It’s that time of year that begs us to get together with friends and family, eat well, and be merry. To make hosting a Christmas party fun instead of stressful, however, a little planning is necessary. Start early. Take your time. Do a little here, a little there. And trust these expert tips:
Make a list - and check it twice. Write down everything that needs doing before the party, then cross off items as you complete them. This keeps you on track, ensuring you don’t forget anything.
Prepare as much as possible ahead of time. Many foods can be frozen for six months, then defrosted a day or two before the party. Other foods can stay in the refrigerator for a night or two before being served to guests. Much decorating can start as soon as Thanksgiving is over; party-specific decorations should go up at least the day before the party.
Make a list of every food you’ll serve at the Christmas party, along with the ingredients required for each and how long it takes to prepare each one. This way you’ll have exactly what you need when you need it, and you won’t discover (for example) the boiled pudding, which needed to be cooked a month ago, still isn’t ready the day before the party.
Before shopping, be sure to double check for anything you’re certain you have in your pantry; often our memories are wrong.
Order meat and poultry for the party at least one month ahead of time.
Start shopping for non-perishable items months ahead of time; you’ll save a bundle when those items go on sale.
Go through your plates, glasses, silverware, and such to be sure you have enough for everyone coming to your Christmas party. If you need to purchase extras, you’ll want to do that as soon as possible.
Be prepared to send guests home with leftovers. Have inexpensive air tight containers handy. Have freezer containers on hand in case you end up with leftovers, too.
Clean your refrigerator just before your big shopping trip. You’ll need the space.
Make a time table for the party day, as well as the big cooking day. Determine what needs to be done when, so everything’s ready in plenty of time for the party.
Send guests invitations at least a month in advance. Christmastime is a busy time. Consider using an online invite service, like evite.com, which makes it easy for guests to RSVP.
This is not the time to try out new recipes. Stick to foods you can prepare with confidence. If you really want to try something new, cook or bake it at least once in advance of the party.
Consider a party theme. Popular choices include tree trimming parties, cookie swap parties, coffee and dessert parties, or Christmas tradition parties. Infuse the theme into as much of the food and decor as possible.