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5 Holiday party timing tips every experienced host knows

Now that the holidays are upon us, everybody is starting to schedule parties, get together, and events. After all, the holidays give us an excuse spend time with friends and loved ones. Are you new to the entertaining scene? Never hosted a party before but want to have people over for dinner?

Timing is everything! Keep these 5 party planning tips in mind as you create your wonderful dinner gathering:

1. What to have ready vs. what can be in progress when guests arrive:

The things you want to have ready before your guests arrive:

  • Candles (or other lighting) & decor.
  • Drinks.
  • Clean dishes.
  • Initial appetizers.

Make something, like a Marie Callender’s Pot Pie, and break it into smaller appetizer sized portions. It’s so much easier than cooking/prepping several single-serve recipes. Comfort food always wins, especially during the holidays. Serve a full sized pot pie in appetizer sized cups and your guests will happily and eagerly dig right in!

Pot Pies
Image: Kelly Dixon/SheKnows

You don’t have to have everything ready when the first guest walks in the door. There are some things you can have in progress so that people can mingle and start up conversations as they arrive.

Don’t worry about having these few things done and ready to serve right when the party starts:

  • The main course
  • Salad
  • Dessert

2. Ambiance

The main course will be cooking when then guests arrive. So, pick food that smells good! People love the smell of food they are familiar with. It makes guests excited and puts them in a relaxed mood. Additionally, have candles, lighting, and decor compliment the ambiance. Pick out clothing that matches the energy you are aiming for.

3. Avoid fussy food, appetizers, or drinks

When it comes to holiday dinner parties, people enjoy good food and good company. Don’t worry about making things that look too perfect. Your guests don’t want you stuck in the kitchen the entire time! Pick out easy options, get creative with how it is served, and enjoy your time with your guests as much as possible. Not everything needs to be made from scratch. Pretty trays, plates, and glasses add an entertaining flare to easy-to-cook meals.

4. Expect some unexpected things

Go with the flow as a host. It’s ok if a guests suddenly cancels, if some food falls on the floor, or if your timing doesn’t work out perfectly. Unexpected things are bound to happen, so stay positive and stay focused on a wholesome happy gathering. Sometimes the unexpected events make for the most memorable and funniest stories.

5. Keep the clean-up simple

Have napkins, utensils and trash cans easily available for guests as they are eating appetizers. Once the main course is over, spend that time enjoying everyone’s company. Rushing to the kitchen to clean dishes will make your guests feel like they need to help out and it puts an abrupt ending to an easy going evening. Chances are, you’ll be pretty tired by the end of the evening. Prewash the necessary items in the kitchen when your guests leave, and worry about the details the next day.

This post is part of a collaboration between SheKnows and Marie Callender’s Pot Pies

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