Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but hosting guests over the festive period can also make it the most stressful time. However, with these fail-safe Christmas hosting tips, it doesn’t have to be.
To guarantee a day that runs as seamlessly as possible, it’s best to be prepared well in advance with any Christmas party ideas and adopt a few handy hacks to keep stress at bay.
Whether you have family and friends staying all week or just visiting for the big day, these handy hacks from the w&h team will alleviate the stress of hosting and ensure everything runs smoothly.
13 essential Christmas hosting tips
“The key to hosting Christmas is the organisation,” says Sarah Joan Ross w&h’s Editor-in-Chief. “I always ensure the glasses are sparkling and platters and plates are out and ready, so you’re not panicking at the last minute when people are flooding through the door.”
These are the other savvy ways the w&h team stay organised when hosting Christmas…
1. Create a schedule
Like preparing a Sunday roast, cooking Christmas dinner is all about the timing. Creating a schedule ensures you stay on track with what to cook and when.
“Making a cooking schedule for the day of Christmas and a couple of days run-up to make sure I precook/par-cook as much as possible in advance,” says w&h’s digital beauty editor Aleesha Badkar. “Also have a clear to-do list for the day so that you don’t get overwhelmed and also so everything is prepared on time. Plus it means that you can have more time for all the fun bits on Christmas day.”
Aleesha is Digital Beauty Editor at woman&home, where she gets to share her expertise into all the best techniques, sharpest tools and newest products – with a particular savvy in skincare and fragrance. With years of beauty product testing experience, she always knows what to recommend.
2. Air fry the perfect pre-cooked potatoes
“Last year, like Aleesha, I prepped 90% of my Christmas dinner before the big day,” says Millie Fender, w&h’s head of E-commerce. “The biggest revelation to me was the roast potatoes, which came out crispier than ever when I used my beloved best air fryer.”
“I par-boiled them the day before, tossed them in some goose fat and seasonings and left them to cool in the fridge overnight. Then I simply had to pop them in my Instant Vortex (the best air fryer I’ve tried for perfect roasties) to crisp up for 40 minutes.”
“It’s a foolproof method that I learned from Millie Simpson, a chef and kitchen manager at Michel Roux Jr’s Sauce by The Langham. So basically, it’s a Michelin-starred Christmas dinner tip. You’re welcome!”
Millie Fender is Head of E-commerce at Woman&Home and was formerly Head of Reviews across several of Future Plc’s leading home titles such as Ideal Home and Homes&Gardens. As our head of all things shopping, Millie is committed to giving readers honest, expert advice when spending their hard-earned cash.
3. Keep the fridge well stocked
Christmas is the time to keep the fridge well-stocked in more ways than one. While it’s best to avoid overloading the fridge and restrict airflow it seems like an impossible task, but what you can do is ensure you know how to organise a fridge for maximum efficiency.
“The top shelf is the least cold section of the fridge, making it suitable for storing foods that don’t need to be super chilled, perfect for any pre-cooked and cured foods like deli meats that would make a delicious charcuterie board,” explains Salah Sun, head of product management at Beko.
“Use the middle section of your fridge for dairy products, ready-to-eat foods Christmas leftovers, and, if the fridge isn’t too full already, then chilled drinks and festive fizz and wines also look great on this shelf.”
“The bottom shelf is the coldest part of the fridge, meaning any food placed here will be super fresh, therefore ideal for meat, fish, and dairy products.”
4. Fashion your own DIY Cooler
Tis the season for savvy storage ideas and our content director Lucy Searle has one of the best for housing extra food when it won’t all fit in the fridge.
“I never have enough room in my fridge for everything I need cold, so I dig out a large lidded plastic storage box I have in the loft, empty it (temporarily) of whatever I’m currently keeping in it and put it outside,” says Lucy.
“I then use it to store anything that doesn’t need to be kept fridge-cold but which might go off if kept in a warm kitchen, from fruit and veg to booze and mince pies. Obviously, the lid is lockable to keep the foxes out…”
All the same, it might be worth checking out how to stop foxes coming into your garden to avoid the temptation to even explore. Once the day is over you simply give the box a quick rinse and use it once again to help declutter the loft.
Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens for over 30 years, starting within the interiors departments of women’s magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-1990s. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global editor-in-chief for Realhomes.com; in 2020, Lucy repeated the success at Homes & Gardens, where she also took on the editorship of the magazine. Lucy is now Content Director across Homes & Gardens, Woman & Home, Real Homes and Ideal Home.
5. Clear closet space
After taking the time and making the effort of styling your hallway for Christmas the last thing you want is to let the decor down with a pile of coats and shoes the minute your guests arrive. To ensure you can immediately hide coats, shoes, scarves, and umbrellas from view be sure to clear adequate closet space.
Before your guests arrive remove a large section of coats and relocate them temporarily to an upstairs wardrobe out of the year to be ready for when you need to hang items directly once they are removed at the door.
6. Lay the table the day before
Relieve the stress of frantically trying to dress the table while juggling cooking and greeting early guests – because that always happens. Get your table ready the night before so you have one less task to do on the day.
Lay the tablecloth, set out the place settings, add table runners and stage your Christmas centrepiece idea so that you are ready to go on Christmas Day, without having to worry about any table prep.
7. Steam clean cutlery and glasses
When I was younger I worked in a restaurant synonymous with fine dining called Smith’s Brasserie where I served many a prestigious dinner, including David and Victoria Beckham and Lord Alan Sugar. Because of the restaurant’s quality and clientele, our standards of service always had to be impeccable. One pre-dinner job that I learnt and still do to this day when hosting dinner is to steam clean the silverware and glassware to ensure sparkling results.
Despite glasses or cutlery being fresh from the dishwasher there are always marks, be it fingerprints or watermarks so it always pays to give them a steam and wipe before using.
To do this, simply take a large bowl of water which is hot enough to produce steam and hold the glass over it until it’s suitably foggy. Take a lint-free cloth and buff the glass until it is dry and gleaming with a perfect clean sheen.
8. Prepare the wine by decanting
“I always do a big wine shop for Christmas, choosing certain bottles for each course, meal or occasion over Christmas but I also like to make sure I’m serving each of my wines in its optimum condition,” explains Aleesha. “However, as I also do most of the cooking I can’t always open each bottle of wine at the right time for it to breathe. So I swear by decanting wine when hosting.”
“The process aerates the wine as you pour meaning that I can just open and serve and not have to worry about wine timings as well as oven timings.”
“Plus it looks fabulous on the dinner table so really makes an impression. But my favourite thing about it has to be the preserving function. Not that there’s ever much wine left.”
9. Use safe candles
Nothing beats candlelight for creating an ambience when hosting Christmas, but candles are not often the safest solution for dining tables during family festivities.
Our Editor-in-Chief Sarah swears by the best flameless candles, saying: “We’ve got to an age where our circle of friends now come with children and dogs – I opt for flameless candles for safety – they still give a nice ambience, but not having to call emergency services is always preferable when throwing a party.”
TruGlo Votive LED Candles
£19.99 set of 4 | These compact votive candles are the ideal size to incorporate into table centrepieces, while a handy timer function allows you to set them to automatically switch on for six hours each day.
TruGlow LED 3 Wick Winter Candle at Lights4Fun
£29.99 | The dried seasonal fruit adds an artisan vibe to this wintery design and helps to make it look just like the real deal in terms of a candle aesthetic. The unique TruGlow® candles combine real wax and innovative technology to perfectly mimic the look of real candles.
TruGlow Battery LED Flameless Pillar Candles
This set of 3 Lights4fun pillar candles features real wax to create three thoroughly realistic looking pillar candles. The assorted sizes offers varying heights to add interest to tablescaping themes or to gently frame a mantlepiece.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Sarah Joan Ross has over 20 years of experience in testing beauty launches, having started her career at ELLE, where she tested the latest beauty launches (by the sack load) and was frequently found up to her elbows in oils and lotions and road-testing new colours and cosmetics.
10. Don’t be afraid to accept help
Sometimes, even with the best plans in place hosting can feel overwhelming. Because your guests all know this, from hosting their own soirees, they will inevitably offer to help at some point – and a top tip is to let them.
Not only will their help be hugely valuable it also includes them and gives them a sense of purpose on the day, which for some is welcomed.
11. Make your guest rooms feel festive
It’s always nice to style a guest bedroom ready for Christmas to make it feel extra special. “Styling a bedroom for someone you know is a great opportunity to create a personalised experience as you’ll hopefully know what they like,” says w&h’s contributing interior stylist Claire Douglas. “If they are fans of Christmas decor, you could add some festive decorations around the room, like perhaps even a tiny Christmas tree.
I recommend sticking to subtle and pared-back festive touches for styling your guest bedroom, like a small bud vase of festive foliage on the bedside table alongside a festive bowl of their favourite chocolates. A few considered details are the first step to making a guest bedroom feel like a luxury hotel.
Claire is a DIY and home interior writer specialising in budget room transformations, creative DIY projects, and resourceful home styling. Claire runs the popular home interiors blog ClaireDouglasStyling and shares all her DIY tips, tricks, and behind-the-scenes styling insights on her Instagram account. When she’s not writing for w&h, Claire enjoys foraging for flowers and foliage and experimenting with interesting materials and decorating techniques to incorporate into future interior schemes.
12. Share your finest products
Whether it’s the ‘only for best’ Aesop hand soap you’ve been saving or an expensive shampoo set, Christmas is the time to bring out the big guns.
“For me, a fancy hand soap is a must,” says Aleesha. “I think it’s just a lovely little indulgence to treat my guests to – visiting the bathroom to be met with a beautiful glass bottle that leaves your hands smelling delicious all night. Anything in a pretty bottle (bonus points for earthy or monochromatic colours) packed with botanicals gets a yes from me.”
Aleesha’s top picks would be:
Diptyque Eau Des Sent Hand and body Wash
£40 | When mixed with to water this cleansing hand and body gel becomes a cleansing foam. With the perfect balance between citrus and floral notes, this distinctively fragranced product from Diptyque awakens the senses.
Cedarwood Active-Hydrate Hand Wash
£25 | With hyaluronic acid to hydrate whilst you wash this product leaves hands looking smoother, feeling softer, and refreshed by Gloved’s signature restorative woody scent.
13. Have the WIFI code handy
Whether you have gaming teenagers or older relatives with a penchant for Facebook you will undoubtedly be asked multiple times for the WIFI password, so a top tip is to have it to hand.
You could even write it out on a chalkboard or letter memo board to have on display in the kitchen so your guests don’t feel too rude to ask while you’re busy with hosting duties.
A helpful tip that comes from everyone on the team is to take a brief pause to relax before your guests arrive. Make a cuppa or a coffee and sit for five minutes by yourself to prepare for the festivities that are to come.
Most importantly, remember to enjoy the festivities and not lose sight of the fact that you are spending quality time with loved ones.