How to Throw a Holiday Dinner Party without losing your mind

How to Throw a Holiday Dinner Party without losing your mind

Does just reading this headline give you stress? I’m sorry. I know you’ve teachers’ gifts to come up with, at least one holiday concert to attend (why must they start at freaking 4:30 pm?!) if not more, a home to decorate, and God knows what else. But you’re probably also having people over as well. And we promise, you can do it without losing your last shred of sanity. You can actually enjoy it. Promise. Just create a plan that allows almost everything to be done in advance and your friends and family will be so impressed. Not by how fancy the dinner was but by how chill you were. Okay, ready? You can do this! 

1. Send out some lovely e-vites. It takes a few minutes and it makes the night seem a bit more special than a regular email. There are lots of great ones out there but we love, love, love Paperless Post. They work with great designers (and my celebrity best friend Gwyneth Paltrow) and you can easily manage rsvp’s online.

2. Pick an easy playlist that you don’t have to touch all night. The last thing you want to be doing is goofing around with your phone all night trying to find music as the night plays out. I’m addicted to Songza and their 60s Holiday playlist is full of tunes that you’re not hearing every time you step into a store. But whatever you choose, have it playing 15 minutes before you expect anyone to show up so you’re fiddling with it as they walk in.


3. Check your cupboards for all the serving platters, cutlery, napkins, etc, at least a week before your dinner and see that everything is in decent shape. I have just realized that our wine glasses are in an appalling state. Not that I feel everything has to match perfectly – in fact, it’s kind of nice if it doesn’t – but I don’t think I’ve got 6 left! Time to fix that little problem. I’m loving these sets of Riedel glasses from Red Envelope. Nice, right? I found these along with a lot of other gift goodness here.



photo by Maya Visnyei

4. Have some nibblies ready to go when your guests walk in the door. We’re crazy about these Pears with Goat Cheese and Cranberies . They’re easy enough to make that you can delegate it to the kids (okay, maybe you slice the pears). They’re really yummy and not too heavy before a big meal. And if you really want to start things right, why not bubbles? You don’t have to splurge on champagne – cava or sparkling feel just as festive. And don’t you love this monogrammed ice bucket from Red Envelope?


5. Start with soup! Or something that doesn’t require any of your attention. Do something easy and seasonal like this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and you’ll be so glad you don’t have to do anything more than grab a ladle when it’s time to call everyone to the table.



photo by Maya Visnyei

6. Create a menu that doesn’t demand babysitting. We love roasts because they fill your home with wonderful aromas and you can basically leave them be. Just be sure to build in time to let the meat rest once it comes out of the oven – it really does make a difference. This Roasted Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes and Apples is so simple and elegant and if you just add a green salad, you’re done!



photo by Maya Visnyei

7. Keep desert simple. People can feel slightly over-stuffed this month so why not mini-size dessert with something like these Mini Brownie Bites. They’re still decadent but won’t have people falling asleep at the table. You did it! Now, someone else has to wash the dishes…

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