What’s that in the air? Oh, you know, just the scent of festive feasts and the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with the holiday spirit. So what better time to sit down to a dinner (party) conversation with two of our friends who also happen to be complete hosting pros? At this gorgeous Airbnb loft on Park Avenue, we got some clever, most creative tips from etiquette expert Lizzie Post celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn. The focus is on making any holiday gathering feel personal, crafty, and (best of all) easy to pull off.
Here are just a few of their suggestions:
1) Start planning early.
“Not only do calendars fill up quickly, but with the extra hustle and bustle of the season, it’s easy to let details slide. So, give yourself a couple extra weeks when planning a holiday gathering.”
2) Add modern touches.
“Planning a party can be exhausting. Utilize some of the new companies to help out with errands and the usual to-do’s. Task Rabbit is great for the errands you just can’t get to yourself. Have your friends collaborate on a playlist during the party with Spotify. Suggest a car-sharing service for guests to get to and from the party without having to worry about hailing a cab and being late.”
3) Use any form of invitation for a holiday party….
“…But if you are throwing a more traditional party, sending out mailed invitations is a fun way to add a bit of festive cheer to your guests’ mailbox. As digital options continue to lead the way, companies like Paperless Post are great as well (and completely acceptable) for adding that holiday feeling to your guests’ digital mailbox. No matter how you invite your guests, always be sure to let them know the 4 Ws: Who, What, When, and Where so they know what to expect. And don’t forget to ask for an RSVP!”
4) The feeling of home without using your own.
“If you live in a small house or apartment and don’t have room to host (or simply find it daunting to think about preparing your house), it’s easy and perfectly appropriate, to rent an Airbnb place to host your party without lacking that cozy holiday feel. Add your own touches—family photos, flowers, decor—and your guests will feel even more at home. And while it’s not a must, if you really enjoyed the Airbnb listing, leaving a thank you note or small gift for the host is always a nice gesture!”
5) Don’t be thrown by extra guests.
“If your guests bring extra guests, just smile and welcome them in! While it was less than polite of your guest to do this, you want to be a gracious host and chances are the extra guests feel a bit odd about crashing. Try to re-portion the food so that everyone can have some and, if need be, task your co-host, family member, or a close friend with setting a few extra places at the table. If you’re worried about not having enough food employ ‘FHB’ or Family Hold Back.”
6) Bring it all under one roof.
“Lots of families meet up in some of the world’s best cities for the holidays, but staying at a hotel can get expensive and sometimes lacks that ‘homey’ feel. By renting an Airbnb apartment or house, your family can have all the amenities and space of being at home, plus the cozy atmosphere.
1) Put down butcher paper as your tablecloth.
“Encourage friends and family to doodle while they enjoy their holiday meal. I have two young nieces, and they really enjoy a little activity during more formal meals. I will happily admit that sometimes their drawing skills are better than mine.”
2) Have seasonal garnishes handy.
“Whether it’s cranberries or rosemary, guests can add them into their festive cocktails and it takes things up a few notches.”
3) 2015 is the year of the glaze craze.
“I’ll prep my standard roasted turkey and ham without fussing over them too much. But I’m also doing a second version of each that are both getting glazed up real nice. For the turkey, I’d recommend an apple rosemary glaze or mustard glaze or even a pepper jelly glaze. On a ham, I’d recommend trying a blackberry glaze or a peach glaze.”
4) Hire a cleaning crew.
“An extra set of hands allows me to make a mess, but enjoy my company to the fullest. Nobody wants a host who is on kitchen clean up duty the whole time, especially at the end of a festive dinner when the party really gets going.”
5) Explore another cuisine’s take on classic holiday dishes.
“This allows for a fresh approach on what can feel like a repetitive traditional meal. Ethnic cuisines are constantly on the rise, particularly in the restaurant scene and on grocery shelves. Traditions are of course the best, and I can tell you it’s hard to stray from what your family members expect to eat at the holidays. But invite your pals over for a Thanksgiving leftovers meal. This gives you a chance to prepare a version of the traditional feast inspired by another culture where you and your guests get to learn through food.”
6) Insert a new tradition into your routine and stick to it.
“Step it up, switch it up. Organize a pie or wine party where your friends and family each bring a different pie or bottle of wine as takeaway gifts. Invite new people to join your get together, get outdoors and go for a hike, play a game of touch football in your backyard or local park, and look out for opportunities to help folks that aren’t as fortunate by volunteering or donating food.”
Happy hosting to you and yours!