Hosting for a big group of people can be intimidating; you want the night to go just right, which usually leads to a huge amount of stress that isn’t needed. Relax. Hosting 25-30 of your closest friends and family for Christmas doesn’t have to be stressful. You can do this! You can even do it in an eco-friendly manner.
For me, this means making my perogies ahead of time (and not pinching and rolling out dough the day before – or even worse, that morning). It may mean making bread and desserts weeks in advance and simply having to pull from the freezer the night before, or morning of, and letting it thaw out.
Whatever it is you can do ahead of time, do it!
The worst part about hosting a mass of people is the notion that your house has to be spotless. Pssst: it doesn’t. Do a deep-clean a week or two in advance (seriously, guys, it’s all about preparation) so you’re not worried about a cluttered basement or kitchen when your guests arrive. Do a full house sweep of floors, bathrooms, and any linens that are needed a day or two before Christmas, or whenever your celebration starts, getting the longest cleaning jobs out of the way first. Designate the day-of cleaning (see: spot cleaning) to someone who isn’t doing any cooking. This also helps you from resenting the person relaxing on the couch while you slave away over a hot stove all day. If you’re co-hosting, break up the chores for less time cleaning and more time enjoying the holiday.
Stop Trying to Make it Pinterest-Worthy
Gold charger plates, crystal goblets, real garland snaked throughout the dinner-table, expertly carved place settings, Christmassy gift bags for each of your guests… these are only a few things you can find on Pinterest (you can find tons of ridiculous decor ideas that I’ll never implement here). While they look incredibly adorable in photos and would be great to try out for an intimate gathering, if your dinner party extends beyond 6 people, it’s not going to be worth your effort. Unless you’re rich as fuck (kudos) and paying for a designer to make your Christmas dinner party dreams come true, close the Pinterest app and go simple.
Candles, a centrepiece you’ve been using years past, simple greenery, a table runner or table-cloth, a couple of baubles to dress up the table? Pick one or two for your tablescape. That’s all you need.
Stick to a Schedule
Schedule your meal out. Do a quick calculation of how long your turkey will need in the oven (roughly 15 minutes per pound for an un-stuffed bird…although, you probably shouldn’t stuff it, you know, bacteria and stuff. Take ‘er out and let it rest for 15-20 minutes, and remember that it will STILL BE COOKING while resting), how long each of your sides take and what can be done last or taken out of the fridge (salads and the like) and what can sit in the oven or be quickly re-heated while your turkey is resting.
Your turkey (or ham or chicken or whatever) will always take the most amount of time.
Remember that thawing a turkey can take 1-6 days depend on its size AND if you’re doing a brine, it should be done 24 hours prior for ultimate deliciousness.
Take a Moment
You know, to just breathe. Chances are, you’re starting to feel a little harried the closer dinner rolls around. Whether it’s taking a minute for some yoga, meditation, or just TV watching in the morning before you get going (or in the middle of cooking), take a break.
Seriously. Do it. Stop rolling your eyes. Sit down and breathe for 10 minutes if you think you can’t make it through with a proper break.You can stop and breathe anywhere, so making excuses in your own home won’t work.
Let People Help
For fucks’ sake, let them help! There’s this weird notion that your dinner won’t be great if someone else pitches in. I’ve always told people to just sit and relax while I stress out over the stove (something that actually makes me a weird happy kind of stressed) instead of letting them do things. It’s stupid. Let them help. They’re happy to. Even if it’s just setting the table or whipping some mashed potatoes or even cutting a carrot or two. Get over yourself and let them into that kitchen. I mean, if they get out of hand, you have your wooden spoon, right?
It’s always that scene where mom, or grandma, won’t sit down until everyone’s fed and happy. Remember that you just took hours to make the imperfect perfect table setting and the moistest (Sorry) bird around; enjoy the damn day. Things will always go wrong when hosting, but shrugging it off is key to making it through.