The holiday season is packed with social events big and small. What makes some more memorable than others? The extra thought and special touches from the host or hostess.
Cookbook author and entertaining expert Gaby Dalkin recently teamed up with the Paper & Packaging – How Life Unfolds campaign to share how you can make a big statement this season with surprisingly little effort. These five entertaining tips are guaranteed to help you create a one-of-kind party, leaving guests impressed and full of holiday spirit.
Conquer holiday stress with to-do lists
To reduce stress, stay organized and ensure you maintain a merry attitude, use printed templates to create handwritten holiday party to-do lists.
"I start my to-do lists weeks before the celebration and break them down by day," Dalkin says. "A few days before the big event, I stock up on beverages. Two days before I buy all the shelf-stable ingredients. The day before, all the produce goes into the fridge, and I make any sauces or appetizers that can rest in the fridge overnight without being affected. And then, the day of the party is broken down by the hour. If you’re making a roast, start it in the morning. A salad can be prepped ahead of time and dressed before serving."
Elevate gifting with personalized presentation
Nearly half of Americans feel that gift presentation enhances the gift they give or receive, according to a Paper and Packaging Board survey. That means if you want to impress, don't skimp on gift presentation.
"I grab a few rolls of brown kraft paper and make it special," Dalkin says. "If I’m sending a present to someone who loves food, I’ll grab some stamps with fun food on them and stamp the paper so it’s customized for that individual. If it’s my younger niece, I’ll stamp it with some hearts. These small gestures make a big impact."
Use a creative approach to assigned seating
Assigned seating is particularly helpful when entertaining large groups. It takes the guesswork out of sitting down to dinner and keeps the evening flowing smoothly. It’s also an easy way to add festive style to the tabletop.
"If I’m entertaining for more than 10, I’ll make little fold-over name tags out of cute cardstock," says Dalkin. "I’ll punch a hole in the paper name tag and weave in a bit of rosemary, paper ribbon or a fresh flower to give it an extra pop."
Add pizazz with a Champagne bar
The survey also found that for approximately half of Americans, a cocktail bar stands out as a key component for an unforgettable holiday party.
Add an easy yet elegant touch to any holiday gathering by setting up a Champagne bar. Simply chill a few bottles, place on a bar cart and add bowls of fresh berries and carafes of fresh squeezed juices. Include handwritten cardstock labels near each ingredient so your guests can mix and match to their hearts’ content.
This no-fuss station encourages guests to make their own cocktails at their leisure, giving the host extra time to catch up. Plus, Dalkin adds, "I’ve found that Champagne bars are often one of the most photographed elements of the night."
Send guests home with a little something homemade
Frozen cookie dough is one of the trendiest homemade gifts of the year. Just whip up your favorite batch of dough, tightly wrap it in parchment paper and freeze. Then add some holiday ribbons, a personalized paper label and handwritten baking instructions.
"Recipients can slice and bake at their leisure and file the recipe card for years to come," says Dalkin. "You can make the same thing for everyone, or perhaps a few different batches to suit any sweet tooth. I think of it as a gift that keeps giving."