Designate A Taste Tester
And, no. It doesn’t have to be you. The hardest challenge of cooking is mindlessly eating everything in sight. Instead, designate different people to taste test different dishes before serving. If you find yourself hungry, snack on almonds or another high fiber snack pre-festivities to curb any sudden holiday cravings.
Switch It Up
Holidays bring unhealthy temptations for all of us so switch up that old routine with some healthy options. We’ll all get our share of turkey and dressing for the month so treat your guests to something different like quinoa stuffed eggplant or another veggie yet hearty dish.
The only time I run into problems while hosting is when I don’t prepare and plan ahead. If you know something can be prepped ahead of time, do it. You’ll thank yourself and you’ll guests will thank you too. Let’s be honest; no one wants a grumpy or stressed hostess.
Are there any allergies? Does someone detest meat? Make sure you figure out these answers early on so you’re not scrambling around to accommodate anyone. My rule of thumb is to always have a vegetarian option, just in case.
Get Creative With The Charcuterie
Never, ever, ever let the guests show up without something to munch on. Instead of the typical meat and cheese tray, get creative! Add some seasoned or spiced almonds, grilled veggies and fruits, literally anything. The more variety, the better!
Think Past The Bubbly
Always remember when hosting that not everyone drinks alcohol. Instead of leaving those who don’t sip cocktails to simply water, have other options for them. Non-alcoholic mulled cider and herb infused sparkling waters (http://www.mollysims.com/wellness/water/) are always my holiday go-to. I also love, love, love making my own milk out of raw almonds and sprinkling a little nutmeg in there. It’s a perfect after-meal treat.
Create An Atmosphere
When hosting, I concentrate just as much on a beautiful festive tablescape as I do what I’m serving. It all adds to the experience. Seasonal flowers, place cards, menus, and matching dishes can all take a table setting from “normal” to “the event of the season.”
Give The 411
When hosting an event or dinner (not just for the holidays) it’s important for guests to know all the particulars. Make all information (parking restrictions, directions, attire, etc.) available. People generally enjoy their night on a greater scale when they feel prepared. It doesn’t hurt to include the information within the invitation or as a separate insert.
Ignore The RSVP
Okay, hear me out. In all my years of hosting, I’ve learned there will most likely be more guests than planned. It’s just how it works. So make more than you think you will be serving. If having leftovers for the next week is the worst thing that can happen, you’ll be just fine.
This one should go without saying but I’m making it my parting last bit of entertaining wisdom. Even if you’re stressing out and think you don’t have enough time before the guests arrive…it will be okay. The fact that you’ve put yourself up for the hostess task in the first place is enough to pat yourself on the back for. The moment before the guests arrive—center yourself and get ready for an amazing night. You got this!
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.