A Millennial’s Guide to Hosting for the Holidays

We made it. We made it through our first hosting experience ever over Thanksgiving. I may have a few knife wounds and a new found hatred for ironing Crate and Barrel napkins, but I’m here in one piece. I learned a lot in the process. So here is a millennial’s guide to hosting for the holidays. One holiday down, one to go…

A Millennial's Guide to Hosting for the Holidays

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed

At first, it can feel super exciting to host a huge dinner, especially if it’s your first time! Then, the overwhelming feeling of anxiety usually creeps in. Do I have enough room? What will I cook? What ingredients do I need? Where will I find the time to clean and get my life together? These are all normal questions! And no, you won’t find the time to get your life together. Trust me. At this point, it’s best to start making a list of all the things you need to accomplish and start delegating tasks. Don’t go at everything alone.

It’s normal to want to buy shit

After the overwhelming feeling leaves and you’ve delegated the tasks to other people (mom, pissed off boyfriend, crazy aunt, etc.), it’s time to think about what you’re going to need. Before we hosted, we upgraded to a huge dining room table found here on CB2. Now, not everyone has the ability to upgrade on a whim, but we were personally due. Focus more on the little things. Upgrade to cotton napkins from paper towels and consider some new wine glasses. All the little details are what make the meal special!

It’s normal to let your soul die a little while ironing napkins

If you buy cotton napkins, be prepared to iron them and wonder what your life has come to. In that order.

A Millennial's Guide to Hosting for the Holidays

It’s normal to need a coffee before you accept relatives into your home

May I suggest La Colombe’s new canned latte? 100% guaranteed to make you forget about any comments relating to your lack of children, career, politics, and choice of couch pillows. On a serious note, it’s really good coffee!

It’s normal to feel like not everything turned out perfectly

You’ve made the food, you’ve delegated, you’ve spent money on decorations, furniture, and overpriced napkins, and you’ve even watched a YouTube video on how to properly set a table. When it’s all said and done, nothing ever goes as planned. Don’t feel bad when grandma and grandpa are still fighting over the last turkey leg, or the entire experience has come and gone too fast. Even if you don’t have the perfect furniture, the gathering of family and friends is all that matters.

A Millennial's Guide to Hosting for the Holidays

It’s normal to get a little tipsy on your big day

I mean you ironed napkins goddammit. That deserves a glass of wine, or three. Note: always be prepared to provide your guests with garnishes for their drinks. For example, people go batshit crazy over a good gin with a garnish of grapefruit and rosemary. You’ll seem super fancy and impressive as a host. Then, get drunk and bask in your impressiveness, totally avoiding the last thing I was saying.

It’s normal to forget about candles

Candles go overlooked. I’m sorry, but they do. Everyone loves a good scented candle. Select a few nice candles and have them lit before everyone arrives. I used this one.

A Millennial's Guide to Hosting for the Holidays

A Millennial's Guide to Hosting for the Holidays

It’s normal to slave drive your Echo

Sorry, Alexa. But grandpa thinks you’re fun and fascinating. However, a little music during dinner never hurt. The mark of a great host! I played Frank Sinatra. Choose something that everyone will enjoy, and do beware of the ‘Thanksgiving Drive’ playlist on Spotify unless your family is keen on ‘Go Flex’ by Post Malone.

It’s normal for other people to clean up

This is by far the best part of hosting. Everyone fakes feeling bad for you and offers to clean up and do the dishes. Do not take this offer lightly. Jump at the offer! If you hesitate, the offer will be rescinded quickly. At this point you can finally relax and pat yourself on the back, because you made it through hosting for the holidays!

I hope you found this helpful, and, well, lighthearted and a little funny. My first experience with hosting was a definite success, and I cannot wait to do it again!

Have you ever hosted for the holidays?


  1. my boyfriend’s sisters and family friends pair up together to cook a dish! i’ve never been to one before (he’s in toronto and i’m in new york) but it seems like a lot of fun, plus he doesn’t have to worry about preparing anything too much! all the adults seem to have their shit together when it comes to parties, hahaha.

    becky @ star violet

  2. Your table looks beautiful, Emily! I can imagine that hosting can get a bit stressful for the first time, but these are great reminders to help everything go smoothly. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

    Kathryn • simplykk.com

  3. Congratulations, you guys did it! These are such great reminders, especially the one about getting tipsy. I would 100% need a cocktail in hand if I was hosting my family, so I’m right there with you.

  4. You are too funny – it’s normal to let your soul die ironing napkins…
    I mean yes it is normal to feel that way but not normal to actually want to iron cotton napkins.
    I don’t iron anything. I buy dry clean only stuff or stretchy cotton and hang after washing.
    This made me laugh and reminded me that my grandmother used to iron absolutely everything – even the underwear!
    Set to Glow

  5. These are some fabulous tips! That said though, the idea of ironing napkins makes me want to cry a little inside! I’ll be honest, I’m more than happy at taking advantage of someone else’s hosting skills at Christmas although I know I shouldn’t get too used to this…my time will come!

    Musings & More

  6. I love the idea of hosting family for the holidays, but honestly I might end up smashing plates (amongst other things) in the process because it just sounds like a lot of stress + work, haha As a result I’ve never actually done it, and probably won’t do it anytime soon, and I think I’ll definitely avoid cloth napkins for now!

    Jenny | Geeky Posh

  7. This is a great guide! I hosted Christmas dinner with my mother last year and it was very hectic but lots of fun as well. The key is to enjoy the event and don’t let little things ruin the fun 🙂 x

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

  8. I think booze goes hand in hand with events like these. More so if you’re hosting. I’m still between places (hoping I’ll miraculously find one before Xmas, but it’s like December already…) and was hoping to host for Xmas Eve this year. Yeah, HUGE long shot but it’s been something I’ve been yearning to do for years now. Even though I’ll probably regret it on the actual day hahaha.


  9. hahahaha I loved this so much!! “it’s normal to let your soul die ironing napkins” HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAA

    I haven’t hosted for the holidays because our condo is too small and my hubby’s family is too big, but we hosted a smaller dinner party for his dad’s birthday at the beginning of November and it was fun! I love hosting! It can be stressful and I put unnecessary pressure on myself but it’s okay, I know it takes practice to master the art of hosting!


  10. So sorry to hear about your battle scars from the knife but congratulations on hosting Thanksgiving! These are really great tips – especially feeling overwhelmed. It is what it is, right? The holidays are a crazy time.

    cabin twenty-four

  11. Ahh so it’s true – I heard cotton napkins always need to be ironed throughly beforehand (I’m looking at buying my own linens for our wedding). That sucks! But I’m sure all the effort was worth it, right? I love your cups!

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