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Your holiday dinner checklist

Has your dining room been getting a workout this month with brunches, lunches, and dinners? If you’ll be hosting a crowd for Hanukkah, Christmas or New Year’s Day, start thinking about your table.

Do a headcount. If your fully extended table is too small, you may need to set up satellite tables for some guests—including one for tweens and teens.

Gather (or borrow) enough tables and chairs. Don’t worry if your home office chair or backyard picnic bench winds up at dinner.

Choose formal or casual. It’s great to dazzle guests with your heirloom china, crystal stemware and sterling flatware—if you have enough place settings. You might want to go for a more relaxed look with classic white bistro plates or colored Fiestaware. Shop around and you are sure to find some good buys. For instance, IKEA sells 10” white plates for $2.49 each. Whether you decide to use the “good stuff” or something more simple, pull everything out and wash it. You don’t want to be polishing silver or removing water spots from the wineglasses two hours before guests arrive.

Look at your linens.

Do you have enough tablecloths to cover the table(s)? Do you even want a tablecloth? If you’re going with fabric napkins, make sure you have enough, and that all are freshly washed and pressed. Check out these napkin folds!

Still, there’s nothing wrong with using quality paper napkins with the good china or using novelty holiday napkins with everyday plates.

Plan your space If you’ll be presenting the food in a buffet, you’ll have more room on the table for decorations. If the entree and side dishes will be on the table, you’ll need to plan your layout accordingly.

Don’t hesitate to place your empty platters and bowls on the table to see how everything might fit. Don’t forget smaller items like the gravy boat, salt and pepper shakers, and butter dish.

For centerpieces, flowers are not always the best choice. Many blooms have strong scents that can clash with your food. If you do use fresh flowers or greenery, keep it simple, and order now to make sure your floral decorations are fresh on the day of your dinner. If you cannot have the items delivered, assign the pick-up to the nearest helpful relative. Any table decorations should complement the color of the dishes and linens.

Juggling all the details is a challenge, so get as many tasks done before the big day. And make sure you pencil in time to get dressed before guests start arriving. (Someone is always 30 minutes early.)

Photo by Todd Trapani on Unsplash


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