The How-Tos Of Hosting: Christmas Prep

Gina Affonso Smith-Marquez

Hosting an event at any time of the year can be stressful if not properly planned; add all the Christmas gatherings and end of year functions that you may need to attend, and the holiday season can become quite overwhelming! Being overwhelmed is not what the Christmas season is about; Christmas is about time spent with loved ones whether they be family or friends. If you’re hosting an event for Christmas, this should be the main focus.

The Date

Planning is essential in ensuring that you have a stress-free holiday season. Make sure to set your date for your Christmas event at least six weeks in advance. People tend to have the most social engagements close to the end of the year, so letting your guests know well in advance when you intend to host them gives them ample time to include your event in their crazy holiday schedule.


Determine your budget from as early as possible as this would dictate the type of event you would like to have— a sit down dinner, a cocktail party, Christmas brunch or lunch. Your budget and the type of event that your are planning will influence both your decor and menu. Remember, hospitality is not about how much you spend but should focus on making guests feel welcome and creating memories with friends and family.


Ensure that you create a Christmas music playlist that encompasses all types of Christmas music, from fun Christmas carols for the children to the classics for your more mature guests as well as some lively parang music that everyone can enjoy. Even though your playlist will be playing in the background it sets the tone for the season and your event and is a crucial component that should not be forgotten.

The Menu

Do not over complicate your menu, keep it simple with the basics such as pastelles, Christmas ham and turkey. Host a potluck event where each guest brings a dish or an appetizer to share. Set a menu and ask guests which item they would like to bring so as to avoid too much of any one item. This places less stress on the host or hostess and gets everyone involved. It also allows your guests to showcase their cooking skills. Most people have a signature dish or family tradition that they do very well and would love to share with others. If you’re preparing the turkey and ham, do so the day before and slice it a few hours before the event—this way you won’t be rushing on the day itself. Preparing food beforehand allows event day to be less stressful as alternative plans can be made if something doesn’t go according to plan.

If children are invited, make sure that you cater for them because a happy child means happy parents which means a good time. Also, confirm your guests’ dietary needs whether it be gluten-free, vegan or otherwise. Ensure that your menu includes something for everyone.


Keep your decor simple, decorate in high traffic areas such as the entrance to your home, your kitchen and living room. Less is sometimes more, add some simple festive touches to your table using Christmas colours such as red, green or gold which may be accented by white. Your Christmas tree is also a great focal point for your guests.


Whether you’re serving alcohol or not, make sure to have Christmas staples such as sorrel, ponche de crème and ginger beer for your guests. A Christmas-themed sangria for your guests in a large glass dispenser is a lovely added touch—it also looks pretty festive and adds to your decor. Sparkling juice is always an exciting beverage option for the little ones as they pretend that they are drinking champagne and feel included in the festivities.


Encourage holiday laughter and cheer by planning a few games for your event. You can also plan a gift exchange among your guests with a reasonable budget. This takes the pressure off of you and your guests that often comes with Christmas time gift exchanges. You don't want to be the person who doesn't have a gift for someone even though they brough one for you. This essentially avoids those awkward moments for everyone.

White elephant is the perfect combination of a game and a gift exchange. This twist allows guests to open one gift from the communal gift table with the option of either keeping or stealing another guest’s. Each guest gets two opportunities to steal a gift after which, the game ends and everyone is hopefully happy with the gift they ended up with.

Consider having a cookie decorating competition for both children and adults with a prize for the most festive cookies. This allows your younger guests to also be part of the merriment.

Cater for the end

Finally, consider stocking up on take-away containers so that your guests can carry home dishes that they truly enjoyed. Guests don’t only delight in this but, it also saves you from trying to pack a mountain of food in what is most likely an already very filled fridge.

Keep cleanup to a minimum with recyclable plates, cups and cutlery and disposable foil tray for serving. After all, who wants to spend time washing a sink full of dishes during such a hectic time?

Remember Trini Christmas is the best, so keep your planning simple and most importantly, do not stress. Happy hosting!!!

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