As a host, it's your responsibility to make sure that your guests have exactly what they need at all times. It goes without saying that this is an incredibly tiring and taxing job, the demanding nature of which is compounded by the fact that you've likely spent the past several hours (or days) cooking everything from a green bean casserole to a ham big enough to feed 12. Plus, if you took a hosting break last year (thanks COVID-19!) you might understandably be a touch rusty and in need of some extra assistance this year.
While nothing (except maybe a private chef or some pricey takeout) can magically make a holiday dinner appear on your dining room table while your kitchen remains spotless, there are several home and kitchen products that can make your role as host or hostess much easier. Love cooking but hate the thought of scrubbing pots and pans until your arms hurt? Invest in a set of dishwasher-safe cookware. Not thrilled at the idea of springing into action every time someone announces they need to be topped off? Place beverage dispensers in your dining room so your guests can refill their own drinks as often as they like.
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Keep reading for more holiday must-haves that will make your hosting duties easier than ever this year.
A nonstick cookware set
If you've volunteered to host a holiday party this year, at least one thing is for certain: There is a lot of cooking in your future. Somehow, even if you ask each of your guests to bring a dish, you'll still spend half a day (if not longer) in the kitchen. Since cooking for friends and family is stressful enough, make things easier for yourself by investing in a well-designed set of nonstick cookware. This will significantly reduce your cleanup time and ensure that you won't be scrubbing away long after your guests have said goodbye. If you really want to give yourself a break, look for a cookware set that's dishwasher safe. Just remember to season any new pans before you use them for the first time so they stay in tip-top shape.
A coffee maker
If you've been cooking all day, the last thing you want to worry about as the night starts to wind down is getting your guests a cup of joe to go with their pecan pie—especially if your revelers have different tastes in coffee. Luckily, most modern coffee makers will let you brew individual cups of flavored coffee or espresso, so you can serve multiple people at once.
Bamboo plates and flatware
Who wants a sink full of dishes once their guests leave? Absolutely no one, that's who. Avoid hours of scrubbing (and a potential dishwasher meltdown) at the end of the night by investing in some disposable dishes and cutlery. For those worried about creating too much waste, look for pieces that are recyclable, like those made out of bamboo or palm leaves. Pro tip: Recyclable cups are pretty easy to find too.
A pressure cooker
If you haven't invested in one of these handy gadgets already, now is the time. While there are dozens of different models to choose from, nearly all pressure cookers make cooking everything from mac and cheese to steamed veggies ridiculously easy. In fact, most of the time you just toss your ingredients in the basket, close the lid, press a button and let the pressure cooker do all the work. If you expect to be cooking for a large group of people this holiday season, be sure to choose a pressure cooker with at least a 10-quart capacity.
Set the holiday mood for your guests with a little help from a set of smart lights. Depending on the set you purchase, you can easily control the lights in one room or your entire home using a Bluetooth app or smart home device. Typically, this means you can turn your lights on or off, dim them, and even change colors with the touch of a button or a simple voice command. In other words, you won't need to worry about running around the house turning various lights on and off as the day progresses.
A robot vacuum
No matter how neat your guests are, there's bound to be plenty of crumbs on the ground (and maybe even a few spills) by the time the celebration is over. If you don't feel like breaking out the broom and dustpan to get every last bit of dropped food, buy a robot vacuum and put it to work while you're busy getting a good night's sleep. While a robot vacuum might not be able to get that red wine stain out of your carpet, many models know to head straight to a mess, and can even learn the layout of your home to ensure that no crumb is left behind.
Don't want guests constantly barging in the kitchen for a drink while you're busy putting the finishing touches on your holiday feast? Invest in a beverage dispenser or two and place them in a common area so your guests can go ahead and hydrate themselves without inadvertently adding things to your to-do list. Make your life even easier by filling one dispenser with water and another with an apropos batch cocktail of your choice, like this Holiday Punch. And if you're able to place these dispensers close to the dinner table, you won't need to worry about taking up valuable table space with various drink pitchers.
A lazy Susan
If you don't want to get up every time one of your guests needs something, consider investing in a lazy Susan and setting it on your table during mealtime. While you might not be able to fit everything on this rotating wonder if you're entertaining a big group, you could easily use it for cheese and crackers before the meal begins, or stock it with extra napkins, silverware, and any popular condiments so you're not running back and forth to the kitchen every 30 seconds.
If a lazy Susan won't work with your table setup, consider using tiered stands instead. Placing one (or more) at the center of a long table ensures the night won't be spent passing food from one end of the table to the other.
Foil to-go containers
Chances are you're going to have some leftovers at the end of the night, and unless you plan on crowding your fridge and keeping everything for yourself, you'll have plenty of extra mashed potatoes and apple pie to send everyone home with. Since we're betting you don't want to part with a sizable portion of your carefully curated food storage collection, consider buying foil to-go containers before the big day. That way, you can send your guests home with leftovers without dipping into your own container stash.
If space in your fridge and/or freezer is tight, buy a cooler that you can fill up with drinks and ice to free up some valuable real estate for more important things like pumpkin pie and ice cream. In addition to giving you more room to work with, the cooler is also a great place to put any canned drinks, which guests can easily help themselves to without disrupting the delicate fridge and freezer ecosystem you've established. Everyone wins!