Well it’s that time of year again. The snow has fallen, Black Friday has kick started the crazy holiday shopping and we have one month until Christmas… Let the countdown begin! Now, as usual, I will be hosting this year’s family Christmas dinner but, I still have quite a lot of holiday festivities and parties to attend to. So, to stay on top of things, I have created a holiday check list for each week leading up to the big event; so that I can stay organised, sane and still enjoy some time to myself for all the other winter traditions I like to do every year.
The Ultimate Holiday Check List:
One Month Ahead (or more)
- Set dates for the events and send out invitations to family and friends
- Add all holiday festivities and parties to your calendar
- Plan your dinner and other recipes to cook
- Make a grocery list according to the recipes you’ve planned on making
- Write a list of recipients for cards
- Plan gift list and stocking stuffers for all your family and friends
- Grocery shopping (non-perishables & frozen items)
Three Weeks Ahead
- Organise secret Santa
- Make a list of maintenance and cleaning that should be done prior to having guests over
- Finish any last minute gift shopping (including stocking stuffers)
- Shop for miscellaneous things you may need at home before the holidays
Two Weeks Ahead
- Do a DIY project
- Wrap gifts
- Make a holiday playlist
- Set aside time for your favourite holiday traditions (gingerbread house, Christmas movies, etc)
Three Days Ahead
- Grocery shopping (fresh ingredients)
Two Days Ahead
- Prep for Dinner
One Day Ahead
- Prep meals
- Last minute tidying up
- Call your Family
- Fill stockings
Alright, now that you know how you’re going to get everything done in time, here are some ideas, tips and tricks for what to do when it comes to recipes, decorating and hosting this years festivities.
Lets start with decorating. Everyone has a different aesthetic when in comes to holiday decorating but, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, start with a clean slate. Before I switch up my seasonal decor, I like to thoroughly clean my home. And I mean thorough! Clean your windows, vacuum the couch, clean the bathroom, everything! It just makes setting up all the more easier and pleasing. Secondly, I like to unpack all my decorations and make a plan for all the items. This way, I can easily distribute a little bit of the decor in each room. Plus, I feel if I use this technique, each item is appreciated more and gets placed somewhere it can shine! Which brings be to my third tip: decorate your whole home; I do the majority of the decorating in the main living area, but I also refresh each room as well. It doesn’t have to be much either; place a wreath, add some candles, some small decorations, whatever you find fitting. Even if it is a little bit, it still helps to create a cohesive feel to the home.
Another way to keep a cohesive theme going can be through your gift wrapping. Many people leave prop gifts around their home for decoration and this is a very simple and inexpensive way to add some holiday decor and a pop of colour to each room! Create a palette for your gift wrapping so that it not only goes well with your decor, but adds to it! This year I will be using white, red and brown paper with lots of sparkly accents. I won’t go into too much detail now but, check back in the coming weeks for some creative wrapping ideas!
Well, finally time to talk about the piece de resistance, the big event… Christmas dinner! Now, for those of you hosting your first dinner, the check list above will certainly come in handy. But, there’s definitely more to add to it. After you have an idea of how many people you’ll be hosting, you’ll need to create a meal plan to notably accommodate all those attending; and then a little more. Your guests will appreciate being able to help themselves to seconds and you will end up with some great left overs! I mean, who doesn’t love Christmas left overs?
Need a little inspiration? Here are the meals and treats I have planned for my guests to enjoy over the holidays:
- Cranberry scones
- Vegetable frittata
- Maple sausages
- Homemade lattes
- Charcuterie board with seasonal produce
- Baked brie
- Holiday Sangria
- Spinach, fennel & red pear salad from ricardocuisine.com
- Mom’s pecan & cranberry baked stuffing
- Mashed potatoes
- Honey balsamic brussel sprouts
- Rosemary & shallot roasted sweet potatoes
- Turkey with gravy made from scratch
- Citrus cranberry sauce
- Herb & garlic butter
- Pandan shortbread cookies
- Varieties of homemade fudge
- Gingerbread cookies & house
- Hot Chocolate
Yum! This all sounds amazing but there’s just a few other things to remember to have on hand; no matter what you’ll be serving. Whether you’re hosting a family dinner or a cocktail party, make sure you have some snacks and treats on hand as well as a variety of beverages. I like to a variety of juices, flat & sparkling water chilling in the fridge for drink mix or just to serve to my guests. In addition to that, depending on how many people you’re hosting, you’ll want to have a few of the basic drink fixings; vodka, gin, rum, whiskey and a variety of wines. If you’re looking to host a group, I like to have the bar stocked but I will also have a prepared drink already made. This is a great idea especially if you’re on a budget.
Also on my to buy list for hosting a holiday party? Ice, napkins, table cloth, serving utensils and dishes are all things a cannot go without.
Finally, Just a few tips for the host this year.
- Strategic seating is one of the best things you can do when hosting a dinner. Seat those you know get along or will have something in common so that they can easily start a conversation. Also, Don’t forget to introduce all your guests to each other!
- Make a playlist. Not only will it set the mood but there will never be any awkward silences.
- Always make more than you need. You’ll have enough for everyone to enjoy a serving or two and left over for yourself!
- Prep your ingredients ahead of time. Chefs use this technique called mise en place. Measuring out and prepping all your ingredients will make cooking easy peasy.
- Make as much as you can ahead of time. I try to do most of it the day before so that there is less to do the day of. It will alleviate the amount of prep, mess and stress the day of your party.
- Clean as you go. Your place will look clean for when guest arrive and you won’t have a terrible amount of dishes to do afterwards. I am continuously running the dishwasher and filling it as I go, which is great in an apartment kitchen!
- Socialise! The whole reason you’re hosting this event is so that it’s amazing. So enjoy all your hard work too and take sometime to relax and enjoy socialising with your guests.
Well, that’s all folks! Good luck on hosting your holiday festivities this year, I hope all my guide to the hosting the holidays will alleviate some of the stress and make it more enjoyable! Also, check back later to get the recipes for some of the recipes mentioned earlier. More content on how to celebrate the winter holidays this year will be up on the blog shortly!