Nov 4, 2023 - Real Estate

How to host an HGTV-worthy holiday gathering in Tampa Bay

Photo: Courtesy of Mike Radford (Michael Radford Photography)

'Tis the season for more people to crowd into your home.

Why it matters: The holidays can bring added stress, and planning is key to easing it (sorry, procrastinators).

What they're saying: When it comes to food, keep it simple, says Jessica Ralph, owner of Largo-based Parties A La Carte.

  • For example: If you're making cookies, pick two recipes instead of 10.

Yes, but: Place settings can be more sophisticated: Include layers and textures to make things pop, an incorporated charger, dinner plate and salad plate, Ralph says.

  • Pro tip: You can rent tableware from Treasury Rentals in Lakeland if you don't have those on hand.

Thoughtful touch: Every Christmas, Ralph engraves the year into ornaments for her guests, and uses it as their seating place cards.

Holiday tablescape by Jessica Ralph. Photo: Photography by Avery

Expert advice: HGTV's Jasmine Roth designs thoughtful spaces for a living and is no stranger to a themed tablescape, so we asked her how to be a host extraordinaire.

Here's what she says.

🛏 Be a guest in your own home. If you have a guest room, stay in it for a night before everyone arrives. You might realize you need a phone charger, hooks for towels or a warmer blanket.

📱 Include guests in the plans. Fire up the group chat sooner rather than later to coordinate schedules. Closer to the event, share menu ideas and start a shared grocery list. Guests can add snack requests, or volunteer to take charge of one meal if they're staying an extended period of time.

🌲 Decorate with foliage. Opt for branches instead of flower arrangements for a trendy, fuss-free tablescape. Add cloth napkins and taper candles to elevate things a touch.

⏲ Cook ahead of time. Pick menu items like make-ahead taquitos or a hearty soup that can easily be warmed in the oven or thrown on the grill so you can enjoy your party. Pre-make a signature cocktail and an easy appetizer that you can set out right before guests arrive.

🖍 Have a kids' activity. You can set up a coloring station at the kids' table, or hand each little one a goody bag. Parents will be relieved, and the kids will be entertained.

🥡 Make to-go boxes. Get some themed Tupperware and pack up leftovers for guests to take home.


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