There are some girls who make it all seem so effortless. You know, the ones who log a 60-hour work week, look like supermodels and can cook for a crowd without batting a lash? I worship at the 4-inch stilettos of these women. And so, as we head into the hullabaloo that are the Christmas and New Years holidays, I checked in with three haute hostesses for their top three secrets for holiday entertaining. And, as always, I learned a new trick. My fave might be from my friend Tanya, who builds in time for a quick escape before her guests arrive. And check out how my cooking club amigas Sally and and Lulu set the scene. Read on!
Tanya Steel, award-winning Editor-in-Chief, Epicurious.com and co-author of Real Food for Healthy Kids
Because I end up cooking almost the entire meal for every holiday, there are a few ways I ensure I will not be a crazed, exhausted, stressed-out person the day of—well, only somewhat crazed, exhausted, and stressed:
I prep every single possible part of every recipe the day before.
I force, I mean, ask my children to set the table the night before.
I get up early the day of the meal, finish prepping and cooking, and then go for a walk, by myself, so I can get 45-minutes of me time.
Lulu Powers, celebrity caterer and author of Lulu Powers Food to Flowers
Cocktail Ornaments: Store cranberries in the freezer to adorn cocktails with. These frozen delights will give any gathering the holiday spirit.
Festive Details: Details as small as festive cocktail napkins can make a big impact, so be prepared for any occasion by keeping a few readily available.
Jack-of-all-Toppings: Always have a bag of Sargento Artisan Blends shredded Parmesan on hand. It is perfect on soup, pasta, salad, chicken and so much more.
Sally Horchow, Lifestyle and Trend Expert and co-author of The Art of Friendship
Be smelly! We often focus so much on festive looking & tasting decor, cocktails, and nibbles, but the olfactory sense can make the most impact. Brew some mulling spices on the stove, decorate with fragrant paperwhites, pick one candle scent to burn in bathrooms and corner tables, or bake some gingerbread cookies just before showtime.
Prep for your conversations. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by hosting and end up disappointed that you didn’t get a chance to truly connect with anyone. Looking at your guest list in advance and preparing a few things you’d like to learn and/or say can help you cut to the chase and be a more thoughtful host.
Mix stationary and passed hors d’oeuvres. It’s easy for you and fun for your guests to have a central place to gather round to eat, but giving yourself at least one hors d’oeuvre to pass gives you the perfect excuse to weave your way through the party and interact with every guest.
And what’s The Foodinista’s top trick? When in doubt, serve more wine—and then a little bit more.