Some people get very, very into hosting for the holidays, pulling out their finest aprons and planning menus weeks in advance. The rest of us, while perfectly capable of throwing a great party, don’t always have the energy for it, especially with everything else going on this time of year. If you’re in the latter group, that’s totally okay! Some of us just don’t have the Martha Stewart/Ina Garten gene in us — but your guests don’t have to know that.
A few special details and extra-luxe serving pieces can make even the plainest dishes pop. Fool your guests into thinking you’re a born host with these simple, surprisingly easy entertaining ideas. Honestly, you probably won’t even have to turn on your oven — even Ina admits that store-bought is fine in a pinch. Bonus: these hosting shortcuts will free up time for you to focus on the important things, like curating the perfect playlist and deciding what you’re going to wear.
GET FANCY DISHES
There’s a reason some people say you eat with your eyes: presentation is everything. With the right serving trays and dinnerware
, you could probably set out a platter of pizza rolls and impress your guests. Well, pizza rolls might be pushing it a little, but you get the point. Whether you’re serving hors d’oeuvres a la freezer section
or throwing together the world’s easiest cheese plate, we’ve got a whole host of dinnerware
and other serving items to elevate the situation. No pun intended.
Similarly, punch bowls and beverage dispensers were simply made for the holidays. They allow your guests to serve themselves, meaning less work for you without seeming rude or lazy about it. Pick one large-format cocktail or punch that’s easy to make, and keep a few bottles of champagne on hand to offer guests too.
KEEP THE DRINKS FLOWING
Speaking of champagne, a well-stocked bar and selection of beverages makes any gathering better. We like having a white, a red and some spirits handy, plus options for sober guests or designated drivers. Mismatched glassware
feels cool and vintage, or keep it coordinated for a more put-together mood.
GARNISHES ARE YOUR BFF
Maybe you love baking — and that’s great! Or maybe you’re more excited by the thought of eating the finished product. For those in the latter camp, stop worrying about suddenly becoming the next great baking champion and just buy a pie from the store to garnish at home. Nuts like pecans are easy and classic, but we also love chopped up figs for an unexpected foodie touch.
On a similar note, you can totally get away with serving your guests comfort food if you fancify it a bit. Baked mac and cheese is an eternal crowd pleaser, and adding lobster to the mix makes it feel extra special and festive. You don’t even need to make a stop at the fish market: frozen lobster tails aren’t too difficult to find at your local grocery store. Simply thaw, boil or bake, and voila, leveled up mac and cheese.
WE <3 A DESSERT BAR
Dessert bars check all the boxes: trendy, Instagrammable and super simple to put together. Prop a store-bought cake or your freshly garnished pies on an elegant stand
, and fill jars and dishes
with seasonally appropriate cookies and candies. It’s the perfect way to cap off the evening with a sweet note.
P.S. Speaking of “store bought,” garnishes totally jazz up dessert, too. Our food stylist added red and black currants and a slice of fig to vanilla cupcakes and it turned out so festive. Might be our favorite trick yet.
Now, go forth and impress your guests so thoroughly, they’ll think you hang out and swap hosting tips with Ina and Martha every weekend.