Having the opportunity to gather with loved ones can be the perfect chance to celebrate what you’re truly grateful for. Whether you’re hosting a small to large gathering or if you’re going to be a guest at a holiday party, here are five tips for Extraordinary entertaining during the holidays.
1. SET THE TABLE & CREATE A THEME
Developing a theme creates the mood and atmosphere of your party. Will your party be mostly standing, in which gorgeous platters of fresh fruits and vegetables, or artisan cheese can be shared and enjoyed? Or will your party guests be seated at a table and served in courses? The first step is to decide how your party will function, as this will set the table to conceptualizing how your party will flow.
Regardless of the guest count or theme, it’s ideal to have something readily available the moment our guests arrive. I love to create the initial “wow” factor that lets our guests know that they are in the right place. This includes an interesting wine, bubbly, or mixed drink selection, as well as non-alcoholic options like sparkling lemonade or pitchers of water infused with mint or cucumber. A fabulous cheese board is also inviting.
2. PLAN THE MENU
For holiday planning, it’s always best to streamline your shopping time so you aren’t overwhelming your schedule. I recommend making a list and breaking down your purchases for food and décor in 2-3 total stops.
For food, I serve the highest quality produce at home and in my restaurants. I love shopping at Specialty Produce in San Diego, which offers a variety of locally grown, sustainable, and organic produce. Whatever city you live in, do some research on where your favorite restaurants get their produce from and see if they offer options for non-wholesale clients to shop. Or, if you’re short on time, just visit your favorite grocery market.
For décor, I’m always about fresh cut flowers and greenery. Whether you have the opportunity and time to make your own arrangements or you want to rely on professionals. Depending on my time and budget, I will go to Wholesale Flowers, where they also have an array of vases and other seasonal items to decorate your table, or if I’m going big, then I’ll call Carlos at Green Fresh Florals in Hillcrest for arrangements. Having options for flowers is vital to my entertaining style. You will find yours.
My family always relies on me for dessert every year, and having something spectacular and sweet to round off the night is an easy way to create fantastic memories. At Extraordinary Desserts, we’re known for offering show-stopping cakes, and many of our clientele come to us to help with their parties every year. Whether you’re ordering one of our signature holiday cakes, or a classic, like our juicy Blood Orange Ricotta, ordering a cake saves a lot of time and makes a lasting impression.
3. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Have a guest arrive at your event with an unexpected plus one, or with something they’ll need to use your kitchen to prepare? Anticipate it—but remember that there are ways to make your party planning go smoothly should something come out of the blue.
While I love to ask my guests if there are any dietary restrictions before hosting an event, I always keep a back-up of something Vegan, nut-free, gluten-free, and allergen friendly in my refrigerator just in case. Having something for Vegan or gluten-free-people is thoughtful and since I choose to eat that way myself, it’s a special touch that always goes noticed.
However—if you don’t have the refrigerator space or time to have a backup– a go-to that never fails is utilizing delivery services such as Postmates to help with getting any last minute dishes. It’s a quick way to get a last minute order into your party so that everyone has something to snack on.
If you need last-minute gifts for someone, who you did not expect to see, then having an array of gift cards that are flexible for most guests, will keep your mind at ease.
4. BE A THOUGHTFUL GUEST
Being the host of the party is a lot of responsibility, but the same can be said about being a guest. RSVP on-time, so your host can count on you to be there. It’s always in good taste to bring a gift, but not something that will require your host to do any extra work on their behalf. Host gifts are always best when they’re pre-packaged and can be enjoyed either at the party or once all the guests have left. Some of my favorites include sweet snacks like caramel corn and chocolate bars, or even a scented candle.
5. PRACTICE WELLNESS AND SELF-CARE
Throwing any size of get together can be stressful. After the guests have left and the dishes are done, you simply have to carve out a little time for yourself to unwind that night and especially the next day. Make a plan, in advance, to exercise, take a yoga class, or get a massage the day after your party. You earned it.
I hope these tips leave you ready to take on whatever the holidays have in store for you and your family. It’s a time to give thanks and share love and joy with others.