Is the whole family coming over for the holidays? Or perhaps you'd like to share some festive cheer with your neighbors? Whatever the reason, 'tis the season, so now's the time to start planning.
Stock Your Pantry -- Get ready for hosting with a well-stocked pantry and freezer. Must-haves include quick, no-cook appetizers; basic baking ingredients; spices and marinades; and frozen puff pastry, pie and cookie dough. Head to Airline Drive where you can create your own cheese plate to keep on hand from Houston Dairymaids, along with olives, cured meats, and crackers. Visit nearby El Bolillo Bakery for a bag of their delicious wedding cookies coated with powdered sugar that pair well with a glass of bubbly!
Set the Mood -- Keep decorative accessories handy during this season of entertaining. A vase with fresh-cut flowers and tea lights in frosted glass holders are enough to add that festive touch. Emerson Sloan in Rice Village specializes in "Modern Goods for Happy Occasions" featuring seasonal decorations and party supplies to add festive charm to holiday entertaining at home.
Pre-Plan and Prep Cook -- Come up with a few go-to holiday menu plans and try to prep cook many of the elements in advance. This will prevent you from spending the day slaving over a hot stove and allow you to enjoy your guests. Or let Houston's best chefs do the cooking for you. Revival Market, Hugo's Mexican Restaurant, and James Beard award-winning restaurant, Underbelly, all offer holiday menus featuring main dishes, sides, and desserts. Be sure to check their websites for ordering deadlines!
Find a Place for Everyone -- Consider your holiday hosting capacity. Do you have enough space at the dinner table? Do you need extra chairs or place settings? Is your oven space adequate from the quantity of food you'll be preparing?
Bring on the Fun -- Have a variety of board games, books, playing cards and movies ready for those times when your guests need to entertain themselves. If you're hosting young ones, have a few age-appropriate toys available as well. Big Blue Whale in the Heights is a great local shop for picking up toys that will keep the little ones entertained. For kids (or adults!) into gaming, Bedrock City Comic Company has multiple Houston locations. If you visit the Washington Avenue store, be sure to pick up treats from Three Brothers Bakery or splurge on their famous Pumpecapple Piecake -three layers of cakes with three pies baked into it that weighs in at 23.5 pounds! (Please note they require 5 days notice for ordering.)
Ready the Guest Room -- If your houseguests are staying overnight, make sure they have everything they need to enjoy their stay. Set out extra towels, toiletries and bed linens, as well as maps and guidebooks for the area. Treat your guests to a neighborhood guide created by local experts, Trip Chandler, for a unique gift that will make your visitors feel right at home in our great city of Houston!