The holidays are the perfect time for friends and family to gather together under one roof and catch up on all the happenings of the past year. But when that roof happens to be yours, it's easy to get so caught up in cooking, cleaning and all the other stresses of entertaining that you're left out of the loop. Our tips will help you keep your cool and keep your guests happy.
- Let the smells of Christmas hit your guests as soon as they arrive. Keep a pot of mulled apple cider on the stove so the first thing you smell is a delightful mixture of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. You can also set up a "potpourri" in a slow-cooker. Toss some sliced oranges, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and allspice berries into some water and leave the slow-cooker uncovered on low.
- Plan in advance for what you'll need over a number of days. Make extra large batches of items like spiced nuts, salad dressing or gingerbread cake to save time later when hosting more informal celebrations.
- Buffets are a great way to manage feeding a crowd. Get as much done as you can the day before and focus on foods that can be eaten at room temperature so you can simply unwrap and serve.
- Whether you're eating at the table or buffet-style, focus on foods such as roasts or casseroles that take a while to cook, but won't require your constant attention in the kitchen.
- Solve your dessert dilemma by asking everyone to bring a batch of their favorite Christmas cookie (or pie or cake or trifle). Your guests can show off their best recipes and everyone will enjoy the variety.