By Rebecca Fending
And just like that, 2021 is nearly over. Some of us may be rejoicing, and others may just be in awe that another year has flown by. However, December is one of my favorite months regardless of its year-ending significance because of the holidays.
In my family, Christmastime and end-of-year holidays have always been a major focus. Each year, we made Christmas Eve our family celebration with a roast, my grandma’s garlicky kale and, my favorite, my dad’s fried oysters. I distinctly remember despising both the kale and oysters as a kid, but now? They’re possibly my favorite parts of the meal.
After dinner, we talk about anything and everything, which was agonizing as a kid, before exchanging gifts between my immediate family and grandparents. After the gift exchange comes a holiday movie classic: either “The Polar Express” or “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” It’s usually a coin flip between the two. Then, off to bed to await the arrival of Christmas Day.
In watching my mom prepare our house for guests each year, there are a few holiday hosting tips and tricks that I’ve picked up. Although they aren’t groundbreaking, they do help make the holiday festivities run just a bit smoother:
Holiday Hosting Tips
- Keep the kitchen decluttered: If you’re hosting a holiday meal or large meal of any kind, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get clutter off of your counters. This includes large storage jars, vitamin bottles, coffeemakers, decorative knick-knacks, anything that takes up counter space. If need be, purchase an organization rack that you can keep in the corner of your kitchen. Trust me, this makes all the difference.
- Organize closets: The coat closet tends to go unchecked the rest of the year, so it likely needs a little clean-up. This way you can hang guest jackets and even put away guest shoes if you’re really short on space. You can also organize linen closets for guests if you’re planning on having them stay with you for longer than the evening.
- Have neutral scents on hand: If your house is hosting holiday meals and guests, be sure not to overwhelm the air with too many candles, wax warmers or plug-in air fresheners. Synthetic scents such as these can be too much when mixed with other aromas from cooking and baking. If anything, keep a scent like vanilla on hand, one that will not be disagreeable to most people.
- Create an itinerary beforehand: A great thing to do for yourself if you’re juggling hosting, cooking and socializing is to map out a timeline for your festivities. Keep a note of what elements of the meal need to be started at what time for each component to be ready in tandem. You may also want to make a list for the days before guests arrive, so you don’t forget to conduct any one task.