“T‘was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. …
If there was ever a Christmas Eve that was as calm as all that, it was likely in a household that didn’t celebrate Christmas”
It certainly is a hectic few days, and as a result a few alterations have to be made to help things flow a little more smoothly. If you are having a group of people drop over, then it’s a good idea to clear out the front hall closet. I would suggest that you take your own coats upstairs, leaving room in the closet for the guests. This will save you from having to run up and down the stairs every time a new guest arrives.
If you happen to be planning a sit down dinner have a look at the elements that you are going to use, and make sure they are clean and available. It is a good idea to set the table early in the day. It looks spectacular as people arrive and it is one less thing to do. If you have a centrepiece that is fairly tall, replace it with something shorter so that everyone has a good view. Do name tags for seating, as that can change the conversational direction of the evening.
If you are having a bigger group to dinner, create a buffet styled meal where people sit wherever they like in the house. The ‘self serve’ aspect of a buffet can be easier for the host, but be sure to prepare in advance. First think about the food stations and furniture pieces for the buffet: Kitchen island or the dining table or buffet — but also consider the traffic pattern. It is difficult for guests to know where to start and what direction the line is intended to flow. Think of having plates to begin the line and leave the cutlery to the end. Juggling a glass, cutlery, a plate and serving utensils is just too much. Do a little rehearsal of what would be comfortable for you and it will likely create a flow that works for your guests as well.
Create a self serve bar and decide if you are going to have wine and beer instead of a full bar. The full bar requires more space on the table to accommodate glass selections, the additional alcohol and various mixes. Wine and beer only requires that you provide a way to keep them both chilled as well as the necessary glasses required. Allow people a way to identify their glass, otherwise be sure the bar has clean glassware throughout the evening.
Make sure that you remove some of the Christmas decor and photo frames, etc. from the side table and coffee tables around the guest seating area. They are going to need this space to place glasses, plates, discarded napkins and anything else. Your host duties will be to ensure that these surfaces are being cleared up so that the sitting room doesn’t start to look like the dish pit at a restaurant. The reality of being a host is that you really don’t get to enjoy the guests at the party. Your joy has to come from creating the party; otherwise, hire a catering waiter!
Remember that the focus is family and friends. As my granddad would say, “what goes wrong this year are dinner stories for next year!” Hoping you have a story worthy Christmas and New Year filled with family and friends.