By Lana Bingham
The big day is one week away! In addition to last minute shopping trips and a great deal of gift wrapping, planning to host a holiday get together can seem overwhelming. Whether your event is for co-workers, clients, neighbors or family members, following these “C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S” tips will allow you to plan and execute an amazing, and stress-free holiday party.
C is for Cleaning. No need to go into full-deep clean mode, but “spot-cleaning” is necessary for areas that you will be entertaining your guests. Kitchen counters, floors, guest baths, and living and dining areas are most important. Also, be sure to clean and organize your fridge so that you have room for holiday goodies, menu ingredients, and lots of leftovers. However, if you have just moved into a new Tampa custom home, guests are going to want a full tour. Take advice from a Tampa new home builder and hire a cleaner if you don’t have the time.
H is for Holding Area. Designate an area for guests to leave their coats, keys and accessories so that they are not creating an eyesore and cluttering up walkways. New home builders Tampa recommend a mudroom, which will keep everything organized and out of the way. Yet a spare bedroom or large front hall closet will also do the trick.
R is for Re-Arranging. Figure out seating arrangements ahead of time. You may need to re-arrange the living room or bring in extra chairs for the dining table. Seating cards will help with traffic flow and eliminate any “magical chairs” behavior. They require little time to make, and also offer a place to print your holiday menu so that your guests can be informed of each course.
I is for Invites and Inventory. By now you should have a revised guest list, with an accurate count of attendees. Based on this number, take inventory of cutlery, glasses, plates, serving dishes and utensils that will be needed. Make sure there is plenty of everything to go around for cocktail hour, dinner and dessert. To be on the safe side, plan extra for a few last minute party stragglers.
S is for Stocking-Up. Make a master list of all needed beverage essentials (mixers, fruits, stirring sticks, etc.) so you aren’t racing back to the store minutes before guests arrive. Allow your guests to serve themselves and transform your island or butler pantry into a mini bar or cocktail station, or a portable serving station can also work. Be sure to have a sufficient supply of coasters, cocktail napkins, ice and liquor. If you expect that children will be attending, creating a hot cocoa bar.
T is for Trimmings. No need to transform your home into The North Pole, but it’s important to make sure your guests leave feeling full and festively satisfied. Spruce up your mantel, built-ins or stair landing with greenery and holiday figurines; use holiday scented soap and candles in guest bathrooms; and decorate your dining table with a festive centerpiece. If you have guests staying overnight, swap out regular linens and pillows for a more “Merry” color palette.
M is for Menu. Your menu doesn’t need to be overwhelmingly complicated to be impressive. Stick to holiday favorites that only call for a few ingredients. Offer Caprese Bite appetizers (white mozzarella balls, red cherry tomatoes, green basil leaves and a drizzle of balsamic reduction). For a delicious meal, try a winter salad with gorgonzola, walnuts and dried cranberries; a garlic and herb rubbed beef tenderloin with horseradish aioli; mashed potatoes with garlic and rosemary; and carrots with a balsamic honey glaze.
A is for Atmosphere. In addition to your festive décor, pay attention to mood lighting and aroma. Dim your lights in the living and dining areas and light candles for a soft glow. If you have a fireplace, keep it lit for the entire party. Buy fresh flowers and accompany them with the smell of something sweet baking in the kitchen. These last minute touches will create the perfect ambiance for your party.
S is for sit back, relax and enjoy. This is your party after all, and it is going to be a hit!
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