5 ways to make holiday hosting a little sweeter this year

(BPT) – Hosting during the holidays can be stressful but with a little extra prep, you’ll still have time to make memories with family and friends. Whether you are hosting this year’s holiday party or housing out-of-town guests, it’s essential to slow down and savor the moments that make this time of year so special.

See below for five ways to make hosting a little easier and a whole lot sweeter, so you can focus on what really matters.

1. Build in time buffers within your prep schedule

No matter how busy your schedule is, be sure to add extra time before or after events and errands, even if it’s just 15 minutes, to give yourself breathing room. Cushions of “empty time” will help relieve stress when traffic or other problems slow you down. When things go smoothly, they’ll give you a few minutes here and there to stop, take a deep breath and smell the holly!

2. Recruit your own elves

Invite your family to get in on the fun and help with holiday party prep. If you have kids in the group, assign tasks based on their ages and abilities. Have creative older children? Gather brightly colored paper and ribbons, fir branches and sprigs of holly, and let them create centerpieces, placemats and place cards for your dinner party. If your kids are a bit younger, try making templates for names on place cards and let them color in the letters. Relinquishing a little control over your preparations is well worth letting others help you out and will create a jolly, bustling atmosphere throughout your home. You and your guests will then be able to enjoy the meaningful touches you all have put on your gathering!

3. Cook ahead when possible

Take some of the pressure off hosting days by prepping or even cooking as much of the food ahead of time as possible. Beyond complete dishes that can be refrigerated or frozen and later reheated, consider trying the French culinary preparation technique called “mise en place.” It means “putting in place” and is done by prepping all your ingredients beforehand, such as chopping up veggies and measuring out liquid ingredients. By planning ahead, cooking on the big day will be a merry time!

4. Provide crowd-pleasing desserts with a side of nostalgia

To really win over the hearts of your guests, consider bringing in a nostalgic, fan-favorite dessert like a Carvel ice cream cake to round out your meal. The holidays are one of the most nostalgia-inducing times of the year, and a great opportunity to reminisce on all of the sentimental moments with family and friends over a shared experience. Take the time to reflect on the year behind as well as what is to come, acknowledging the lows and celebrating the highs.

If you know your guests prefer to express their own flavor, Carvel’s new Sundae Dashers® inspired by KIT KAT® DUOS could be your tasty solution. Featuring classic Carvel soft serve ice cream in either strawberry or mint, layers of hot fudge and topped with whipped cream and chopped KIT KATS®, you can’t go wrong with these frosty treats.

These delicious desserts are available at participating Carvel shoppes for pickup or can be delivered at home through food delivery platforms. Find your local Carvel shoppe and delivery availability at Carvel.com.

5. Create special keepsakes with ease

Create a special photo area with holiday decorations for picture-perfect holiday snaps. After the party is over and everyone heads home, send out handwritten thank you notes with the photos attached. Want to go all out? Consider using an online site to order personalized souvenirs using the photos and send them out as a memorable holiday gift.