10 Tips for Stress-Free Hosting

Here are 10 tips that'll help you relax and be a guest at your own party. Happy holidays! 

Holiday Entertaining, Minus the Stress

Hosting a party doesn't need to be a hassle. Here are 10 tips that'll help you relax and be a guest at your own holiday gathering.

Illustrations by Marilyn Pollack Naron

Make a Game Plan

We made a couple of plans you can adapt, but have one so that you remember everything you need to do. Plus, crossing things off a list is so satisfying.

Plan to Serve 1 Simple Cocktail

It'll be the drink of the night, and it can be premixed in pitchers to make bartending a little easier.

Get the Timing Down

Pick dishes that get better with time or that can be served at room temperature. That way you don't need to stress about getting things to the table as soon as they're done. Long braises, quiches and tarts, lasagnas — all those make your life easier.

Go with What You Know

If you're famous for a recipe, make it. Knowing you're serving a sure thing will take some pressure off. And there's nothing wrong with trying a new recipe, just give it a trial run before serving it to a crowd.

Plate and Server Plan

Figure out serving platters and utensils ahead of time — no need to scramble at the last minute.

Make As Much As You Can in Advance

The less you have to think about the day-of, the better. You'll be able to take the time to greet your guests while the dishes warm up back in the kitchen.

Cooling Tub

Set aside a tub of salted ice water to quick-chill drinks. If you have the room, this will keep your fridge free for food. Keep a few bar cloths by the tub for wiping down drippy bottles.

Ask for Help

Designate a friend or family member to be in charge of refilling drinks, replenishing snacks or anything that takes some of the burden off you. Bonus points if it's doing something outside of the kitchen, as kitchens get crowded during parties.

Serve Food Buffet Style

Put food and drinks on opposite sides of the room to keep things moving and prevent bottlenecks.

Let the Store Help You

A couple of well-chosen store-bought items — delicious cheese, fancy bread or even a really good appetizer — will take some of the work out of hosting.