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At Home for the Holidays: Your Guide to Hosting at Home with Ease

: A table set with fork, spoon, napkin, plate, champagne glasses, a salad, and bread.

While the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be a little stressful—especially when you’re entertaining in your own space. Believe it or not, 60% of Americans are planning to host a holiday event this year. Luckily, we have all the tips you need to become the host with the most and show your family there truly is no place like home for the holidays. Read on to learn how to be a good host this holiday season! 

Make to-do lists.

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it can be hard to keep track of all your tasks. That’s why making lists (and checking them twice!) can come in handy. Days or weeks before your seasonal celebration, make a list of everything you need to do—from picking out your outfit and grocery shopping to buying decorations and curating the party playlist. The more details, the better!

Keep the menu simple.

When you’re cooking a special meal for your family, it’s best to stick with what you know. Only include your tried-and-true dishes on the menu. Save the stress and surprises that come with experimenting and trying new recipes for another time. Whether you're doing heavy appetizers or serving a three-course meal, include hot and cold options and healthy and comfort fares. Plus, remember to be mindful of common dietary restrictions; you may have vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, nut-free, or gluten-free friends. 

Prep, prep, prep!

The secret to success? Preparation. Pre-everything—pre-chop veggies and herbs, pre-measure ingredients, and pre-cook anything you can. Chill beverages, marinate meats, rinse and chop produce, and make sauces and desserts. Also, be sure to print out your recipes and keep this quick reference conversion chart close by:

Illustrated conversion chart for cups, tablespoons, and quarts

Did you pre-chop your produce? Yay, you! Keep everything fresh and learn the best way to store fresh produce now. 

Accept help.

As the host, you really can’t do it all—and you shouldn’t! If your crew offers to help, let them. Delegate basic tasks like emptying the dishwasher, greeting guests, or taking out the trash. When all hands are on deck, you’ll be able to enjoy the evening, too.

Set up early.

Setting up is a fun and easy task, but leaving it for the final hour will have you feeling stressed and dashing through the house. Plan to clean, decorate, and set the table at least one day in advance. Need some help? Here’s a cheat sheet for how to set your table the right way:

Illustration for a formal table setting includes a plate, three glasses and a bread plate with utensils

An informal table setting illustration with two glasses, a plate and utensils

Get festive.

Ambiance is everything. Set the mood by lighting festive candles, playing holiday music, and infusing your home with the smells of the season. A simple way to do this is by making a stovetop simmer pot. Here’s one of our favorites:

An apple cider simmer pot recipe with an illustratoin of a pot with hot liquid inside

Apple Cider Simmer Pot Recipe


  • Apple peels
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Orange rinds
  • Whole cloves
  • Water


  • Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Add in the ingredients, adjusting the amount to your preference.
  • Lower the heat to a simmer and add more water as needed—usually every 30 minutes.

Spread holiday cheers.

Create memories and keep traditions by offering a fun signature cocktail or mocktail. Take some pressure off and leave it out on the bar cart for easy access and self-serving. Don’t forget the napkins, garnishes, and extra cups!

Looking for a cocktail recipe to inspire you? Check out "The Top Classic Cocktails to Master" right now!

Plan activities.

Whether it’s decorating Christmas cookies or playing a game of cards, having activities planned to keep your family engaged and entertained is key. Here are some questions you can ask to get the conversations—and the good times—rolling.

1.     What’s your earliest holiday memory?

2.     What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

3.     What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

4.     What’s one thing that made you laugh this year?

5.     What are you most looking forward to next year?

Relax & have fun.

The holidays are all about making memories and spending time with the people you love. Remember to get out of the kitchen, take off your apron, and live in the moment. If you're stressed and distracted, guests will pick up on the vibe. Trust us, the dishes can wait! 

Read "Relaxation Techniques You Can Practice On the Go" to learn some quick tips for de-stressing.

How to Be a Good Host & Have Great Etiquette 

By following these tips, you'll learn how to be a good host. To make an even better impression, it's important to practice table manners. In our holiday dining refresh guide, we walk you through proper table etiquette, good manners, utensil etiquette at the table, and much more. Please, check it out!