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10 Tips for Being a Great Host

10 tips for being a great host

Having friends and family over this holiday season? Here are ten practical tips for simplifying your life, mixing things up and making a splash!


1Choose wisely

Christmas Eve dinner or brunch? Cocktail buffet or traditional dinner? It all depends on your guests and the size of the group! A three-course dinner is better for more intimate gatherings, while brunch or buffet-style meals are perfect for larger get-togethers.

2Plan a simple menu

It’s best to stick to recipes with which you’re very comfortable. This is not the time to experiment or prepare complex time-consuming dishes. If you want to try out a new appetizer, follow it with a classic main dish, whether it’s your famous turkey or our roast beef. Cap off the feast with a new twist on a simple dessert. Changing one ingredient is all it takes to transform a dish to win over young and old alike. Why not add fresh raspberries to your Yule log or orange zest to your trifle cream?

Plan out the evening

3Plan out the evening

Begin the soiree with finger foods that will keep hungry tummies satisfied. The main meal is generally served between 7:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. If you’re hosting a family gathering that includes senior citizens or children, food may be served earlier.

4Ask for backup

A guest offers to give you a hand? Accept without hesitation. To stay in control of the evening, prepare a list of the dishes you’re missing and divvy them up among your volunteer chefs – cocktails, finger foods, fine cheese platter, dessert… Carefully check every dish your guests brought with them and ask the cooks for instructions on how to keep, prepare and serve them. Finally, appoint one person as your right-hand chef to ensure there are never too many cooks in the kitchen.


5Don’t forget the beverages

Pay special attention to the wines that will accompany the different dishes. Why not try a local liqueur for dessert? In addition to wines, cocktails and sparkling drinks, keep a beautiful pitcher filled with cold water at all times. You can add a festive touch by flavoring it with herbs, pomegranate seeds, cucumber slices or even orange wedges. Of course, don’t forget the coffees, teas and other hot drinks for a fabulous finish to a sumptuous feast.

6Stay on budget

There’s no need to spend a fortune to impress your guests. Once you’ve decided on your menu, compile an exhaustive list of all the ingredients you need, indicating how much of each you need. It’s a good idea to showcase seasonal foods, opt for store brands wherever possible and, most importantly, never deviate from the master list!

7Put your game plan in writing

To make sure that you don’t forget anything when the pressure’s on, write down everything that needs to be done that evening, as well as the time each task will take. With a good game plan, you’ll minimize mistakes—and give yourself the chance to have a nice time with your guests.

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8Organize mini-tastings

The holiday season is the perfect time to indulge and discover new delicacies. Guests who are so inclined can bring over a favorite food to share with the rest of the family between courses. Cheese, terrine, chutney, chocolate, shortbread cookies—it’s up to you!

9Don’t neglect the décor

Decorations are an integral part of any party and should also be included in your shopping list. Without the proper presentation, even the finest dishes can fall flat. Set the table elegantly, with a tablecloth, beautiful dishes, centerpiece with fir branches, etc. You can also decorate serving plates with fresh cranberries, ground cherries or mint leaves. Another idea: let guests know where to sit with edible place cards. For example, write their names on cookies using royal icing!

10Create a festive atmosphere

Christmas Eve dinner is not just any family dinner. Spice things up by compiling a playlist with each family member’s favorite song, and then try to guess who picked which song. Between courses, organize games to keep the conversation flowing. What better way to give yourself time to prepare the next dish!