It goes without saying that the holidays are one of the most social times of year. Getting together with friends and family is more fundamental to the season than any gifts, decorations or festive tunes. Which means there’s an extremely good chance that you’re going to be hosting one or more events over the holiday season. Here are seven tips to help up your holiday hosting game.
1. Plan, plan, plan
The worst thing you can do is “wing it”. Don’t go to the grocery store and the NSLC the day before your event and try to pick up what you think you might need. Make thorough lists in advance and plan out the evening beforehand.
2. Make it an open house
Rather than entertaining a lot of people all at once, it can be easier to spread the people—and the work—out over a longer timeframe. When it’s an open house, people tend to pop in for a couple of hours and then move on, which puts less pressure on you.
3. Beer and wine are a given
Add some interesting beers and wines to your shopping list. For beer, a broad range of styles — from Light & Refreshing to Bold & Full-flavoured — is a good idea. Lean a little heavier to the darker side of the spectrum, which are a great match for the cooler-weather. For wine, try to have a spectrum of Taste Profiles on hand, in both red, white and sparkling, to accommodate different tastes.
4. Consider a DIY cocktail bar
Think about setting up a do-it-yourself cocktail bar area with ingredients for two or three easy-to-mix cocktails. Print out directions and display at the bar so people know what to do! Add some festive flavours with these great cocktail recipes.
5. How to stock a bar
If you decide to offer a full bar, you’ll want to have an extensive list written up that includes the following: gin, vodka, rum, whisky, sweet and dry vermouth, bitters, a variety of mixes (tonic, soda water, cranberry juice, other juices), martini olives, a cocktail shaker, mixing spoon, ice and a bowl of lemon and lime wedges. Find other essential bar items you should have on hand.
6. Non-alcoholic options are a must
At holiday time, and any time, a good host thinks of all their guests. For those who choose not to drink, or who are designated drivers, have interesting (and high quality) sodas and sparkling juices on your list. To really impress, have the ingredients for a delicious mocktail, too. Like this one.
7. Prepare the food ahead of time.
Choose food that you can prepare ahead and either pop it from freezer to oven, or from fridge to table. This isn’t the time to get ambitious with your cooking. Keep it simple, like these easy options , so you can enjoy some social time with your guests and not be chained to the kitchen!
Lastly, don’t forget about glassware. Whether wine, beer or cocktails, count on having enough glasses on hand for each guest to exchange a dirty glass for a clean one at least once. You might want to rent some glassware to keep costs down.
Last tip? Have fun! With careful planning in advance, you can relax during the main event.