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Everything You Need to Host the Perfect Holiday Dinner

Hosting a holiday dinner and overwhelmed by what you need to prepare? Don’t worry— we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you’ll need to save for.
Family dinner for the holidays

The holidays are getting closer, so it’s time to start planning the annual holiday dinner party. For lots of people, holiday parties are the best part of the season; after all, what’s more fun than inviting your friends and family over for food, drink, and good conversation?

However, you might be feeling a little nervous if this is your first time hosting a holiday dinner party. Dinners of this size aren’t the easiest to cook, and it’s important to add a festive feel to the party with decorations.

Despite this, it doesn’t have to be an overly expensive event—and you don’t need to spend four days cooking food in preparation! You can throw a fantastic, festive dinner party without too much hassle if you buy the right things.

If you’re hosting this year and you’re not sure what you need, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything that you need.

Make a buffet

Holiday dinners are notoriously difficult and expensive meals to cook, but you can save time and money by arranging a buffet. You can buy a pre-made buffet for your dinner, which means you save a lot of time, but they’re often expensive. We recommend buying food that’s easy to make for your buffet, such as stuffing, roasted veggies, and mashed potatoes. That way, guests can serve themselves and you still save time—time that can be used to finish preparing the desserts in the kitchen!

It can be easy to get swept up by the idea of cooking a Pinterest-worthy dinner with stuffing shaped like stars, but this can become a difficult and time-consuming task. Just let the food do the talking!

Buffet
$100

Buy a turkey

If you haven’t already, now is the time to put in an order for a turkey. They sell out surprisingly quickly, and you don’t want to be the host who didn’t serve a turkey for dinner. Before you make the order, think about how many people you’re feeding. Do you need a giant turkey that will take a day to cook, or can you buy something smaller?

Once you’ve made the order, it’s time to start planning when you will stuff and cook it. We recommend stuffing the turkey the day before the party—that way, you don’t have too much to do on the day of the party.

Turkey
$40

Pre-prepare drinks and food

There are lots of things that you can do in advance to save time on the day of the dinner. One of the best ways to save time is to prepare and cook some of the food and drinks the day before; then you can leave them in the fridge or freezer overnight.

Some food tastes better when it’s freshly cooked, but sauces often taste better after a night in the fridge. You can pre-prepare bread sauce and cranberry sauce and freeze them, and they’ll taste just as good. You can also pre-mix your cocktails and put them in the fridge; they’ll taste great the next day, and you won’t have to spend time mixing the drinks up.

Cocktail mix and food
$100

Make easy-to-prepare appetizers

Appetizers aren’t the main part of the meal, but they often take the longest to prepare. If you want to go all out and make fancy snacks like hand-stuffed olives and fondue, prepare the majority of the food the day before so it doesn’t take up all of your time. However, we recommend buying easy-to-prepare appetizers, such as cheese and crackers. They’ll go down well with the guests, and they don’t take long to prepare.

Appetizers
$50

Don’t forget the trimmings

Holiday dinners come with lots of trimmings, but it’s easy to forget about them when you’re doing the food shopping for the party. Make sure you get all of the extras, including cranberry sauce for the turkey, mustard for ham, mint sauce for lamb, and applesauce for pork. You probably won’t get all of the meat options, but make sure you get the right sauces.

Trimmings
$50

Make your own table decorations

Your dinner party should look festive, but you don’t need to spend lots of money on decorations. You can use cheap items like holly leaves, baubles, fairy lights, and branches to make the table look amazing—you can even arrange them as a beautiful centerpiece for your dinner.

Table decorations
$100

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