If you are hosting some family or friend get-togethers during the holiday season, I hope this post will help you as you prepare your home, food, and hearts.
When we lived in Australia far from family, we’d celebrate birthdays with a small present and a fun event. Since moving home, my mother plans the children’s birthday parties since gifts are her love language, and she enjoys it so much.
The only parties I’ve planned were in Italy. They were themed and didn’t have children or food! So partying with four tiny ones is a different direction for sure.
That said, lately I’m challenged to become more hospitable. To open my home and become an example for my children in loving others through their stomach. With four babies so close together in age, it’s a challenge for me to think in advance of the next three hours, much less to plan a major get together. So I’m going to break it down into smaller, doable advice and work my way up to a major party.
We’ll see how long it takes me to get there. I’ve asked my party planning bloggy friends to help me with some tips as well, so here are ways to make hosting others easy even with small ones.
1. Spend time on meal planning.
You want a good mix of hot, cold, easy and more complicated fare. In England, my friend and I planned an elaborate spread after a youth event at a Christian organization where we volunteered. We had nearly 75 people attend and wanted awesome food. Unfortunately, half of our meals needed to be baked, we only had two ovens, and one of them we managed to set on fire which set off the alarm in this 500-year-old manor home. Classic.
Having a lot of easy-to-eat food on hand, like hors d’oeuvres, gives guests something to do immediately upon arriving. You can’t have too many dips and appetizers.
After practice for the Christmas play last night, we had family over for dinner. I made baked brie dip which was easy and everyone ate it up, including the kids! I took a pound of brie, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, and put them into an oven safe ramekin. Add in the rosemary and garlic, cook for around 10 minutes, stirring at 5. It and the Wheat Thins were gone in minutes.
2. Make a place for the kids.
Since you likely have kids, this won’t be tough. However, if the kid play areas are all upstairs and you’d rather them play downstairs – or avoid toddlers who aren’t used to stairs going up and down – set up a kid-friendly play area. Bring the toys or play sets that require imagination like tea sets, play kitchens, LEGO, etc. (Thanks, Sunny Day Family)
3. Add decorative touches.
One year we threw a Luau in February – since we were all sick of the cold – and we folded over 100+ colored napkins in the shape of flowers and scattered them on the floor… Let me assure you that will not be happening again. Youthful enthusiasm, that was. That said, it’s nice to have some decorative touches around the home that make your space approachable and warm.
We have a few pumpkins around, as well as some nice crotons in the front yard that are welcoming. With fall as your backdrop, you really don’t need to buy much of anything. Pick a few leaves, use a few branches, and make an autumn oasis inside.
4. Visit the party supply store.
Instead of buying 15 specialty napkins for $15 dollars online, visit a party supply store. If you have more people than fine china, or don’t want to risk breakage with a lot of small children running around, buy plastic plates or cups that match your theme. You can find napkins, cups, and table poppers. And one or two bags of seasonal confetti will make great decoration on your tables (Thanks, The Jenny Evolution).
5. Invite virtually.
If you’re having a larger get-together, you may want to skip the paper invites. Especially if you’re trying to do Christmas cards as well. There are certain online invite programs that can also help you organize who is bringing what food, and that’ll help manage your RSVPs. Paperless post and Punchbowl are two. (Thanks, Sunshine and Hurricanes).
6. Keep counter tops and surfaces clean.
You don’t have to make your home be something it’s not. Getting together is about connection not perfection. That said, it’s nice to be in a home that is picked up and tidy. By clearing surfaces and counter tops, this gives the illusion that the home is open and ordered. Plus, you’ll likely need all that counter space for food. (Thanks, Practical Mommy).
7. Don’t forget seasonal wares.
Just the other day I found 5 beautiful Christmas glasses I didn’t know we had. Put a reminder to use any seasonal bakeware or cutlery out so you can enjoy it. Also, in that vein, try to bake in what you serve.
Instead of having to bake then move to another dish (thus dirtying two), invest in some nice bakeware that can be used to serve. You can also spice up neutral decor like napkins by creating simple seasonal napkin holders or centerpieces.
Most of all… try to cut out things that cause stress because spending time with family and friends for the holidays should be enjoyable, not stressful!
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