The holidays can be a stressful time -- especially when you're hosting! Cuban-American Sabrina Soto, Target's Home Style Expert and holiday host extraordinaire, shares her top tips for hosting sans stress, along with easy (and cheap!) ways to spiff up your home for guests. Trust us, these will definitely make your season bright.
What are the 5 easiest ways to ease stress when it comes to holiday entertaining?
1. Make a list of everything that needs to get done and set deadlines. It helps to put bigger projects that are the most time-consuming, such as getting a tree and stringing lights up outside your house, at the top of your list
2. Decide on a color palette before you start shopping for new decor items. Make a list of what you already own, and then look for pieces that you can easily incorporate for flexible looks.
3. Plan ahead and decide what areas in your home you want to focus on. By narrowing your efforts to specific rooms, you save time, money and stress.
4. It’s important to think about the guests who will be attending. Consider things like the size of the group, how many children will be there and whether all your guests know each other. Keeping your guests in mind will help you decide the style and theme of the party.
5. Don’t forget to plan for the amount of space you have. If you are in a smaller living space, opt for a cocktail party where guests can spread out and maximize the space in your home.
When it comes to presenting food courses — especially, say on Nochebuena - what's the best way that is the least stressful but still beautiful and great for guests?
1. Growing up in a Cuban family, I know the importance of Christmas dinner. If you are having a large party, set up buffet stations throughout the kitchen and dining area, with separate stations for appetizers, the main course, drinks and dessert. The evening is much less stressful without the formal serving element.
2. Preparing a beautiful dinner table in advance can help you avoid a lot of stress. Set the table the night before. Not only will this give you the opportunity to make any last minute changes, it will take one thing off your to-do list for the next day.
3. A guaranteed way to keep guests happy is to greet them with drinks. Set up a drink station near the entryway with festive holiday cocktails. Target has delicious Premium Drink Mixers packaged to look like ornaments; it’s the perfect final touch for a stylish holiday bar.
How (and what) can anyone prepare ahead of time to ease the burden for more time with guests?
1. There is no such thing as starting too early. The earlier you start preparing, the more you can relax and enjoy your party.
2. Planning your menu a week in advance will give you time to shop and locate any hard to find items, especially traditional ingredients from Latin America.
3. Include dishes in your menu that can be made ahead of time like quiches and tapenades. The night of the party, all you have to do is heat them up in the oven.
What are some easy ways to decorate your table that don't cost a lot of money?
1. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create the perfect holiday table. You can layer new pieces with items you already own in the same way you might with your wardrobe. Start with a neutral palette of chairs, plates and linens and layer in accent pieces to add color, changing the look throughout the holiday season.
2. If your dining room chairs are the right design, style them for a holiday party. Choose a colored ribbon that matches your tablescape and tie it in a pretty bow around each chair. Add a few complementary ornaments to finish off the look.
3. Candlelight is a beautiful and inexpensive way to decorate your dining room table. If you have small children, battery-powered candles are a safe alternative. They come in a variety of sized that will help add a warm ambiance to your dining room.
4. Metallic pieces are a sophisticated touch to your holiday table. Target has silver and gold chargers ($12.99 each) that pair with golden pinecones and mercury tree candles ($12.99 to $14.99) to create a warm ambiance for an elegant Christmas Eve dinner.
5. For the New Year’s Eve table, repurpose the brightest ornaments from your tree and use them as place cards for your guests or put them inside glass vases. You can mix a few different shapes and colors into two or three vases across the table center.
What can anyone do to make their holidays more enjoyable?
To make holiday entertaining more enjoyable, it helps to set a celebratory tone before your guests arrive. Create a festive email invitation that reflects the style of the party and add décor pieces to the outside of your home that mirror your invitation.
Don’t forget that music is just as important as décor. Plan ahead and make a holiday playlist for the evening that matches the mood you’ve created.