How to host like a pro this party season

Avoid the stress of hosting this festive season with these dinner party tips from beloved Australian home cook Lyndey Milan.

Preparation is key
Christmas entertaining isn’t only about the day itself. There’s a lot of preparation in the lead-up, and the more you can do in advance, the better. This will give you more time with your guests, decreases stress on the day, and help avoid last minute cooking crises. Canapés or starters are perfect for pre-preparation, as well as baked goods and desserts.

For dishes that need to be cooked on the day, start preparing earlier than you think you need to — this leaves plenty of time to run to the shops or improvise forgotten ingredients. I recommend chopping, dicing, and grating anything you can in advance, so that you only need to combine and cook — this also creates a mess-free space to save time cleaning up.

Write lists
I am the queen of lists — a shopping list, divided up into categories for ease of shopping, and a to-do list with timings, stuck on the fridge. They help every time.

Share the load
In my family, we all pitch in. We have a big extended family and love to invite “waifs and strays” or anyone with nowhere to go, so depending on who’s in town, we can have up to 28 people.

We agree on who will do what and then the load on Christmas Day is not arduous for any one person. We love it — the planning, the preparation, and the togetherness.

Create a music playlist
Music can set the tone of an event, as well as lift and shift the mood from the beginning. Take some time to create or find the perfect playlist, and start playing your tunes before guests arrive to help you relax and warm-up to hosting.

Remember to be mindful of the volume, as loud music can make conversations difficult between guests, especially those who may be meeting for the first time.

Focus on welcoming, not cooking
It is really important to make sure your guests feel welcome, and this is tricky if you dash off to the kitchen, leaving them lingering awkwardly upon arrival.

Utilise the appliances you have! I use my Philips Airfryer XXL, which has a “keep warm” function, so I can finish cooking with enough time to get dressed, touch-up my make-up, and welcome guests — and still have fresh, warm food ready to serve.

Relax and have fun
If you are feeling stressed, uncomfortable, or nervous, that energy will be felt by your guests. It’s important for a host to be warm and friendly to ensure their guests feel welcome and relaxed, so leave the stress at the door and enjoy your own party!

What are your plans for Christmas gatherings?

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