This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Santa Margherita Wines. All opinions are 100% mine.
At my house, the holidays are all about entertaining. Whether it’s having a couple friends over to hang out during the week, having a cocktail party, or inviting family over for a home-cooked dinner our house is almost always filled with people this time of year. While having company over is a blast, it can also stress you out if you’re not prepared. Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite holiday entertaining tips to make your get-together a breeze!
5 Easy Holiday Entertaining Tips
I find that the days I’m not prepared are the ones where I feel most frantic. Having a plan totally alleviates that stress…along with a glass of wine. While this may seem easy, most of the time people get caught up in what needs to be done right now instead of thinking about the big picture, myself included. You’ve invited your guests over. You know the date and time, so start planning!
Deep clean any areas of the house that need it one to two days ahead of time – bathrooms, the kitchen, and floors. Then you can touch up and give everything a quick once over the day of your get-together. Go shopping one to two days before. Create your menu and get what you need at the store. That way if you forget anything or realize you want/need to add something else to the menu, there’s time to run out real quick without stressing. Plan to have everything ready an hour before your guests will arrive. This is what I call buffer time. Warm foods can be kept on a warming tray or in a low temp oven and cold food in the fridge. If your party prep time runs long, you still have time to finish up before everyone arrives. More importantly, you’ll have time to freshen up too. My least favorite thing when guests are coming is to be in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on a dish and realizing I haven’t changed my shirt or done my makeup yet when the doorbell rings.
Holiday Meal Planners
Even if you’re making a holiday dinner, don’t over complicate things. You don’t need every side dish or appetizer in the world. Choose options that pair well with the wine, cocktails, or beverage you’re planning to serve and stick to the basics. If you want more options to eat, ask your guests to bring a specific course for the meal. You can worry about cooking a little less and 9 times out of 10 they’re happy to bring something in lieu of a hostess gift. Since I served the Santa Margherita Chianti Classico Riserva and Santa Margherita Pinto Grigio at our last party, I went with an Italian theme – serving prosciutto, salami, Asiago cheese, and caprese puff pastry cups as a starter for dinner. Everything went together beautifully. Don’t only think about the body and taste of your wine, but the region it comes from to inspire your menu.
Plan an easy snack or appetizer for your guests to munch on while you finish dinner and get everything transferred to serving bowls and platters. Make one or two side dishes that are crowd pleasers. Grab a bag of dinner rolls at the store. Prepare one entree that you can slice and serve family style. I love passing plates around the table and serving dinner family style. Make one easy dessert, or pick one up at the store. There’s nothing wrong with buying a dessert to simplify your life.
For a cocktail party
A cheese board or charcuterie plate is my go to starter option. You can have a variety of things to snack on – from cheese and meats to nuts, fruits, and olives – and it’s super easy to refill if anything runs low. Choose 3 to 4 appetizers and make a bunch of those dishes instead of trying to make 8 different things for everyone to eat. A few tried and true bites will keep everyone happy and full! Easy appetizer dip recipes are a great choice too, especially ones you make in the crock pot. Serve them with chips, crackers, or toasted slices of bread. The extra carbs will help everyone feel full and then you’re not scrambling to put out more food than you need to.
It doesn’t matter if you plan to serve a punch, cocktails, or wine at your holiday get-together, choosing a quality option is super important. One of my go to wine brands is Santa Margherita. Santa Margherita Wines are high quality, produced in traditional Italian style, and they have a passionate commitment to being sustainable, eco-friendly, vegan-friendly, and energy efficient. Pretty cool, huh? I really like the Chianti Classico Riserva for a deep flavor and full-body that pairs beautifully with all the rich holiday dishes we all love to eat. I’ve been known to grab a bottle during the week to treat myself or bring a bottle as a hostess gift. Pop the wine in a cute bag or just stick a really big bow on it and you’re set! I also like to keep a set of wine charms or chalkboard wine glasses on hand to help guests find their drinks easily. Yes, as much as I love whiskey I’m really into wine too.
One of my favorite things when I go to someone’s house during the holidays is the warmth and smells that greet me at the door. Give your guests that same inviting feeling the whole night with a few simple touches.
I love seasonal candles. Even if you ordered out for your menu, you want your house to smell good. Choose candles that aren’t too overpowering. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve been at someone’s house and over the course of the night, the candles they have lit just start to take over the room. Choose clean scents or even pick up a few unscented candles if you’ll be cooking. Just having some candles lit invokes the same kind of feelings as a roaring fire and who doesn’t love that?
This may seem silly, but make sure you have enough seating for everyone. For a dinner party this is a must, but even for a cocktail party, you want to have somewhere for everyone to sit. While most guests are content to mingle standing up or to walk around, you want to know that should anyone (or everyone) want to sit down, they can. I also totally recommend placing a few extra comfy throw pillows on your couch and/or a decorative (super soft!) throw blanket in case anyone gets chilly.
We touched on this while planning for the party, but a clean house that’s easy to maneuver will make your party a hit. Even if it’s family you see all the time, and say they don’t mind when your house it a little messy, it’ll make them feel special that you took the time to clean and get your house company ready for them.
It’s so easy to get caught up in being a host or hostess at your party that you forget to stop and just enjoy the night. This is why I like to keep the food and drinks so simple. They’re one aspect of the night that really need ongoing maintenance. So plan ahead and make smart choices so you can forget to fuss and enjoy this special time with your guests. If you have a spouse or roommate to help you man the food and drinks, coordinate with them to take turns or each of you can be in charge of one thing. This way you’ll get to enjoy your guests and your party instead of freaking out that someone ate the last deviled egg. (That was me. I did it.)
I hope these tips have inspired you to have a fantastic holiday party that you’ll truly be able to enjoy. It’s really easier than you might think with a little planning and some great food & drinks, you’ll have the house that everyone wants to go to this holiday season!
These easy Caprese Phyllo Cups are a party perfect bite you can make ahead of time and serve when ready!
- 2 beefsteak tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic
- 5 to 6 basil leaves (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 to 6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- 30 prepared mini phyllo cups
- Remove the ends from the tomatoes. Cut in half and remove the seeds. Dice the tomatoes and place in a mixing bowl. You want to minimize the amount of extra liquid that ends up in the tomato mixture.
- Finely mince the garlic or grate it on a
microplaneand add to the tomatoes.
- Stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll into a log shape. Use a sharp knife to thinly slice the basil roll-up (chiffonade). Add the basil to the tomatoes.
- Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and gently mix everything together to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Dice the mozzarella (you want very small pieces) and add it to the tomato mixture. Gently mix.
- Place the phyllo cups on a serving platter. Use a spoon to portion the Caprese mixture into each of the cups until the are all filled.
- Serve immediately.
If you want to prepare this dish ahead of time, make the tomato/basil mixture, cover and refrigerate. Dice the cheese, place in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate. When you’re ready to serve, combine the cheese and tomato mixture, and then portion into your puff pastry cups.