Holiday Dinner Party Tips from the Entertaining Experts

By Peyton Ladt Sterns December 17, 2018 

Entertaining over the holidays can be overwhelming. From several trips to the grocery store, to squeezing in that plus-one guest your cousin forgot to tell you he was bringing, and making time to feed and actually talk to your guests - TBH, I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

But, there are great ways to minimize the stress and optimize the art of enjoyment: cue the experts. We've tapped some of our favorite friends and notable experts in the biz to lend their voice and advice to this wonderfully busy and delicious time of year. Read on and tell us your tried and true tips below!

Daniel Holzman, The Meatball Shop & Project Foodie

"People love helping out when they come over to a dinner party but let’s face it, it’s stressful enough preparing a meal by yourself without the added pressure of directing a bunch of well wishers around your kitchen.  My advise? Put a list of tasks and chores together for people to help out with, after all, the holidays are about sharing, and people genuinely do want to help. Make sure the the tasks aren’t too menial but nothing so important that it will ruin Christmas if it gets messed up.  With a little forethought you can put the whole party to work and enjoy playing air traffic control with a stiff drink and a smile." @chefholzman

Erin Patinkin, Ovenly

"Plan a few weeks ahead! I like to visit the farmers market to see what's looking good, then, usually over a coffee, I take out my notebook and write out what I liked and figure out how I can make each ingredient connect and meld into different dishes. I usually do a bunch of doodling to visualize each dish as well. Personally, I think it makes the planning fun, too." @erinpatinkin

Katie Rue, Reception Bar

"A good cocktail can take over a minute to make, and with the colder weather, people are looking for warm options. The solution is to batch a concentrate version of the cocktail ahead of time by combining the liquor, bitters and juices together. When it's time for the party, bring out ice, sparkling water (optional) and a hot water dispenser. Now you can quickly make both cold and hot versions of your cocktail! Don't forget to add the garnish; great holiday options include freshly grated cinnamon and dried or candied fruits." @kaaatink

Michael Chernow, Seamore’s & The Meatball Shop

"I like to give myself as much time as possible when cooking for a big group over the holidays, I literally break the menu down into 3 day chunks so that each day is relatively easy, and on the day of, I can actually hang with the family." @michaelchernow

Elisa Marshall, Maman

"My best advise when entertaining this holiday season is to work with tried & true recipes that you know and love when entertaining! It is not the best time to be experimenting so when entertaining over the holiday, I love to incorporate some seasonal twists on my old family & entertaining ‘go to’ recipes - some simple takes on classics can be elevated to a festive fool proof themed dinner." @_byelisa_

Lauren Ko, LokoKiotchen

"Use dinnerware, flatware, and serveware that is dishwasher safe!" @lokokitchen

Denise Porcaro, Owner of Flowergirl

"Stay seasonal and stay simple - the flowers of the season are always the most beautiful which is why you hear this over and over again with regards to both food and blooms any particular season. There is already so much to do around the holidays. Find a few flowers or colors that you gravitate towards for your holiday centerpiece or holiday blooms around your home and repeat. Don't overbuy either with quantities or components as it will make it all more work for you around an already busy time.  It should be fun and easy. If you have a few extra sprigs of evergreen or berries add them to the top of your wrapped presents to tie it all together, quite literally (and to look like a pro in the process!)." @deniseporcarotupper

Jordan Salcito, RAMONA

"Set the dining room table in advance, Serve something that is so easy it allows you to mingle with your guests and really be the host with the most..I open a few RAMONA cans, pour over ice, allow guests to spike with tequila if they'd like, or enjoy it straight!  It ensures everyone gets a drink in their hands and can relax right away. Also, have a few thoughtful mocktails on hand for guests who aren't looking to imbibe or might be driving." @jordansalcito

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Peyton Ladt Sterns

Chocolate chip cookies are my spirit animal.

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