Holiday parties are a great way to create lasting memories with the ones you cherish most, but for party throwers taking on the role of host, these festive get-togethers can cause a great deal of stress. From creating the perfect meal to keeping guests entertained, hosting involves many moving parts.

To help you throw a memorable gathering that involves careful planning and preparation, we’ve turned to the experts at Smithfield Foods. Keep reading to learn five easy tricks that’ll turn your stress levels down a notch and help you have fun along the way.


1. Plan Your Menu Ahead of Time

To save yourself from the last-minute stressor of an overwhelmingly crowded grocery store with limited stock, create a dinner menu several weeks in advance. This not only allows you to find the ingredients you need but also helps you develop a cooking timeline for the big day. Plus, you’ll also be able to spend less time in the kitchen and more time mingling with loved ones.

We recommend a simple, two-ingredient entree, like this delicious hickory smoked spiral sliced ham from Smithfield. Since it requires very little preparation and over two hours of cooking time, you can easily tackle your more involved stuffing and a special dessert.

2. Simplicity is Key (and Less Stressful!)

After a long day of cooking and entertaining, the last thing you want to do is spend hours cleaning up. To help you quickly spruce up your home without having to sacrifice well-needed downtime, it’s best to opt for disposable plates, utensils, napkins and cups. At the end of the night, you won’t have to face a sink piled high with dishes and can focus your time cleaning other areas.

A buffet-style food station also goes hand-in-hand with recyclable serveware. Your family and friends can help themselves as they please throughout the gathering, so you don’t have to plate every serving. Don’t forget about the power of light decorations! By placing inexpensive decor, such as candles, candy canes, ornaments, and coasters in key areas where food and drinks will be served, you can give each space a pop of festive fun.

3. Have Drinks & Appetizers Ready for When Guests Arrive

When hosting a large gathering, it’s important to remember that your entire table spread does not have to be ready prior to your guests' arrival. To keep guests occupied (and out of the kitchen), set pre-made, festive cocktails and eye-catching appetizers around your dining areas. This will keep your guests’ hunger at bay and get the party going.

For some simple appetizer inspiration, look to these adorable Eckrich cheddar dog wreath tartlets. They’re sharable, easy to make and can get your kiddos involved for some extra helping hands.

4. Set the Mood with Festive Tunes

Music is a must no matter the get-together you’re hosting. Creating a holiday-inspired playlist with your favorite songs can be also be a fun way to get guests involved- reach out to your guests several days prior and ask them to add their seasonal favorites into the mix. If you'd prefer to take one thing off your plate, select an already-created playlist from YouTube, Spotify or iTunes.

Hot tip: instrumental versions of holiday classics are a big hit that won’t distract from conversations and can help set a comforting and cheery ambiance.

5. Purchase Compostable Containers for Leftovers

Before your Yuletide celebration concludes, be sure to set aside compostable food containers for your guests. This allows them to feel comfortable to take home their favorite goodies and helps reduce the potential for food waste. If only a few guests choose to take home lunch for the next day, don’t fret. There are many tasty ways to recreate remaining dishes into new meals that your children will love throughout the rest of the week.

Our go-to’s are using leftovers to create a super stuffed hand pie, bite-sized slider, or savory brunch casserole.

In need of more inspiration for your next family meal? Smithfield Foods’ large portfolio of products, including Smithfield® Bacon, Nathan’s Famous® Beef Franks and Eckrich® Smoked Sausage, can meet your household’s needs for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snack time.

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