Hosting the Holidays: Making Lists and Checking Them Twice

For the next week, I am going to share tips for entertaining crowds during the holidays. As a twentysomething who works full time, entertaining can be a daunting task, particuarly because I have a small house and am a perfectionist, thanks to studying Martha Stewart Living for the last fifteen years.

I hope I can bestow some advice for both type-A personalities like myself and those who aren’t so anal retentive so all hostesses and hosts can have an enjoyable, and nearly perfect, holiday celebration!

Make Lists to Keep You Organized When Hosting Family and Friends

I am conducting my third large holiday gathering as an adult. Prior to this Thanksgiving, I hosted my family for a week during Christmas four years ago and last year’s Thanksgiving dinner, though I didn’t have the large number of out-of-town guests.

While I don’t claim to be an expert at hosting holidays, I do enjoy entertaining and think that, in the past, my guests have enjoyed themselves. I credit my list-making abilities with past hosting successes and recommend that hosts and hostesses get into this habit. Lists help one consider the many elements of entertaining. After all, it’s not just a grocery list that one needs to write. I recommend creating the following lists when entertaining family and friends from out of town over the holidays:

  • An itinerary that details the visit. Use this list to document arrivals and departures, activities for each day of the visit, and meals to be prepared. Send this list out to guests a few weeks prior to their arrival. That way, everyone has a chance to chime in on what they would like to do and plans can be modified to meet specific needs.
  • A to-do list specifically for the hosts. Make this list a week or two before the visit that considers all of the errands and tasks that need to be completed before guests arrive. Need to run to Home Goods to find a new table cloth? Realized that you don’t have serving spoons for the buffet? Observed that you haven’t dusted the house for six months? This list will help you organize all tasks that need to take place prior to guests arriving. Include items like “find recipes for dinner,” “wash guest room sheets,” and “make grocery list” on this big-picture list. As you cross items off, you’ll feel better about the approaching event.
  • A grocery list. Finally, the most obvious list. When writing this one up, include measurements for each item on your list. Multiple recipes may call for the same item, so make sure you buy enough butter for pies, mashed potatoes, and the stuffing. Also, create separate lists for specialty stores you may be visiting, such as the wine store, the cheese shop, or the bakery.

List making is the first step to hosting during the holidays. If you find yourself feeling stressed, you have lists to review that will walk you though the steps involved in managing a flock of family and friends. Plus, if you keep the lists from year to year, you can refer back to them and not have to reinvent the wheel.

Happy hosting!


1 thought on “Hosting the Holidays: Making Lists and Checking Them Twice”

  1. Wow you are really prepared! I envy you having the family dinner. I’m not even sure what we will be doing, Danielle and Hamid are up in the air, plus have Danielle’s Moms house option – We may only be 4 for dinner (Hiro and Hisako)
    Wish I could be in Philly.
    Love you

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