Here we are. The holiday season is staring us right in the face. And I’m willing to bet there’s at least one dinner party or festive event you’ve somehow found yourself hosting. This is such a hectic time of year, and any tips that get us prepared and ahead of the game are worth their weight in gold.
I’m going to give you a peek into my party planning magic and share my must have items for hosting any occasion. These essentials will take you from casual potlucks, family gatherings and cocktail parties, all the way to a formal holiday dinner. In my family I’ve hosted and prepared Thanksgiving eight times, so I’ve learned a lot about which items will get the most use instead of collecting dust in the back of my cabinets.
- White Platters – This is the “Little Black Dress” of entertaining. Appetizers, large salads, main entrees, desserts, just about everything looks more elegant when arranged on a large white platter. Go ahead and buy everything pre-made and simply arrange it on a big white platter. Instant class! Plus, if your platter is really big it can do double duty as a bar tray, organizing bottles, glasses and garnishes.
- Stemless Glassware – These are so much more versatile then traditional stemware. You’re definitely gonna get your money’s worth out of these babies! Mixed drinks, small salads, shrimp cocktail, dips, individual desserts and more instantly become chic when served in these glasses. Bonus: they are more convenient to clean and store compared to stemware. Oh yeah, and you can drink wine out them, too.
- Cake Stands – Don’t limit yourself to only displaying cakes and cupcakes. Adding a cake stand brings height to your table or buffet. A cake stand makes a great fruit and cheese plate or a fancy way to display condiments. It also does double duty as a decor piece. During the holidays I love to use mine to feature a small winter village scene.
- Large Wood Cutting Board – Cutting boards are not merely for cutting. A beautiful piece of wood adds a natural texture to your tablescape that is perfect for this time of year. Arranging appetizers, a sandwich selection or crudités on a large wood board creates a warm, rustic display. If the board is big enough, it can be a tray to hold an after dinner coffee and drinks station.
- Cloth Napkins – A “real” napkin shows that you’re a considerate hostess. They elevate any meal or occasion and subtly shows guests you’re treating their visit as a special occasion. These are a simple way to add color and pattern to a table without having to purchase or organize tons of tablecloths or different dishware patterns. After you’ve selected nice napkins, channel your inner Martha Stewart and learn how to do a fancy napkin fold.
- Hurricane Vase – Does your table need a centerpiece? If you own a hurricane vase, you already have one! There are endless possibilities for what you can fill a glass container with. I used a pair of these at my wedding filled with rose petals that guests tossed as we left our reception. Anything seasonal is perfectly highlighted in a hurricane; mini pumpkins, Christmas ornaments, pine cones, wine corks, seashells, or simple floral and greenery arrangements. Once the party’s over, move it to your mantle and enjoy it all season long.
- Serving Silverware – You NEVER have as much of this as you think. Nothing’s worse than preparing a big meal for a crowd and using rinky dink spoons (or worse, ugly plastic nonsense) to serve your food. Serving spoons and forks, cheese knives, spreaders, a salad set, a cake slicer – all of these will “serve” you well time and time again. Yeah, I said it. Moving along…
- Glass Trifle Dish – This is a beautiful piece for serving layered salads and desserts. Look for a clear glass style that will show off food’s color and texture on your buffet. A trifle dish can even be repurposed as a punchbowl in a pinch!
- A Signature Item – Have a special recipe you can make with your eyes closed? Own heirloom china from Grandma? Do you make killer playlists? Take some time to figure out what you look forward to when being a hostess and embrace it. Entertaining should be fun for you, too. Your unique touch will make an impression on your guests and they’ll look forward to it each time they receive your invitation.
I hope my list prepares you for the holiday season and beyond. I personally own every item on this list and am still amazed at how often I use them. Each of these items is like a classic wardrobe item; you can mix and match them with pieces you already own. They’ll be in heavy rotation during the holidays, but I bet you’ll find yourself reaching for them time and time again the rest of the year. No matter how you celebrate this season, these staples are will help you become the confident hostess you’ve always wanted to be!
Overwhelmed at the thought of planning your own holiday party? Don’t stress! Click here to download your free copy of my Holiday Party Planning Cheat Sheet.
Images via pinterest.