Throwing a holiday party means having to prepare a holiday meal. Sometimes, this can get crazy, but if you follow a few simple rules, it can be a bit easier. The number of guests, meal plans, special meal needs and more all play a role in how easy it is to throw the party. Though if you take it easy and plan ahead, you can be the host who enjoys the party just like the invited guests.

The goal is always to have fun and enjoy your holiday meal with family and friends.

Holiday Meal Tips

Keep it Simple

During the holidays, it is better to keep your hour d’oeuvres simple. A beautiful cheese platter with dried fruits and nuts is always festive. Another way to add some festivity to your snacks table is by adding a bowl of olives, savory popcorn, and Marcona almonds are all great options. I like serving crudites for those who may not want such rich foods or are perhaps trying to eat a bit healthier around the holidays.

Plan The Menu

For a sit-down dinner, try to make a menu that can be prepared somewhat ahead of time. Some great options would be beef Bourguignon, braised short ribs, coq au vin that can be made the day before. When the dinner party starts, I like to start with a good salad that incorporates some seasonal ingredients like pomegranates, pears, citrus, candied nuts. A winter squash soup is also a lovely way to begin a meal. Dessert can be a simple winter fruit crisp or a spice cake served with ice cream.

Get a Head Count

When it comes to a holiday meal, any time of year, depending on the number of guests, a simple yet broad menu works best. For buffet holiday parties with  over 12 people, I like to offer 2- different entrees. Add a vegetable and perhaps a roasted potato or a roasted root vegetable. Offering a nice crisp green salad always rounds out the menu as well as some delicious small rolls or sliced baguette.

Holiday Meal Cheese Platter

Always Can Use a Drink

Then there are the drinks. Having a festive specialty drink is always welcomed by the guests. However, if you’re mixing the drinks yourself, keep it simple. The goal is not to spend all of your time becoming the bartender at your own party. You could make a nice holiday punch bowl with an adult kick to it, all you need to do is mix it ahead of time. A splash of Pomegranate liqueur or Elderflower liqueur is a nice addition to Prosecco or Champagne. If you’re having a larger cocktail party, think about hiring a bartender to help with the party. A white Christmas cosmo (made with white cranberry juice) is one of my favorites and can be made ahead of time. All you would need to do the night of is shake with ice and serve.

Make Ahead of Time

There are a few things you could get done more than a day before the party. One such example is shopping for non-perishable foods. Spices, flour, sugar etc. all could be shopped for two, three four or more days before the party. You could also make your holiday cookie dough or pie crusts ahead of time. All you need to do is make sure you freeze them until you’re ready to use them.

Holiday Meal Cookies

Valuable Space

The oven can be valuable space during the prep time of any holiday dinner party. If you don’t have enough room in your oven to cook multiple dishes at once, then consider adding more room temperature dishes to the menu. Green salads, oven roasted tomatoes, grilled vegetable platters, vegetable slaws are some great examples.

Have Fun!

The most important tip is to have fun! A holiday party of any kind should be a time of joy for everyone, even the hosts. If you find yourself working way too hard to throw and plan the party, ask friends for help. Maybe a few good friends could bring a dish or two to help ease the stress on your kitchen. The goal is to have a good time with family and friends. Happy holidays everyone!

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