Sometimes it feels like as mere mortals, hosting the picture-perfect holiday party is simply beyond our purview. Isn’t it better to let the pros like Martha, Nigella, and Ina handle the canapés and elaborate centerpieces so we can get on with ordering takeout. Not necessarily.
Luckily, we have been #blessed with their wisdom, and can go into the holiday season armed with tips from the best and brightest on when it comes to hosting.
Get your day- before-hustle down pat.
Arguably the most authoritative of lifestyle gurus, Martha Stewart has a thesis-level dedication to planning out your Thanksgiving dinner. But for those hoping to keep the day-of stress to a minimum, there are some great tidbits of advice. The day before your meal, buy salad greens, bake your pies, and set the table. And—most importantly—make a plan for the big day, including a strategy for cooking the turkey. “The last think you’ll want to have is a slew of hungry guests waiting on an uncooked bird,” she says.
Use what you have for decorations.
There’s no need to spend hours fussing over the perfect floral centerpiece, British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson tells Stylist. “Use food, and non-fancy food at that, as decoration,” she says, recommending a garland of grapes draped over the mantle or putting clementines on a shelf. “The best part is, none of this adornment is wasteful, as you get to eat it all!” A woman after our own hearts.
Remember to relax.
For Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, organization is also key (and we’d expect nothing less of someone who once worked on nuclear energy at the White House). And it’s doubly as important to be organized when you’re hosting. “The most important thing for having a party is that the hostess is having fun,” she tells Epicurious. “I make sure I have at least one thing done the day before, and then I only have the one thing in the oven when guests arrive.” Now, how easy is that?
Take a minute to be thankful.
In the chaos of trying to get the stuffing, cranberry sauce, and turkey on the table in time, it’s easy to lose sight of the holiday. But for Gwyneth Paltrow, Thanksgiving is all about keeping perspective. “I love when everyone comes together and celebrates the idea of gratitude, something we all mean to do every day but seem to lose sight of most of the time,” she writes on goop. “No matter what type of meal you are having, take a moment to think about how much you do have… and reflect on how you can share more of it with others.”
Know your tablescape.
Just because you’ll probably dress up for a holiday party doesn’t mean your table should be fussy, too. “I love using glass water bottles, mason jars, or found containers as flower vessels,” lifestyle It-girl Athena Calderone tells Camille Styles. “It just feels more casual and unique than a standard vase.” She also recommends keeping a pitcher of water on the table so you don’t have to play waiter at dinner, too.