Host a hassle-free holiday gathering with these smart tips.
* Let the smells of Christmas hit your guests as soon as they arrive. Keep a pot of mulled apple cider on the stove so the first thing you smell is a delightful mixture of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. You can also set up a "potpourri" in a slow-cooker. Toss some sliced oranges, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and allspice berries into some water and leave the slow-cooker uncovered on low.
* Plan in advance for what you'll need over a number of days. Make extra large batches of items like spiced nuts, salad dressing or gingerbread cake to save time later when hosting more informal celebrations.
* Buffets are a great way to manage feeding a crowd. Get as much done as you can the day before and focus on foods that can be eaten at room temperature so you can simply unwrap and serve.
* Whether you're eating at the table or buffet-style, focus on foods such as roasts or casseroles that take a while to cook, but won't require your constant attention in the kitchen.
* Solve your dessert dilemma by asking everyone to bring a batch of their favorite Christmas cookie (or pie or cake or trifle). Your guests can show off their best recipes and everyone will enjoy the variety.
Source: Food Network