Tabb Tips: Holiday Hosting at home in Harlem

by Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Tip 1 – Prep Ahead

If the devil is in the details, then god is in the prep! Half of my cooking is done the night before any event. The chopping, peeling, washing and most of the baking is done on the holiday eve. Check your list (see tip 2) and get the simple stuff out of the way. Also, consider cooking burners, oven space and baking times.

Tip 2 – Make a list

I’m a VIRGO so I can not stress this enough. I make all sorts of lists when party planning. A guest list, a SHOPPING LIST, a list of things to do that don’t involve cooking and a list of things to cook in ORDER.

Tip 3 – Style your table

Styling your table doesn’t have to be expensive and you can get creative. It’s less about the theme of the event but more about creating a feeling that ties into the food. It could be as simple as picking a color to focus on or picking an accent to design around. Start with tablecloths, candles, and colored napkins.

Tip 4 – Clean while you cook

I live in NYC, though my kitchen is larger than most – the pots and pans stack up quickly. I try to keep a bowl of soapy water in the sink when I’m not using it to quick wash or rinse utensils and pots and pans. Items that I won’t use again I neatly stack in the dishwasher.

Tip 5 – Save your takeout containers

I don’t eat out often, but each year I accumulate an impressive amount of throwaway plastic containers. These come in handy for doggy bags for your guests as well as small portion leftovers.

Tip 6 – REFILL- napkins (and ice)

I can’t stress the importance of an abundance of napkins. Again, the dollar store is good enough. For the meal, I actually use large cotton napkins for my guests. Since I don’t use an actual table for place seatings it’s nice for guests to throw them over their laps. Ice is cheap, better to have more than you need than not enough. No one likes warm egg nog! EASY HOSTING MATH: 1 pound of ice per guest. 4 paper napkins per guest. 1 drink per guest per hour.

Tip 7 – Provide a selection of beverages

My guests LOVE my homemade egg nog. Who knew!? Last year I ran out as I usually provide it as a novelty. Provide a selection, equal parts, soda or juice for those that don’t drink. A simple white and red wine for cheers-ing, and of course plenty of water. P.S. I always keep a nice bourbon for celebratory shots to end the night.

Tip 8 – Plate your Platters

As you finish your dishes, plate them and cover with foil so you can quickly warm them when guests arrive.

Tip 9 – Provide a playlist

Your party needs a soundtrack! Generally, I play what I like to listen to – festive but bluesy music to set the tone for dinner. I’ve learned that this isn’t everyone’s preference so I let the guests take over the Amazon tap after dinner. Guests should be mingling and chatting too much to care about the music before dinner anyway.

Tip 10 – Have something for everyone

Consider, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options based on your guest list.

Tip 11 – Make sure you have enough seating

The holidays are a time to be surrounded by family and friends but no one needs to be right on top of each other. Consider your guest list and how many you can sit comfortably while eating. I invested in a few simple stools, which can be used for seating or individual mini tables.

BONUS* Buy plenty of CHEAP foil – Go to the dollar store and stock up. You will use countless rolls before the day is over and it’s better to have more than less.

After 6 years of hosting this is the best list I can offer. These are tips I actually use and that help me not freak out during holiday planning.




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