Wednesday 31 October 2018

Tips and Tricks for Hosting a Successful Holiday Dinner & Continental Drift Link-Up

Hosting during the holidays can be very stressful but there are certain things that I've learned to do to elevate the stress.  My youngest daughter was born on Dec. 21st  and I hosted Christmas brunch on Dec. 25th.  Sounds crazy but really it felt easier to do that than to have to bundle up a new baby and a toddler, to venture outside in -40C.   Since then, we have hosted a family birthday celebration, a kids birthday party and a friends holiday party over the holiday season (end of November- prior to Christmas).   I will say that I generally just enjoy hosting and planning to have people over, but that doesn't mean I don't feel overwhelmed.    Here are a few tips and tricks that I follow for our large family dinners.  

1.  Save the date.  Because everyone is super busy in December with their own stuff, I usually set the date in late October.  I text everyone, find out their availability and try my best to accommodate.  I always aim to have big family/friend events on Saturdays because I work full-time outside of our home and  this gives me Friday evening and Sunday as buffer days.

2.  Keep the menu simple and shop on-line I've done order-in pizza and paper plates in the past, especially when the kids were little.  More often then not,  I do a full dinner, or sometimes brunch depending on everyone's schedule.  Some simple dinners are:
  • Turkey
  • Ham (Costco spiral ham is my favorite)
  • Pulled Pork (Slow Cooker)
I try to think as simply as I can and prep as many salads or side dishes ahead of time.  At a minimum I have the menu set the weekend before, if not a couple of weeks ahead.  I write it ALL down and shop online a few days before.  I love Click & Collect and if anything isn't available, I still have a few days to stop by to pick up in time for the weekend.    

3.  Drinks.  Don't forget to think about what you will be serving for drinks.  For brunch I usually keep it to juice and pre-made smoothies.  In the evening we usually have beer, red wine, white wine, and something hard like Jack Daniels.  We also have some canned pop on hand as an non-alcoholic option.  This really depends on your crowd, but make sure you plan and do inventory at least a week or two in advance so you don't have to make a trip to the liquor store the week of the event.

4.  Cleaning.  Argh.  My advice is clean minimally before hand, bathrooms, vacuum, and decorate if it's a special time of the year.  Get a cleaner to do a deep clean after the event rather than before.  Basically do as I say, not as I do. I am kind of crazy about cleaning, I start cleaning the weekend before and throughout the week and then clean afterwards too.  Don't do this!!!! It's stupid.  No one really even notices your walls, floors, baseboards, except you.

5.  Ask for help.  I don't ask for people to bring food, though I am not  opposed to potlucks, it's just not our way for birthday celebrations.  My grandma usually likes to make the birthday cake for each one of us and it's something my children have grown to love and appreciate.  It's special.  Where I do ask for help is from my husband.  He takes the kids out of the house between 1-4 p.m.!  This allows me to tidy up the house, get everything set up, cook, and get myself ready as much as possible.

6.  Dishes & Decorations.   Get all of your serving dishes, good cutlery, etc.,  all ready the night before and labeled so that you now you have everything you need and it's clean.  (Tip: If you label everything it helps people who wish to "help" in the kitchen know where you want what)  If you are going to use paper/plastic, make sure to take inventory before you order your groceries.  Also decorate ahead of time and get your table extensions, table cloths, dinner table trays, all ready to go the night before or first thing in the morning.  

7.  Hair, Make-up & Outfit.  I always know in advance, like the weekend before, what I am going to wear, what jewelry I need, and how I want to do my hair, etc.  TIP, do this for your children and husband as well.  You don't have time to do laundry the day before.
 I do my make-up and hair mid-morning or early afternoon. I always shower the night before because I don't have time to deal with blow drying or air drying my hair, etc.    My hair and make-up can usually be quickly touched up and   I can quickly just throw on my clothes before everyone arrives and use an apron to finish up in the kitchen.

8.  Husband & wife  duties for hosting.  You need to decide these ahead of time!!!!!  Seriously, you'll just end up snapping at each other or annoyed with one another if you don't.  (I've learned this obviously the hard way) I am in the kitchen.  THE ONLY PERSON IN THE KITCHEN, chatting away with guests, who for the most part stay on the other side of the island (yep, control freak).  Logan is in charge of putting away people's coats and getting them drinks.  I usually have finger snacks out on the table for people to enjoy with their drinks. 

9 Kids and Parties.  Now that the girls are older, they mostly are asked to sit and visit with family members or entertain their younger cousins.  When they were younger, I would have a special toy (puzzle, simple coloring, small tub of legos,  playdough,etc.)  set up on the floor or little side table for them to play with on their own.   Having a special  or new activity for them to do, think independent play, is a great way to keep them entertained and out of the kitchen as you are preparing the last minute things for dinner.  I am  also pretty frank with my girls about how I want them to behave when we have company and have been since they were little.  

 10.  Dishes.  Don't do dishes while company is over, just be with them and enjoy the evening.  Choose plates that can go into the dishwasher at the end of the evening.  Leave other dishes until the next day if you don't have the energy to deal with them.  

11.  ENJOY.  Most importantly enjoy the people that are in your life and embrace the chaos.  If this means you do take-out, potluck, or coffee and cake, that's perfectly fine.  . Remember the most important thing is to be present with friends and family.  

Now please follow each of your hosts Bojana of  BodaciousblogSydney Shop Girl and Mutton Style  on at least one platform (Instagram, Twitter or blog) and comment on their blogs.  It would be great if you could read and comment on the blog above yours in the link up.  You might make a new friend. Please also do add a link back to our blogs on your posts to help the linkup grow.  Thanks for stopping by, we look forward to learning more about everyone!

Join us for the Continental Drift link-up below.


  1. So many great ideas! I am excited already for the holidays.

    SSG xxx


  2. Your parties sound so well thought out! I have done Christmas at my place a few times but I usually find it too stressful, it's not my favourite thing, haha! I just can't get organised enough!

    Hope that you are having a good week and a nice start to November! :)

    Away From The Blue Blog

    1. I love hosting but can completely understand that it's not for everyone. If there are others in your life that enjoy it, let them have it and offer to bring something along. 😊 .Thanks for stopping by.

  3. This list makes it SO much easier. I have the outfits's the cleaning that I wait until the last minute to do...

    1. Cleaning is the worst for me especially since I am crazy about it and one cleaning duty just leads to another and another. Hahahha. Thanks for atoppsto by and linking up with us.

  4. An exciting and successful dinner party is one of the greatest achievements for any host. The guests experience should be memorable. Loved reading your tips...

  5. Hosting dinner is a great opportunity to shower your love and affection upon the people, who are integral parts of your life.