Holiday entertaining etiquette for hosts and hostesses

‘Tis the season for large gatherings. Holiday get-togethers are supposed to be about family, friendship, and festivities. Yet, they can be stressful and sometimes down right nightmarish. Hosts and hostesses can take some preemptive steps to keep holiday dinners and parties merry and bright.

Before Guests Arrive

Establish a start time and an approximate end time for the gathering. Include that information on written invitations and mention it during all verbal invitations. Keep the guest list manageable for the amount of food prepared or bought and for the location of the gathering. Neatness is next to godliness, so straighten up the place. Any area that will be seen by guests should be clean and neat. Stock the restroom with plenty of soap, toilet paper, and paper towels.

Be a CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer)

Do not allow any one guest to make other guests feel uncomfortable. As host or hostess, be prepared to dive on a metaphorical grenade if necessary to squelch a disagreement should one arise. If children are expected to attend, having simple activities for them to entertain themselves before and after the meal is a good idea. Coloring books, coloring sheets, puzzles, or books are easy options. Practice proper “petiquette”. Be mindful that while a beloved pet might be like family, some guests prefer not to mix food with pet fur.

Food and Refreshments

Have enough food and drinks for the number of guests invited, having extra food is the best idea. (Remember to take care of the home team. Prepare enough food for the family to have something to eat later if the main event happens earlier in the day.) Having a variety of food options will ensure that every guest has something that they can enjoy. Never “food shame” a guest. Allow picky eaters to opt out of foods that they choose not to eat. Remember the small things (condiments, ice, napkins, etc.). But most of all – eat, drink, and be merry!


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