’re hosting, you have a lot on your plate.
However, it isn’t challenging to pull off an event that will please everyone. Starting preparations early eases last-minute tensions — like whose job it was to pick up cranberry sauce. Here are five menu and planning tips for a stress-free holiday get-together.
While it’s unfortunate to bear bad news, the pandemic isn’t over, as much as you might be tired of hearing about it. The reality of breakthrough infections means taking precautions at holiday gatherings to protect your family members. While most vaccinated individuals only experience mild sickness, some people with health risks have died despite getting the jab.
Therefore, you should still encourage mask-wearing and physical distancing, especially if you don’t know the vaccination status of attendees. If you know that some of your guests are unvaccinated and others have severe health risks, you may wish to disclose that information without naming individual parties or sharing medical details. That way, all invitees can make the best decisions for themselves about whether to attend. As much as you might like to see your aunt, it’s not worth putting her at undue risk.
The food takes center stage at any holiday event. Be the host with the most by extending an exclusive menu catered to every taste and dietary restriction. Seek recipes that do double-duty, such as these spinach and artichoke cups that please those on keto and vegans alike.
Soup is another seasonal favorite. It helps your guests warm their bellies after coming in from the cold. Ladle up some of this celery root soup that explodes with harvest flavor.
If you have guests with severe food allergies or celiac disease, carefully consider your serving style. If you plan on having a buffet, let those with restrictions serve themselves first to reduce the potential for cross-contamination. Purchasing a few prepared dishes is also considerate to your guests, many of whom may hesitate to try something homemade if they aren’t 100% certain how it was prepped or the full ingredient list.
Your guests also need something to hydrate themselves. If you’re hosting a non-alcoholic event, why not have a tea-tasting bar instead of wine and spirits? You could introduce your guests to a new herbal or chai blend they adore and that benefits their health.
If you plan to serve adult beverages, why not try something more festive than your standard collins or mule? A grapefruit and cardamom gin fizz is something deserving of a spot on the Four Seasons’ menu. A spiked herbed bourbon punch will have your guests returning to the bowl.
The best hosts give their guests more to do than eating and drinking. One simple idea is breaking out the board games to bring a new level of challenge to your weekly trivia nights. Team up and prove that two heads are better than one!
Your local library is a glorious resource if your home is a bit entertainment-starved. You can rent video projectors and game consoles at many locations. Why not host a holiday karaoke night right in your living room, followed by a dance-off?
A simple deck of cards likewise makes for solid entertainment, especially if you expect a largely adult crowd. Pick up some chips and play one of many poker variations to see who goes home the big winner.
Cleanup is the worst part of any party, but you can make this chore much easier on yourself. Start by creating a soaking station for all those dirty pots, pans, and plates. A clean oversized garbage can that is three-quarters full of warm, soapy water will remove stubborn food particles and provide convenient storage in between dishwasher runs.
Depending on what you serve, you might make less of a carbon footprint with disposables over wasting water on multiple washes. While you should steer clear of plastic, you can find compostable alternatives nearly anywhere. Your guests’ used holiday forks become mulch for your summer garden.
Seasonal gatherings don’t have to send you into an anxious frenzy. Follow a few simple tips for a stress-free holiday get-together!
About the Author
Mia is a health and wellness writer and the Editor In Chief at Body+Mind. She specifically enjoys writing about women’s fitness, as well as mental health-related topics. When she’s not writing, Mia can usually be found reading poetry, taking a dance or cardio class, or hiking.