How to host an HGTV-worthy holiday gathering in Tampa Bay
'Tis the season for more people to crowd into your home.
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.
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.
⏲ 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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