Tips for Easy Holiday Hosting

Holiday hosting can be so fun yet so overwhelming at the same time. About five years ago when we moved into our house I decided to host Thanksgiving for my family. I was so excited for two reasons: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and we never had the space to host before, but now we did! This was my time to shine!

The week of hosting came and I went straight into panic mode. Every other sentence to myself was, “What were you thinking Kelli?” I forgot items, things were not set up properly, food was not ready in time, and I was a hot mess. I swore I would never host again! Yet here I am, five years later, still hosting and loving every minute of it! A great friend taught me you just need a plan of attack! Here’s how I master holiday hosting in my home without the stress!

Start Early

I start prepping our house about four weeks beforehand. I want to share my timeline when it comes to hosting that fun holiday gathering this season!

Four weeks out:

I get a few lists going: guest list, food list, cleaning schedule, what items I have on hand, and what I still need to get.

Three weeks out:

Start cleaning. When I host, I do a deep clean of the whole house, but my pro-tip is to break down cleaning into sections! At the three-week mark, I clean the walls, baseboards, and cupboards.

Then I get a final head count for the number of people who will be eating. This helps me figure out what size turkey I need to order. I get a fresh turkey because then I don’t have to worry about thawing it out. And honestly, fresh just tastes better. I also like to get a head count early so I can scope out deals at the stores for the other dishes I will be making!

Two weeks out:

I finalize my menu and send it out to my family, especially if they are bringing a dish to pass. I start to shop for staple items that won’t go bad like gravy and butter. I also pick up disposable items like napkins, cups, beverages, and pop up trash cans.

The week of:

I create a timeline for the food I am cooking and consider the following:

  • What foods am I cooking?
  • How long will each item take to prepare and then cook?
  • Do I need the stove, oven, or crockpot?
  • Does it need to be refrigerated?
  • What serving dish will the food go in?

I always start with my biggest item that will take the longest, which for me is the turkey, and work my way backwards from there.

I also make plenty of to-do lists during this week because I don’t want to miss anything!

Two days before:

Make sure I have all the food at my house and ready to go. I check every food item off my list. This also saves me from making any last-minute runs to the store.

One day before:

I prep whatever food I can ahead of time and store it properly. Then I clean the house and floors. To accommodate my family, I rearrange furniture and bring up the tables and chairs. I wash all of the the dishes and serving pieces I will need. I use my grandparents’ dishes ONCE a year and this is the time I use them.

The day of:

Set up the chairs and tables, put out the place settings, set up the serving dishes, and cook, cook, cook!

Hosting can be overwhelming, but it also can be so much fun! I truly believe that planning and starting early is the key to my success and why I continue to host my family for the holidays.

For more inspiration on hosting a stress-free and magical holiday season, check out Simplify the Holidays and Enjoy all of the Moments.

Kelli Careathers
Hi! My name is Kelli, I am a mama bear to one daughter, her name is Adrianna! My family and I live in East Lansing and are a true Spartan family! I am a health and wellness coach, who works with women daily to empower them to live their best lives and be their support along their journey. In my spare time I love to workout, cook and catch up on my DVR shows!


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