This time of the year often provides many opportunities to host family and friends for the holidays, and it can be overwhelming if you're not prepared. When it comes to entertaining, here's my five tried and true tips that will help you prepare for and actually enjoy the season's many celebrations.
1. Create a gift closet/stash.
You never know when you're going to need that last minute gift for an unexpected guest, late invitation, or surprise event. I like to keep a couple of things on hand like a set of nice notecards, candles, and even a few Starbucks gift cards. No matter what pops up on your calendar or who arrives at your family gathering (Oh hi, Aunt Martha...nice to see you again!), you'll be prepared with gift in hand!
2. Pick up fresh flowers for the home.
Never underestimate the power of a vase of fresh blooms to spruce up your home! Even if it's a last minute get-together, keeping some flowers on your table is a great way to brighten up the room and provides an 'I was expecting you' kind of vibe for your guests! There's no need to heavily invest into a super expensive arrangement every week. Instead, swing by your local grocery store or even Trader Joe's to pick up a beautiful bunch at a great price.
3. Light a candle.
I love candles. There's something so cozy about a big three-wick candle flickering and creating a delightful and festive scent to the home. Guests on the way? I usually will light them about 15-20 min ahead of time to allow the smell to fill the house without being too strong.
4. Know when to make and when to buy.
This is a busy time for all of us, and sometimes there's just not enough time to invest an entire day in the kitchen preparing food. One of my go-to's is a gourmet market in town that makes some of the best soups, quiches, and treats. If I'm pressed for time, I'll swing by to pick up a side dish or two, throw together a big toss salad with seasonal fruits and veggies, and pick up a few desserts that can be served in addition to whatever gelato flavors are in the freezer. If you have a favorite recipe that you can whip together in record time, do that and pick up the rest. As long as it's served beautifully, no one will know the difference. It will be our little secret ;)
5. Enjoy the moment.
Amidst the hustle and bustle, the hunt for the perfect gifts for family and friends, and the many parties that this season brings, don't forget to enjoy the celebration! One of my favorite things to do around this time of year is to take a moment and reflect on the reason we celebrate this season, and many things I'm grateful for. It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind or even the stress of the season, but when you're with friends and family, be present. Don't worry if the food is perfect or if so-and-so loves your gift, just enjoy the laughter, listen to the stories, and experience the beauty and joy that comes from being together.