The Five Best Hosting Time Hacks
We all WANT to host the best dinner party ever, but then we start worrying about burning the bread, over cooking the chicken, cleaning the entire house and pretty soon we’ve talked ourselves out of even inviting friends over. Let’s ditch the expectation of perfection and fill our tables with friends and family and enjoy living life together. Here are my favorite hosting time hacks to help you host in your home this holiday!
1. DON’T CLEAN
I know you think I’m crazy. You cannot possibly invite people over and NOT clean your house!! Hear me out on this. Yes, pick up the toys, put away the dishes, do the tidying up, but for goodness sake don’t scrub your floors and worry about every nook and cranny. No one is paying attention to any of the spots under your couch or in your closets, or even your floor for that matter! They are simply so thrilled to be invited over. All they’re going to notice is you welcoming them in.
I do have ONE exception to this rule : The ONE and only room that I do clean thoroughly before guests arrive is the main bathroom that they’ll be using. Other than that tidy up and then spend your precious time prepping the food and table! Because get this, I bet the kitchen floor and the area that everyone sat in for dinner is going to be DIRTY when they leave. We’re people and we make messes so save your floor scrubbing for after the party.
2. INVITE HELP
Everything is more fun together, many hands make for light work, the only mistake you can make is not asking for help…. Have you heard these sayings before? They’re true - honestly. So, no more trying to be super woman and do EVERYTHING on your own.
The funny thing is that people WANT to help, they’re waiting for YOU to give them space to be part of what you’re doing! So if you think back to last Thanksgiving, or the last time you hosted a dinner party and you have ill will toward the family for not washing dishes, or people for not bringing wine to share, or helping set out appetizers…friend that’s on you. Maybe you said what you thought you were supposed to say ‘oh please, sit and relax’ when really in your mind you were thinking ‘I WISH SOMEONE WOULD HELP ME’!
Make it easier for you and invite people to be part of the planning, let specific people know that they’ll be in charge of washing dishes, or setting the table. Spread the love and make this an event that everyone is a part of. You’ll be so glad you did when dinner is over and you all can enjoy relaxing, playing games and hanging out together.
3. DELEGATE (specifically ;) )
This is not the time for big blanket requests or even the ‘bring whatever works for you’ kind of statements. If you’re hosting you get to call the shots, plan the menu and tell people specifically what they can bring and do to help. Don’t worry, no one feels like you’re being bossy…unless of course you’re using your bossy 9-year-old-who-is-acting-like-a-Mom Voice ;).
MOST people will be so very glad that you gave them something specific to make or bring, you just helped them out! Now they don’t have to stand in the wine aisle wondering what wine will go best, or scan endlessly through Pinterest looking for the perfect salad, or worry that the dessert they’re bringing won’t go with what you have planned.
Plan your menu and then give everyone one specific piece to bring. It’s amazing how fun it is to set your table, get your house tidied and make a main dish when you KNOW that each guest is bringing part of the menu.
When we plan dinner parties or host family for the holidays I give myself the day or two before to do as MUCH cooking, prepping, shopping, setting up as possible. Then when it comes to the actual dinner party or when the family arrives we get to truly spend time together. Cooking together is definitely fun but it’s WAY more enjoyable in my mind if we won’t be cleaning a mountain of dishes or ALL trying to stand at the stove or put everything in the oven at one time.
Once you’ve planned your menu and delegated different items go through the recipes you’ll be making. Make a full shopping list and highlight the parts of the recipe that you could do the day before. A lot of time I pick dishes that I can make fully the day before so that all that is required is putting it under the broiler, or heating up the pot of soup.
And get this … SOMETIMES I make the items separately the week of the dinner and our family eats a portion for our own meal that evening. Sure we might eat the same soup twice that week, but no one minds! Or we might eat enchiladas 2 days in a row, but no one complains - especially ME since I got to do all the work and reap the benefit for multiple meals!
If you’re pressed for time, get creative. Get your family on board and make it fun. Host the dinner party or the larger family holiday events together, be the team captain and give everyone their areas to cover.
I like the details. All of the little things that go in to making a dinner party or holiday gathering special. BUT I also know that too many details can quickly turn from feeling special to overwhelming. So save yourself a BUNCH of time and decide on a few things that you know you want to have. Maybe it’s personalized place cards, or a special color of candle, fresh flowers or greenery, cloth napkins and napkin ring, you choose.
Gather those items together the week before and then tell yourself you’re done! No need to keep pursuing Pinterest for last minute ideas. No need to do last minute shopping trips scouring the Target dollar bins for more decor. Use what you already prepared and let your focus be on the people at the table.
Last minute ideas are a beast, they pull you away from truly enjoying because now you’re spending all of your time trying to find that perfect little squirrel to sit by each person’s plate when in reality no one would miss it or sometimes even notice that the squirrel was there! Save your time for getting yourself, your home and your table set and ready.
If you’re looking for even more tips planning a holiday meal check out our book Dinner Changes Everything. I designed it to make hosting a meal as easy as possible with full menus, tips on how to prep each dish and timelines so all of the food can be ready when you are. And if you’re pulling serving bowls and utensils out realizing you need a few more, check out all of the beautiful items filling our Online Shop. It is incredible how a few new pieces can add so much beauty. Every item in our shop provides dignified work - so you my friend can fill your table with freedom.
photography by Danielle Lentz Photography