MANILA, Philippines – Christmas is fast approaching, and the time for small holiday gatherings has begun. No one wants to stress while entertaining, and while it may come naturally for some, others of us can always use some helpful tips and tricks when preparing for the gatherings that will bring our families and the family that we choose, together. Here are five tips to help navigate the holiday season and entertain with ease.
From choosing your guest list to planning the menu, having a plan that you can refer to as your gathering evolves will set the tone for the evening. Knowing which friends and family would enjoy each other’s company while making room for love and laughter is what the season is all about! Breaking bread with our favorite people is one of the best gifts during this time. Providing and planning for antigen testing for guests add an extra layer of protection and safety, too.
Set the stage
We experience everything through our senses. When inviting small groups into our homes, we consider setting the stage to provide a sensual experience for everyone. This can include simmering pineapple juice with clove and cinnamon on the stove on a low fire or baking gingerbread just before your guests arrive. It can also include lighting candles and incorporating fresh flowers into your decors while playing fun Christmas songs in the background. With new threats to our health and well-being, keeping everyone safe while we entertain is important too. Strategic placement of hand sanitizer and wet wipes can be helpful, and will surely be appreciated by your guests.
Provide activities for the kids
Providing activities for the little ones can be as simple as laying out coloring sheets and crayons on the kiddie table or asking them to cut snowflakes with ate and kuya. Other fun activities you can purchase, which can also be part of holiday gifts, include learning kits from Tiger Tribe or Cookie Decorating Kits from The Little Whisk. If you have enough time to plan ahead, check out the Gingerbread House Kit from The Little Whisk too!
Another activity that is great to do with the kids is a gratitude chain. Cutting strips of paper and having the kids write things they are grateful for remind us the reason for the season.
Don’t do it all
No one wants to feel the stress of the host when visiting a friend’s home. When planning your menu for entertaining, make your best dish and order others. Or leave the heavy cooking to the experts and just make the sides. Check out Maggie’s East Coast Turkey from Nic’s or roast beef from Neil’s Kitchen. If cochinillo is your thing, take note of Illos Party Trays and paella from Alba’s. Casseroles made ahead of time are easy and stress-free when entertaining big groups, and ordering desserts from your favorite home bakers allows you to set up a dessert buffet that you can make pretty and set in theme. You can also add ready-to-heat dishes from Nic’s, Auntie Arnie’s, or Conti’s to your table.
Give thanks and take care
If there is anything that the pandemic has done, it has caused us to pause, give thanks, and count our blessings. Everything has shifted and many people are living with so much more intention. Perhaps, the gatherings have become smaller and more intimate. Perhaps, there is an added activity in the holiday season that includes giving to others and caring for the less fortunate. Teaching our children to be grateful during this time seems apropos. Coming together with our loved ones is even more important as we gather around our holiday tables and prepare for the New Year celebrations. – Rappler.com