It wouldn’t be the holidays without a packed calendar of holiday gatherings and parties. But when you’re hosting your own party, things can get a little stressful. For the past three years, I’ve helped to host a Christmas party for family and friends and have learned a few tips to save me time, stress, and money, that I hope you’ll find helpful, as well.
Plan, Plan, Plan
The most important tip is to plan ahead. Figure out which foods you want to make, what dishes they need to be made in, and how long they need to cook for. When planning your menu, make sure to include meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. You don’t need multiple versions of each dish; just enough to make sure everyone has something they will like. Don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring a dish. This will take a lot of the stress off of you, and also ensure there is at least one thing each guest likes!
In order to save time, make and freeze some dishes in advance. Just remember to transfer them to the fridge the day before the party to defrost. Take advantage of your crockpot, as well. Find a dip that you can just throw together in the crockpot, which will not only save room in the oven, but also keep the dip warm throughout the entire party.
You can save money by looking to your kitchen and backyard for decoration inspiration. Arrange freshly picked greenery around the table with holly berries, oranges with cloves pressed into them, and winter flowers. You can also fill a decorative bowl with water, cranberries, and floating candles for an elegant centerpiece.
For inspiration on some dishes to make for your party, check out the December issue of Cooking with Paula Deen. We did a whole feature on healthier party food, so you can indulge without the guilt! You’ll find recipes for dips, crostinis, and other fun bite-size nibbles. You can get a sneak peek at some of the recipes here, or pick up a copy of the issue for the whole story!
Julia Sayers grew up with a love and appreciation for good food, instilled in her by her Italian family. She learned to cook from family recipes, passed down from her mother and grandmother. As she grew older, she decided to pursue a career in journalism to express her passion for food through writing. After working for newspapers, a travel magazine, a cookbook publisher, and even as a dolphin photographer in the Florida Keys, Julia came on board with Cooking with Paula Deen as the Associate Editor. She loves that she gets to work with food everyday, whether it be writing about it, tasting delicious goodies in the test kitchen, or overseeing photoshoots.