"Put down butcher paper as your tablecloth and encourage friends & family to doodle while they enjoy their holiday meal," says Mendelsohn. "I have two young nieces and they really enjoy a little activity during more formal meals. Sometimes their drawing skills are better than mine, I will happily admit."
"Modern touches," says Post. "Planning a party can be exhausting. Utilize some of the new companies to help out with errands and the usual to-do’s. Task Rabbit is great for the errands you just can’t get to yourself. Have your friends collaborate on a playlist during the party with Spotify. Suggest a car-sharing service for guests to get to and from the party without having to worry about hailing a cab and being late."
"Have seasonal garnishes handy whether its cranberries or rosemary so guests can add them into their festive cocktails," says Mendelsohn.
"The feeling of home without using your own! If you live in a small house or apartment and don’t have room to host (or simply find it daunting to think about preparing your house), it’s easy, and perfectly appropriate, to rent an Airbnb place to host your party without lacking that cozy holiday feel," says Post. "Add your own touches - family photos, flowers – and your guests will feel even more at home. And while it’s not a must, if you really enjoyed the Airbnb listing, leaving a thank-you note or small gift for the host is always a nice gesture!"
"This year, I’m dubbing 2015 the year of the glaze craze," says Mendelsohn." I’ll prep my standard roasted turkey and ham not fussing with them too much, but I’m doing a second version of each and they're both getting glazed up real nice. For the turkey, I’d recommend an apple rosemary glaze or mustard glaze or a pepper jelly glaze. On a ham, I’d recommend trying a blackberry glaze or a peach glaze."
"Extra Guests. If your guests bring extra guests just smile and welcome them in," says Post. "While it was less than polite of your guest to do this, you want to be a gracious host and chances are the extra guests feel a bit odd about crashing. Try to re-portion the food so that everyone can have some and, if need be, task your co-host, family member or a close friend with setting a few extra places at the table. If you’re worried about not having enough food employ “FHB” - Family Hold Back."
"Explore another cuisine's take on classic holiday dishes," says Mendelsohn. "This allows for a fresh approach on what can feel like a repetitive meal and ethnic cuisines are constantly on the rise, particularly in the restaurant scene and what you see on grocery stores shelves. Traditions are of course the best and I can tell you it's hard to stray from what your family members expect to eat at the holidays but invite your pals over for a day after Thanksgiving meal. This gives you a chance to prepare a version of the traditional feast using leftovers inspired by another culture where you and your guests get to learn through food."
"Kids’ table or no kids’ table? The holidays are a great time for kids to practice their manners," says Post. "Having kids at the table with adults is a win-win. The kids get the experience, and an opportunity to showcase their manners, and there are adults seated with them who can help if they have a mishap. Plus, some of the best conversations can result when kids are encouraged to take part in table conversation during the meal."
Chef Spike Mendelsohn and etiquette connoisseur Lizzie Post have expert tips to make your holiday party go off without a hitch.