How To Throw The Perfect Holiday Party

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When it comes to hosting guests for dinner, I feel like I have it down pat. Maybe it’s that every single holiday meal in our family takes place around my dinning room table. Or perhaps it’s because at least three times per year we host 80 guests to the farm for long table dinners. But, regardless of the reason, throwing a dinner party has become a stress-free experience around here.

My top tips for throwing a relaxed and enjoyable festive fete.

Tip #1: Plan ahead

Now in life, I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl but I’ll be real honest with you, since I’m no culinary all-star the last thing you’d find me doing is serving an untested recipe to my guests. To make your party as stress-free as possible be sure to plan your menu in advance and make a meal you’re confident in or at the very least test out any new recipes before the big night.

Tip #2: Prep What Can Be Done Ahead of Time

There’s no point in going to the effort of hosting your friends and family for the holidays if you’re not going to have any time to actually enjoy the fact that they’re at your home, so do yourself the favour and get as many menu items prepared in advance. My mom’s caesar salad recipe is to die for, but we aren’t attempting to whip up from-scratch dressing right before guests grab their plates. By making it the night before we have one less step on game day.

Tip #3: Know How Much Food To Make

Ok so this one is just a general guideline because as we all know different people eat different amounts of food but generally speaking most people won’t eat more than a pound of food in a meal. When it comes to a breakdown, here’s a good general rule.

Meat: 6oz

Rice & Grains: 1.5 as a side dish, 2oz in a main such as risotto

Potatoes: 5oz

Vegetables: 4oz

Beans: 2oz as a side dish

Pasta: 2oz for a side dish, 3oz for a first course, 4oz for a main dish

Green Salad: 1oz undressed weight

Figures from The Spruce

Tip #4: Give Guests Something To Graze on Before Dinner

This is likely my most valued tip of them all. Give guests something to snack on when they arrive — My favourite? A charcuterie board filled with cured meats, cheeses, and other local treats. That way if dinner is a little behind schedule (it happens), then guests aren’t waiting around with grumbling tummies. Bonus is that it gets people moving and gives them something to break the ice over. If you need some help building a charcuterie board that's sure to wow your guests, check out this festive charcuterie board for some tips and inspiration.

Tip #5: Ask for Help

Say it with me… Delegate! Not saying you need to ask someone to step in and chef the meal but if people are asking if they can help with anything, take it. Even something as simple as asking a family member to grab the door or seeing if a friend will top up people’s wine glasses. In our house I always invite my mother-in-law to make the gravy. It helps her feel included and shows that I value her cooking skills and she takes the role very seriously — Arriving each year with her apron in her purse so I can tag her in when it’s time.

Tip #6: Use the Nice Stuff

If you have nice china or a beautiful serving dish please use it. There’s no point in letting these things sit and collect dust. Sure you might lose something to breakage but at least it was getting used building memories.

Tip #7: Don’t Forget the Designated Driver

Signature cocktails and beautiful bottles of local wine are a crowd pleaser but don’t forget some special non-alcoholic drinks to show appreciation for those who are making sure people get home safely. Also be sure to have cab and designated driving service phone numbers handy if needed and remember wait times during the holidays are longer.

Tip #8: Have Fun

Not everything will go as planned, at least it never does around here, but that’s half the fun. We’re always ready to squeeze in an extra place setting if needed, or pivot when necessary. Take it from me, I regularly serve 80 plus guest, many of whom I’ve never met, all of whom have paid for a ticket to dine at our farm, the more relaxed and laid back you are the more your guests will enjoy themselves. So turn on some music, put on a smile, and grab a glass of wine — You’ve got this!

Kendall ~ Boss Chick at Central Park Farms

Kendall Ballantine