The holiday season is here which means that the themed parties and events are sure to follow. If you are planning your own shindig, you've likely finalized the menu, secured the guest list and purchased a few drink options to create the vibe. However, there are bound to be a few things that you may have forgotten or did not consider as important.
Amber Mayfield—author of Little Black Book Of Entertaining and founder of experiential agency To Be Hosted and entertaining platform While Entertaining—shared her vital tips to keep in mind when hosting for the holidays.
Small Touches Go A Long Way
"Entertaining always comes back to how people feel when they're at your party or at your home. We live in such an aesthetically driven society and juncture in time and I love when things look nice however more emphasis should be put on how people feel when they are in your space."
Having glasses of bubbly upon arrival, a coat rack to place coats, fuzzy socks for guests to relax in or a chocolate chip cookie goodie bag to take home are little yet impactful ways to create a welcoming environment and showcase your hospitality in a memorable way.
Design Within Your Range
Building a cohesive aesthetic that keeps in line with holiday tones can be easily established. Mayfield suggests visiting your local thrift store or home store to find napkins, plates or table decor that may not necessarily match but looks visually stunning. Fresh floral arrangements are always a go-to but the incorporation of dried berries or eucalyptus plants can inspire a sense of warmness at a table with ease.
"I also think place cards and seating charts are a nice way to make everybody feel like you've really thought through the gathering. They can be designed on Canva or handwritten. I like to put notes inside of my place cards as a nice surprise for people.You can encourage guests to open up the inside of their place card and watch their delight to find a kind note from the host."
Create A Cozy Ambiance With Slight Tweaks
A large part of curating a holiday party where guests feel comfortable enough to enjoy themselves in having a cheerful space. Setting the mood can be done with specific alterations—such as lighting, a fire throwback playlist or a light fragrance depending on the type of event—that allow you to execute the vibe you desire.
"If you can get different color light bulbs from your local home store, that could be a fun way to change up the ambiance, especially if your lights aren't already set on dimmers. Candles always set the mood. I always just use plain no scent white candles because you don't want any sense competing with all the food that you're serving."
Know Your Guests and Their Dietary Needs
Keeping good company is integral to life and an unforgettable dining experience. Making sure that you have a final headcount days in advance will allow for a more seamless party. If you do not have the luxury of having more time, a quick check-in text can suffice. Mayfield even recommended having guests RSVP with their favorite song and dietary restrictions so that they feel represented in the festivities.
"I think you have to think about your menu in terms of the most common foods that most people can eat. It can be a challenge. So if you can, offer a chicken, a fish and a hearty, no meat pasta situation that can help you get away with it. You should be covered with that. If you're a few days out and you haven't asked people for their dietary restrictions in advance, I think it doesn't hurt to just shoot everybody a quick message. If something comes up and you need an extra dish, if you can cook it great. If not, find a local restaurant that you can order from and have that option available.You would hate for everybody to be chowing down and then one person feels like they can only have salad."