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5 Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Hosting

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We love everything about the holiday season: the decor, the entertaining, the cooking and baking, the presents. We've partnered with Bloomingdale's to bring you tips for how to holiday in style, from home decorating pointers to stylish tricks to the tools you need to pull off the holidays with ease.

Few innocuous things terrify me more than the idea of guests "just dropping in" unannounced. (Even if a friend is coming by for a casual weeknight meal, I still want to budget time beforehand to tidy up my closet just in case they want to take a peek inside.) Once the holiday season comes around, the odds of an unexpected guest or a last-minute fest get even higher. With some smart planning and a few home helpers though, you’ll be ready for dinner or overnight guests with time to spare for tackling your little cleaning quirks too! To get you started, here are 5 of my favorite guest-prep tips:

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How do you solve breakfast for a crowd? Two words: egg coddlers.
How do you solve breakfast for a crowd? Two words: egg coddlers. Photo by Bobbi Lin

1. Take inventory of your serveware

Open up your cabinets, peek into your closet, maybe even check under the bed—knowing which trays, bowls, and platters you have on hand at the beginning of the season will help you know what you may need to buy or borrow. I’m a big fan of walled trays like this ceramic platter that can go from serving up crudités (with room for a bowl of dip), to holding a large salad, to presenting the main course.

Get Organized Now, Stress Less Come the Great In-Law Invasion
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Get Organized Now, Stress Less Come the Great In-Law Invasion

You’re also going to need more spoons and forks for serving than you realize—you can never have enough spoons and forks. Something sparkly like this serving set will handle any extra side dishes and jazz the table up, too!

2. Use tools that will speed up clean up

To maximize time spent hanging out with friends and family, it’s essential to find ways to make kitchen clean-up easier. Lining baking sheets with parchment paper will let you roast vegetables without fear of any burnt, stuck-on bits needing a long soak. (As a bonus, you can also swap out the paper for a new sheet and go directly from roasting up potatoes for dinner to baking cookies for dessert!)

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5 Handy Facts About Baking with Parchment Paper
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5 Handy Facts About Baking with Parchment Paper

A Frywall won’t clean a pan for you, but it will keep your stovetop (and your clothes) safe from splattering oil or a sauce. Just place it in your fry pan and watch grease build up on the inside of the Frywall, instead of everywhere else. It’s especially helpful for messy holiday favorites, like frying up latkes for Hanukkah.

8 Jazzed-Up Latkes (Not that Latkes Need Jazzing)

8 Jazzed-Up Latkes (Not that Latkes Need Jazzing) by Caroline Lange

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Yes, You Should Deep-Fry Your Christmas Pastries (& Cover Them with Sprinkles)

Yes, You Should Deep-Fry Your Christmas Pastries (& Cover... by Emiko

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3. Let guests help out with breakfast

After cooking up a holiday meal the night before, you might not want to spring awake and make a big breakfast the next morning. But if you have overnight guests, they’ll probably appreciate something more than coffee when they wake up. The solution: let guests pitch in at an egg coddler bar! Set out some toppings (cheese, bacon, even leftover roasted veggies) and let guests crack the eggs into coddlers and customize to their taste. Close up the coddlers and place into a pot of simmering water. Ten minutes later, breakfast is served!

The Kitchen Tool You Didn't Know You Needed

The Kitchen Tool You Didn't Know You Needed by Caroline Lange

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The One Tool You Need to Throw the Best Brunch Party

The One Tool You Need to Throw the Best Brunch Party by Olivia Bloom

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4. Serve up a drink everyone can enjoy

A big pitcher of iced tea is your secret to satisfying kids and adults alike. Pair with a bottle of infused simple syrup (I tend to go with something fun and floral like lavender) to appeal to those with a sweet tooth, or a bottle of bourbon for anyone looking for something boozy. Keep a jigger on hand so guests can play mixologist and measure out their own syrup and bourbon.

Mint Iced Tea

Mint Iced Tea by Merrill Stubbs

Customizable Simple Syrup

Customizable Simple Syrup by Emma Laperruque

5. Keep some quick gifts on hand

Whether for a host or hostess, an office Secret Santa, or an unexpected plus-one, there’s a good chance you’re going to need a few extra gifts on hand. Avoid any last-minute anxiety by stocking up on something nearly everyone will love—like this gift set that includes a woodsy candle, handmade match striker, and matches. It doesn’t even need to be wrapped, which is a holiday miracle in my book!

We've partnered with Bloomingdale's to bring you tips for how to holiday in style, from home decorating pointers to stylish tricks to the tools you need to pull off the holidays with ease. For more holiday entertaining inspiration and style check out our Food52 x Bloomingdale’s holiday collaboration.

Tags: organization, prep, tools