Entertaining can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. With a bit of planning, you can have time to get your hair done, pick a new outfit, and be a guest at your own party. But, if your experience with entertaining is closer to a fright-night than an elegant affair, read on.
Cooking and planning early is key, of course! Start planning the menu a few weeks in advance. This allows you to maximize the use of your freezer for meal prep.
Make as many things in advance as you possibly can. Use your freezer as your best ally. I make many of the vegetable sides and desserts ahead of time. I think I have even made mashed potatoes in advance with great success!
Today, I’m sharing my top 3 tips for staying organised for your next holiday party…
1. Prepare a Thoughtful Seating Plan
For a dinner party, thinking through the seating plan is a great way to avoid the last minute game of musical chairs and allows you to plan for better conversation flow. Introverts and extroverts alike will have a great time and look forward to being invited back!
How to create a thoughtful seating plan:
- Consider your guest’s needs (left-handed, mobility, etc.)
- Sit quiet friends next to talkers.
- Disperse close friends.
- Seat couples separately (unless they are newly in love ;-))
- Place a big personality in the middle – especially if he is a foodie, wine guru, or has travel legends to share.
- Use place cards to show your guests where they sit.
Most of us don’t have a large formal dining room with seating for 12, but a table with leaves can allow for expansion over the holidays.
Chairs should be selected for other rooms that can serve multi-purposes. For example, if you have a study or kids’ rooms with desks, you can have extra chairs ready to step in when you need them. (hint: this is the value of designing your home with “flow” in mind, so the colours and styles all relate for occasions like this).
2. Storage & Style for Entertaining
When I sit down and get to know my new clients, I like to really understand their lifestyles. If entertaining is a big part of it, then we need to learn more. How often do you entertain? How many people do you typically have over? Is it more often a casual potluck, or do you like to host sit-down dinners?
The more we know in advance, the better organized we can make your home to make having guests over a fun experience for you too.
If hosting a dinner is on your mind, consider a buffet or cabinet in the dining room to hold all kinds of serving pieces: table runners, napkins, and décor to have readily available for when you are in the mood or have an occasion to entertain.
Having napkin rings, coordinated linens, and a selection of low vessels to build a centrepiece stand-by will allow you to prepare the table in advance.
A lovely side-board can also expand your serving surfaces if you prefer to serve dinner buffet-style. Main course items can be placed on the dining table and a dessert and coffee station on the side-board. You can set this all up in advance. All you have to do is bring out the hot dishes.
Don’t forget trivets, serving spoons, salt and pepper, wine glasses (or beverage glasses for kids). These are always the last minute items we are scrambling for at my table.
3. Don’t Forget About Seasonal Decor
Boxing day sales are a great time to get seasonal décor if you are new to home-making or just want to fill-in your collection. Pick a colour theme that relates to your décor and stick to it. Pay attention to whether your home’s style is modern or traditional, shiny and sparkly or more organic, and find items that complement that style.
Seasonal décor for hosting holiday events has a way of growing. I collect a few new things each year as needs and trends change. When it comes time to put it all away, take the time to sort through and cull, or your collection will overtake your storage space.
Here are a few tips:
- Use large plastic bins to organise everything and keep it from getting crushed, one for each occasion.
- Liquor store boxes come ready with great separators to organise your tree ornaments if you prefer to recycle.
- Label everything so you can quickly go to the box with Thanksgiving or Christmas décor without opening all the boxes.
- Bundle holiday lights and wrap around a piece of corrugated cardboard to avoid a tangled mess next year.
Are you ready to blend style, function, and personality into your home organization? Then let’s chat!