Party Preparations | Holiday Talk
If you celebrate Christmas this time of year, I actually hope that you’re nestled up on the couch with a glass of red in hand, a blanket covering you and a fire lit somewhere nearby. I hope that your home is already clean and your menu for the next two days has been prepared, fresh groceries are freshly purchased in the refrigerator and bowls on the countertop are overflowing with room temperature ingredients. On a shelf nearby, I hope a candle that was slightly overpriced is flickering it’s little flame and letting it’s fragrance fill the air. I hope you’re feeling peaceful.
I love hosting. It’s one of my absolute favorite things to do. And even still, there can be a resting stress that has come along with it in the past. While I am not hosting anyone this year for either day, I’ve spent some time day dreaming about what it might look like if I had invited the masses. I even went ahead and set the table, almost in full, for the sake of posting and offering some tips that help everything move along a little smoother on the days when we welcome loved ones in and because I love arranging things and changing them and seeing what works and what might not.
Please don’t ever let “not having enough space” or “not owning enough matching dishes” keep you from welcoming the ones that you love, the ones that you’ve just met or the ones who might not have another place to land. It’s not ever about the arrangements or the food that create the perfection of the day, it’s creating a space for people to feel loved, seen and cared for. Often the other things are the cherry on top…
My Top Tips for keeping calm before guests arrive + Keeping the day of running smoothly:
Two or three days prior to guest coming, have your home cleaned. The evening before they arrive, sweep through the house for light touch ups.
Have your full menu written and shopped for completely the afternoon before you start preparing the food. Take the time to list every ingredient and buy just a little extra in quantity. This eliminates all last minute shopping day of. Purchase alcohol then as well, if drinking.
Set the table the evening prior, as in full place settings right down to the napkins. If you have young children, prepare the table after they’ve gone to bed. If you have older kids, invite them to help you and make it fun… let them taste the fun of creating a cozy space for others. And if you don’t have kids, LUCKY! Totally kidding… but really you don’t have to worry about sticky fingers spoiling the plates, so that’s dreamy.
As much food preparation that you can do the day before, do! I know this may seem like the days leading up to the “big” day become very packed but on the day of you’ll feel so relaxed knowing that the heavy lifting has been completed.
I always chill several carafes of water about an hour before guests arrive. This allows for them to have cold water without needing ice or getting up 5x for more water during the meal.
Make sure you leave that kitchen and/or the dining room 45 minutes before the first person is supposed to arrive and make yourself look good. Look good, feel good! The ones to arrive first can jump in and help you wrap up those final details, if needed. It’s part of the fun.
Equip the table with items so that no-one, including you as the hostess have to get up from the table once you’ve sat down. ENJOY what you’ve prepared. People watch you for the mood and tone to be set.
Breath deep. Remember that the ones that are with you are there because they love you and that’s what matters.
Easy tips for arranging the “perfect” table…
When decorating always work with odd numbers, 1 / 3 / 5 are often the best.
Items do not have to be centered and they can be just as beautiful, sometimes this makes it feel like less is more too, just by arranging pieces off-centered.
Don’t want to spend money on a lavish flower arrangement? Buy greens (Trader Joes is great for this) and cover the center of the table with them or carefully wrap them around lights if you have an industrial style light (keep the greens away from the lightbulbs). If you put them on the table you can tuck candles (inside of candle holders) into the center of the greens.
Don’t want to buy greens? Thrift some simple gold candle holders and place tall white candles in them. (use clear hair ties at the base to help keep them upright). Center the candles down the length of the table in clusters of odd numbers or altogether in a straight line.
Dress it up! Put some cranberries (from the fruits section @ the grocery) loose on the table between candles or on a black plate with candles on either side. They’re so cute and add a fun pop! Even cuter- add rosemary to the mix, maybe on top of the cranberries. Play with it! Have fun.
Leave wine bottles, uncorked down the table. They make for easy grabbing and they look pretty. This also welcomes people to make themselves at home when they arrive with a glass handy to pour into and helps them claim their seat.
Please don’t ever be afraid to mix and match plates and glasses.. Sometimes if one of my plates looks lonely I layer a bigger plate underneath of it and ta-da, it’s so cute.
A traditional setting of nice flatware always anchors the table too.
If you don’t have linens for napkins, I’d encourage you to order some. This doesn’t have to be expensive. I ordered simple white flour sack napkins for our wedding and we’ve reused them non-stop for the past almost three years. These can be folded fancy or laid out undone and they’re the perfect touch.
I hope the holidays are about to fill your house with too much noise, all of the laughter, tears of goodness and happy memories to cling to for the seasons to come. The pictures of our family all together are so very cherished by me and every year I greet the holidays with anticipation of gathering a new set of images that our children will love.
Merry Christmas + Happy Holidays.