It’s officially the holiday season, which means it’s time to get festive, deck all the halls, whip up special items in the kitchen (or order from your favorite restaurants), and tackle your holiday shopping lists. For many of us, it’s also time to host family and friends. And for some of us, it will be the first time hosting in our new homes! In many areas across the U.S., the real estate market — both rental and sales — saw unprecedented changes as a result of COVID-19. Millions of Americans (15.9 million, according to USPS change of address data) relocated either permanently or temporarily, with a significant amount moving out of large urban counties and into smaller, more suburban areas.
If you’re one of the many millions of Americans who relocated recently and are now hosting your first holiday in your new home, fear not! We’re here to help.
New Hosting “Rules”
The past few years have been anything but normal when it comes to holidays. This year we find ourselves still navigating headlines of anticipated spikes in COVID-19, flu cases, and the normal germs and viruses that come with the colder months. While there are no longer any stay-at-home orders or formal event guidelines in place, there are still ways to mitigate the spread of germs while hosting a holiday gathering. The most important thing is to determine what steps, if any, you’d like to take and then share them with all invited guests so that everyone is aware and comfortable.
If you prefer to err on the side of caution, a few ideas include:
- Limiting your guest list
- Hosting your event outside if weather and temperatures permit
- Serving guests individually instead of buffets or passed courses
- Opening windows, utilizing fans, or air purifiers
- Asking guests to take a rapid COVID-19 test prior to attending your event
- Encouraging anyone who feels under the weather to stay home (send them a plate!)
Each year it seems as though people decorate earlier and earlier for the winter holidays — some even skipping Thanksgiving decor altogether. It’s a highly debated hot topic, with some decking the halls on November 1st and others giving each holiday its own attention. One of the best parts about hosting your own holiday is that how you decorate is entirely up to you. Do what you want, when you want.
If this is your first time decorating your home for hosting, keep in mind the golden rule: Less is more. Keep it simple, avoid clutter, and wherever possible, choose pieces that have meaning to you.
Each year as the holidays roll around there are new trends that pop up within the hosting space. Think: signature cocktails, ornate place settings, ice-breaker games, or new flavor combinations. This year is no exception, and some of our favorite holiday hosting trends this year include:
Yep, butter boards are exactly what they sound like. Instead of a charcuterie board, a hot new appetizer trend is serving a board covered in butter (or peanut butter, or buttercream) and paired with different toppings and sides for the ultimate taste bud explosion.
Keep It Cozy
Working from home during the pandemic left so many of us reaching for leggings and athleisure instead of business or formalwear. So, instead of making your guests ransack their closets, opt to keep your party comfy and cozy. Lean in to sweats, matching sets, and oversized jumpers so guests can truly relax while in your home. (Bonus points if they wear stretchy pants.)
Engage Your Guests
Whether you do a group craft, play a game, create a TikTok Reel, or swap favorite memories, your guests want to be engaged more than ever before. Think about it — we’re so accustomed to being able to scroll through social media or apps when we are bored or idle, so to avoid guests having their heads down on their smartphones, engage them. It’s fun, and will make for some really great memories and conversation, too.
Ways to Save
There’s no way around it, hosting can be quite expensive. Whether you’re cooking or catering, having a party of 5 or a party of 50, you’re going to have to spend more than usual. But before your budget gets blown, there are definitely ways to save.
A popular way to save (and lessen the burden on a host) is to ask others to bring a dish, dessert, or wine. It’s one less expense, and one less thing to worry about. Another way is to think outside of the box and host a themed event like “appetizers or desserts only,” which can help you avoid having to serve multiple courses and side dishes. Brunch is also always a good idea, and tends to be more cost-effective than dinners.
While shopping, make sure you use any savings that are available including paper coupons, online promo codes, and shopping the sale aisles. A smart shopper is a shopper that saves. If you’re hosting a really large group and feel comfortable, you can also ask guests to chip in. This isn’t unheard of, but may be frowned upon depending on your family and friend dynamics and any precedents that have been set prior.
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