I think it’s safe to say that the thought of hosting a few dozen people could send most people into a full-on anxiety attack. For me though, I grew up with my mom and nana hosting almost every party you could think of – and I am well aware of the work that goes into it. That being said, since I’ve picked up the hosting duties the last few years, I’ve come up with some definitive do’s and don’ts to get though the season while truly enjoying it:
Don’t worry about the guest list. Some families have concrete plans each year, others flip flop between in-laws, and still others play it by ear. I have found that it’s easiest to make my house an open house. Anyone and everyone who wants to come, or doesn’t have plans is more than welcome – and at any time. Some years we have 25 people, other years we have more than 50!
Do keep the menu simple. I lucked out on this one – since we have always served menudo (cooked the day of) and tamales (assembled and frozen weeks before, then cooked the day of) as our main courses. I have the cooking times down to a science, and it’s minimal work on my part. Everyone brings an appetizer or dessert, and we chow down through the night – both main dishes keep well over the stove all night long. If you don’t have the luxury of a staple menu, just try to keep it simple enough that you won’t be spending all day in the kitchen.
Don’t go crazy cleaning. Confession time: I rarely mop before a party. I don’t even bother because so many people will be shuffling in and out, and the lights will be dim (to focus on the tree of course). I save all of my deep cleaning for the days after. This took me years to learn – but is a total game changer.
Do pick something fun for everyone to do. This is where my family and I get creative each year. We usually do a white elephant gift exchange – with the rules changing some years (which can sometimes get rowdy, and so fun). We’ve had a gingerbread house station. We’ve done a Christmas jammies party as well as crazy hat party. And we’ve even incorporated some fun games and prizes. I always list what we are going to do in the invite, and state a time – so that anyone that wants to participate can make sure they are there.
Don’t say no to help. If your aunt wants to wash the first round of dishes? Say yes. If your cousin wants to take out the trash for you – just point out the trash can and say thank you! Little things add up, and you will find yourself thankful for anything that got cleaned up! I know when I’m a guest, if I can roll up my sleeves for a few minutes, I usually feel much better about the whole evening!
Do enjoy the party. Sure, you need to keep the food and drinks flowing and make sure the toilet paper is stocked, but everything else can probably wait until the morning. Sometimes the holidays are the only times I see certain family members, so I like to sit down and truly enjoy the company.
I’m all for pinterest-worthy party details, but December is so hectic in general, that I prefer to keep everything simple. I love the holidays, and I don’t ever want to feel worn out, or overwhelmed! If you have any other hosting tips, please feel free to leave them below!