holiday hosting essentials

Stress-Free Holiday Hosting Must-Haves

holiday hosting essentials

Hosting a holiday get-together is a lot of work.

From the prep work and setup to entertaining your guests and cleaning up afterward, holiday hosting can sometimes seem more like work than fun.

But by simplifying your decor and being smart with your food and entertainment choices, you can actually be that fun and engaged hostess you see on TV sitcoms.

Before you finalize your plans for your next soiree, make sure you have these five things in check to ensure a perfect party that you can actually sit back and enjoy. I’ve also included all the essentials (some contain affiliate links) you’ll need to get the ball rolling.

1. A Stocked Bar Cart

Bar Carts are the party heroes. They make self-serving easy for guests and save you from having to play bartender. Sure, you could just put all your bar essentials on the counter, but that takes up precious prep space and causes traffic jams in the kitchen.

I love using bar carts for parties because they can be moved around wherever I want. If my guests will be spending most of their time in the living room, I can just roll it in there without having to move all the bottles and glasses and risk dropping them. If the party moves out to the deck, the bar cart can go with us.

I made my cart out of a gross old piece of almost-garbage, and turned it into my party hosting bff, but you can totally just buy one for under $100. It’s money well-spent, I promise.

Bar Cart Essentials

Image Source: Better Homes And Gardens

2. A Decked Out Dinner Table

There’s a magical effect when you really deck out your table for a party.

You could have nine projects going on in your house, a half-finished backsplash, a cobweb in the corner of the ceiling, and no other seasonal or party decorations anywhere else. Your guest won’t even notice. Crazy, right?

A gorgeously styled table is like a fuzzy puppy. No matter what else is going on or who else is around, everyone will focus on it the whole evening. To build an eye catching table, think layers and texture. You want to have multiple fabrics and materials, multiple metals and woods, fresh greenery, and a little bit of height. Build your table the same way you would build a floral bouquet; the anchors, the show-stoppers, and the fillers.

Tablewear Essentials

3. Cozy Accents

You don’t have to get crazy with a carload of holiday-themed decor.

By adding some cozy accents to you home in strategically chosen places, your house will look effortlessly decorated. I like to add in green plants in baskets, deliciously warm scented candles, throw blankets and pillows in baskets and bins, and dim the lights a little for some drama. You can even drape some string lights on large furniture like bookshelves and upper kitchen cabinets for extra softness.

By taking this minimalist approach, you avoid the decor looking cluttered and the dreaded “tried too hard” vibe.

Cozy Home Accent Essentials

Image Source: HGTV Contributor H. Camille Smith

4. A Serve-Yourself Appetizer

The last thing you want to do is play Waitress all night, so whether you’re serving a sit down meal or not, a self-serve appetizer is a must.

Guests really like appetizers, and in all honesty, they kind of expect them. I like a classic charcuterie board filled with good quality deli meats, a variety of cheese wedges, fresh seasonal fruits, multigrain crackers, and deep woody nuts. There’s something for everyone and even kids love the combo.

The biggest rule to follow with your appetizer, whatever it may be, is to put it in the party room, not the kitchen. You’ll likely be finishing up meal-prep and having everyone gathered around is going to stress you out to the max. I like putting my appetizers on trays for easy portability and cleanup, and they usually go right on my coffee table.

Appetizer Serving Essentials

5. A Grab And Go Cleaning Caddy

Messes happen. There’s nothing you can do about it. With that many people in that small of a space, you’re going to have at least one accident, guaranteed.

When someone spills red wine on your rug or drops a plate of food on your freshly cleaned hardwood floors, your stress level is going to shoot up and you’ll instantly get a little scatterbrained, sending you all over the house trying to gather up what you need to clean it up.

Save yourself the scurry (and look cool as a cucumber in front of your guests) with a pre-prepped caddy stocked with everything you need for common party accidents. Fill it with paper towels and microfiber cloths, carpet cleaner, a stain stick for clothing, disinfectant wipes, and a mini broom brush and dust pan. It’s also a good idea to keep a Shop Vac nearby and easy to get to, in case of broken glass. And be sure to provide coasters made of rubber or cork instead of glass and ceramic. Drinks are less likely to get knocked over on a grippier material.

Quick Cleanup Essentials

Plan Ahead

Want to plan the perfect holiday party?

Grab the Printable Holiday Planner Kit from my Etsy shop for only $10.50. It has November and December calendars, Black Friday shopping and gift-giving lists, party planning sheets, wrapping paper and greeting card lists, and even a tradition tracker for next year. I use this planner for Thanksgiving and Christmas every single year, and it keeps me from stress-eating all the turkey and Santa’s cookies while no one is looking. (Sorry, Santa!)

Want More?

Check out these oldies but goodies for more holiday hosting ideas.

And be sure to subscribe for email updates, because I’ve got lots more holiday ideas coming soon that you’re going to love!

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