You don't have to choose between a great experience for your guests and actually enjoying the holiday yourself! Easy entertaining tips.
We've all done it. Gotten carried away by dreams of the perfect holiday, only to get bogged down in the kitchen the day-of and not even get to say “hi” to half your guests.
It's easy to get carried away with all of the pressure that often surrounds holidays. I truly love entertaining though and have tweaked my process over the years so that I feel confident my guests are having a good time and I can actually celebrate with them.
Here are the 7 tips for easy entertaining that I use in my own home every year!
7 Tips for Easy Entertaining
These are my tried and true holiday hacks I use every year, any time I'm entertaining. Whether you're hosting family for a week or having a group of friends over for a big holiday brunch, these easy entertaining tips can make all the difference in your experience. And remember, your guests came to see you! They don't want you stuck in the kitchen the whole time and your mood sets the tone for the whole event. So never feel guilty about simplifying, outsourcing, or tweaking holiday traditions to work for you.
1. Have a Plan
Anyone who knows me at all or has been following Prep Dish saw this one coming 🙂
I'm a planner by nature but, even if you're not, there's no denying that a detailed plan makes for easier holiday entertaining. Plan out all of the meals you plan to serve ahead of time. This not only helps you feel calmer leading up to the event, it also avoids the tedious back and forth discussion on what to do for meals that often happens when you get a group together with no clean plan.
Bonus Holiday Hack: Write out the plan where everyone can see it! That way they know what's coming without constantly asking you what's next on the meal plan.
2. Ask for help!
People want to feel like they're contributing, so let them!
Many people will bring something to a holiday get together whether you ask them or not so you might as well let them know what would be most helpful. This not only makes it more useful to you, it also makes it easier on your guests. If they know what to bring, they'll feel more confident in their contributions.
I like to make my meal plan first and then identify any gaps where I could use some help. Maybe I'm planning to make a dinner that's a bit more involved and I could use help with the dessert. Or maybe I've got dinner covered but would love someone to bring over a breakfast casserole. Don't be afraid to ask for help! Everyone will have a better time if you're less stressed.
3. Keep it Simple
I went to culinary school and then worked for years as a personal chef. I have some “fancy” recipes & kitchen techniques in my back pocket. That said, I find that the recipes that get the most rave reviews are often the simplest!
A meal does not have to be complicated or time-intensive to be delicious. Most people love the homey flavors that come with simpler fare. Don't be afraid to serve your tried and true favorite meals, even if they're quite simple.
I love serving my smoked paprika chicken to guests and it only has 4 ingredients! (If you're a Prep Dish subscriber, I'm sure you recognize this one! It's a favorite among many of our subscribers as well.)
Another thing you can do is choose a really nice piece of seafood or cut of meat. A high quality steak of a Chilean sea bass really doesn't need anything other than salt and pepper, but they still seem impressive.
If you want to make something with a real “wow-factor,” try my salt-encrusted whole fish! It's so simple, but incredibly festive. Similarly, poached pears are a beautiful, sophisticated dessert that comes together quite easily. Keep an eye out for those recipes that seem a little special but won't require hours in the kitchen.
Bonus Holiday Hack: Start a list on your phone, on Trello or wherever you keep notes of simple meals you'd feel great about serving to guests. Add to it anytime throughout the year when you find a new easy favorite!
4. Choose “Build Your Own” Style Meals
“Build your own” meals are a standby in my house, particularly when I have guests staying for multiple days. This strategy works especially well if you're serving a group with mixed dietary restrictions, allergies or simply varied preferences.
For example, I might set up a breakfast taco bar for the morning meal or a build your own salad station for lunch. I also love serving a couple of types of chili, one vegan and one paleo, or a baked potato bar. Anything where guests can add their own toppings and make the meal work for them, is perfect.
5. Think Through ALL of the Meals
It's easy to get caught up in the big holiday dinner but don't forget breakfasts, lunches and snacks!
These meals are less of a focus, but still important to plan out. If you feel overwhelmed by the number of meals you'll need to serve, particularly if you're having multi-day guests, this is an excellent chance to ask for help! Ask your guests to take care of breakfast or lunch.
You may also want to go out for some meals of course but I recommend having some back up options at home as it can be hard to coordinate a large group.
6. Do Advanced Prep
Meal prep is a complete game changer when it comes to easy entertaining. Once you have your meal plan set, think through what steps you can complete ahead of time. If you include freezer meal prep, you can begin prepping weeks ahead of time! This not only makes it easier on the actual holiday, it also leads to lower stress going into the holiday season.
For example, you might make a frittata, breakfast burritos, muffins or some homemade granola a few weeks ahead and store in the freezer so breakfast is taken care of and you can focus on holiday dinners.
Want to learn more about freezer meal prep? Check out my short video on How to Make Healthy Crockpot Freezer Meals!
7. Try Our Holiday Meal Plans!
If you want a truly easy holiday this year, I've created some holiday-specific meal prep meal plans perfect for the season!
I have a couple of options depending on what you need:
With 24 make-ahead and prep-ahead recipes, our holiday e-Cookbook is perfect for Thanksgiving or a big Christmas dinner.
Recipes include Mashed Potatoes & Cauliflower, Cornbread Stuffing w/ Pumpkin Seeds, Rosemary Citrus Turkey Breast and Pumpkin Pudding Parfaits.
You'll also find recipes for make-ahead breakfasts, festive sides and even cocktails/mocktails! While the recipes are delicious though, what sets this e-cookbook apart is the inclusion of detailed meal prep instructions for stress free holiday entertaining!
If you entertain a lot throughout the year, my entertainment bundle is the best choice. This one goes beyond Thanksgiving and Christmas and includes festive menus for occasions like tailgates, Super Bowl, friends nights and even 2 kids birthday party menus!
It also includes 2 full prep-ahead menus for the big holiday dinners.
I hope my tips for easy entertaining help you have a low stress holiday season this year! Have tips or holiday hacks of your own? Leave a comment or message me on Instagram @prepdish. I'd love to hear!