So you’re having your friends, coworkers and neighbors over for some holiday festivities. Fantastic! When we envision hosting a party, we envision having fun yukking it up with friends, relaxing with a glass of champagne and basking in the festive decor we have planned. We don’t envision running around like a crazy person trying to tack up lights, getting food in and out of the oven and having the first guests arrive before we’ve had time to put the finishing touches on our apparel. How do we do it?

The most important tip: Time is on your side. Plan in advance to destress the day of the party. If you wait until the morning of the event to figure out your menu, it will be hard to recover!
1. Think strategically about your menu. You probably won’t want to spend your party frying spring rolls and baking pigs in blankets. We recommend no more than 2 items that require last-minute fussing for your menu. Fill the rest with simple items like cheeses, salumi/charcuterie and your favorite hot dip with bread or tortilla chips. The holidays are perfect for rich foods–latkes, bread pudding, mashed potatoes, braised short ribs, mulled wine–but a little balance from bright crisp flavors will be a welcome counterpoint.
2. Aim to complete all decor except fresh flowers well in advance of the event. Get the flowers the day before or the day of as a finishing touch. By doing the decorations in advance, you won’t be fumbling for a tack for the mistletoe or trying to figure out how to plug in those lights when the cord is too short on the day of the party. Plus, it gives you longer to enjoy the festive mood!
3. Besides planning a menu, decide how you are going to present the food in advance. When I entertain, I usually write all the dishes and condiments I plan to serve on post-it notes and stick the note on each dish, bowl or vessel. Then I look for all the serving utensils I’ll need for everything and put it with the platter or dish everything is going on. I do this several days before the party so everything is ready and I’m not fumbling around for these tools.
4. The bar takes advance planning, too. What will you serve your guests to drink in terms of alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages? In the winter you can use your garage or deck as a place to get everything cold. If you’re serving a specialty cocktail, try recipes in advance to be sure you’re happy with the results (what a great way to pass a winter evening!). Keep mixers and nonalcoholic beverages in mind, too. Remember, if you have gin, you need tonic water and limes. If you have vodka, you probably want cranberry and orange juices. You’ll also need plenty of ice on hand for cocktails and for chilling your white wine, champagne and beer.
5. Is this starting to sound like too much to handle? Why not call a caterer? A full-service off-site caterer can handle everything from soup to nuts, including arranging for table and linen rentals, pouring drinks at the bar, passing items hot from the pan and of course sticking around to clean up when the festivities end. Your guests will love that you showed the foresight to ensure you don’t have to work at your own party! We would love to hear from you and help you out any time you are planning a celebration. Give us a call at 703-791-9328 to get started!