Hosting a fabulous Christmas dinner party is a wonderful way to connect with your girlfriends……AFTER Christmas. For several years I hosted a friendly lady’s dinner party each year after the Christmas hubbub settled down. It would be a night for just hanging out with my good gal friends, eating a delicious meal and relaxing after the crazy holiday. I so miss this event as I have now moved south, but I still have all the go to suggestions on how to pull off the perfect dinner party.
Mid-Life Goddess rule # 9 (here) states “A Goddess lives to Entertain and be Entertained!” Being a Hostess with the “Mostest” is a Mid-Life Goddess mantra.
I started out trying to schedule this before Christmas each year. Several of my friends are teachers so I would arrange it to be either the last day of school before holiday break or the day after. It soon began to be like herding cats to get all the ladies on a date that worked — hence the move to after Christmas. Really, what do you have scheduled the week after Christmas? Nothing until New Year’s Eve so it is perfect!
I just love a formal invitation and that is exactly what I did each year. When I put the list together (usually 8 or 9 ladies), I would assign each darling a specific dish to bring. You know who can cook and who is better to bring the “rolls” from the fresh bakery, if you know what I mean. As the hostess, you make the main course and theme the side dishes they each bring to coordinate around that main dish.
Hostess Tip: For fun add a “surprise guest” to the invitation list. Maybe a lady that has been away from town a while. It will spice up the party and give everyone a chance to catch up with our honored invitee.
Prepare an extra special main dish — like a juicy Prime Rib or an extravagant Steak presentation. You want to make sure to give your guests a main course that is a special treat! Cover all the basics for the ladies to bring: Appetizer, Salad, Potato, Bread, Vegetable, and a couple of Desserts. Nobody ever really eats dessert anymore so give them lots to choose from on their night out!
If you have the budget, hire a local Chef to prepare your meal. After Christmas, those culinary experts are usually much more available. Maybe seek out a “Chef in Training” from the local culinary school. This will really free you up to enjoy your darling friends and a gourmet spread to boot.
Plan a specialty drink for the evening — I set out Oprah’s Pomegranate Martini one year and it was a hit!
Make sure you have a well stocked wine fridge for the dinner and beer if there are others who don’t like wine. Cover the basics and set up your bar with the festive theme as well.
What a wonderful time to get those wacky Christmas outfits out of the closet! Spice up your party with a festive dress or maybe an ugly sweater? I opt for this fun Christmas ornament skirt — and it lights up to boot!
Secret Staging Station
I set out all of the dishes needed throughout the dinner evening in my pantry. Don’t judge that I use my washing machine for to set out what will be needed for the dinner table. It’s out of the way when guests arrive and keeps you on task and not searching your cabinets while everyone is enjoying their happy hour drinks.
The Arrival of Goddesses!
When the ladies arrive, have the signature drink in their hand after you take their coat. Plan to give the ladies some time to catch up and chat for an hour or two before dinner is served. Make sure you have a beautiful cheese plate in the center of your gathering space in case the appetizer lady is the last to get to the party.
Whole Foods is having a “12 Days of Cheese” deal in December with 50% off the perfect cheeses for this plate each day. This is where I get all of my bulk pecans and nuts for the perfect “something crunchy” as well. If you are an Amazon Prime member (here) you get an additional 10% off!
Of course, the table is a center piece for your holiday party! This is the perfect opportunity to get out all those fabulous Christmas plates, napkins, napkin rings and beautiful crystal glasses and silver! Make it as festive as possible! The table setting is actually the most fun of your pre-party set up.
I always put out name tags — mix it up so that the ladies are sitting next to someone new and not their BFF. That will make their conversations more interesting by finding out new tidbits with someone they don’t talk to every day. Set out small gift boxes on their plates with a memento from the evening like a beautiful ornament, if you are so inclined.
Hostess Tip: Set out two sets of salt and pepper mills, butter and sour cream bowls. Place one set at each end of the table so there is less passing and everyone has these within their reach.
The Main Event — Dinner time
As the Christmas Dinner is the highlight of the evening, make it gorgeous and comfortable. You will want to have some soft easy listening Christmas music playing for ambiance.
Prime Rib is a perfect main course to serve as it in the oven all afternoon — then just a 20 minute “rest” while everyone is finding their seats. Use a crock pot meal like my “Slow Cooked BBQ Ribs” (here). That gives you more time to participate in the “happy hour” without being chained to the stove. Once it is time for dinner, your entree’ will be an easy 10 minute prep to get to the table.
Hostess Tip: As the hostess, make sure you are seated closest to the kitchen for easy access if needed. Also — if you are going to serve baked potatoes — make sure they are medium sized spuds. No one wants an under-cooked monster baked potato!
Dessert should be decadent. The guests who bring dessert will surely have something Christmassy and beautiful. Add a specialty from a local restaurant to complete the dessert table. This strawberry cheesecake from Kitchen 919 in Knoxville is delicious. Don’t worry about calories! Those calories will be addressed on New Year’s day.
The After Dinner Party
Once dessert has been thoroughly enjoyed, move everyone to the living room for the after party. Leave the dishes! Don’t waste the time to clean up when you only get to see these wonderful people a few times a year. You can do the clean up in the morning. (Or, if you are lucky like me, my husband always started the clean up with the first load into the dishwasher while the ladies and I are chatting in the other room.)
The Gift Game
Have your guests bring a gift to pass. I always suggest they bring something that you want to keep for yourself! That way all the fabulous gifts work for any of the ladies. Check out my gift guide for that midlife girl you adore (here).
Make it a game — draw names, go in a circle, whatever works for your group. Our Gift game was that each lady pick a gift to open one at at time. As we went around the group — they could “steal” someone else’s gift when it was their turn to open or pick one unopened. There was always that one gift that EVERYONE wanted — so the lucky last Goddess got that prize!
All good things come to an end — sadface. Wrap up the evening with a final snack like popcorn or cookies to go and serve some coffee or hot cocoa.
Say your goodbyes and promise to do it all again next year! My husband was always on standby as a designated driver if any ladies over imbibed of the signature cocktail. Safety first Ladies!
Enjoy your time with your friends and remember the reason for the season. God Bless you all!