Your guide to hosting for the holidays in Sacramento

Some tips + tricks to make this holiday season one for the books.

Glass cones are filled with fairy lights as a centerpiece display for a dining table.

Soft yellow lighting creates a cozy ambiance for any gathering.

Photo by SACtoday staff

Table of Contents

Holidays come with a lot of expectations — family, food, activities, gifts + more. We’re here to help you host in a way that still lets you celebrate what the season is all about.

The invites

Whether you’re inviting friends, close family or the whole neighborhood, you need to know what to expect. Use a free e-invite maker so they can save the date, and include the following info:

  • Date + time — Consider obstacles like work schedules, daycare + vacations.
  • Address — Include necessary info so people aren’t calling you the day of for directions.
  • Dress code — Pro tip: Make it fun and casual by encouraging sweatpants, or photo-op ready with a color scheme.
  • RSVPs — Ask for them by a specific date (ideally at least one week out) to have enough prep time.
  • Share the menu — Want to whip up a dish that tastes like home? Snag the new Sacramento Eats cookbook for local eats inspo + tell your guests in advance to build the anticipation.
Candles and plated food surround a paper menu clipped to a wooden slab.

Having a fixed menu and specifying ingredients helps guests know what is safe for them to eat.

Photo by SACtoday staff

The menu

Whether you want to show off and provide a multi-course display of food or want to be as lazy as possible, there are important considerations for curating your meal:

  • Dietary restrictions — Serve a variety of dishes and clearly label them with their contents to help people avoid what they can’t eat.
  • Catering — Skip the hassle and have the food brought to you. There are 198 caterers in Sacramento. The earlier you book, the better.
  • Share the love — A potluck is always a great way to get everyone involved + divvy up the labor. We suggest the host provides the entrees, leaving the sides + drinks up to the guests.

The set up

You know the vibe — holidays are supposed to give that warm + fuzzy feeling. Here are some tips to get people comfy:

  • Drink bar — Set out some glasses, mixers + champagne for a build-your-own drink station. May we suggest a good ol’ White Linen? As guests arrive, they can make a cocktail or mocktail + mingle before the real feast begins.
  • Ambient lighting — Use lamps + candles instead of overhead lights to diffuse some cozy lighting throughout your space.
  • Ample seating — This matters before, during + after the meal. Make sure you have enough chairs, couch space and cushions to accommodate everyone.
  • Centerpieces — Instead of one giant floral arrangement on the table that gets in the way, consider breaking one up into multiple small jars or vases and scattering them throughout your space.
Two bottles of wine sit on the counter as dinner guests mill about in the background.

Wine + refreshments are a must for any gathering.

Photo by SACtoday staff

The wind down

Your event was a success + people aren’t ready to let those good vibes go. However, it’s time to kick out those stragglers... tactfully of course:

  • Set boundaries — In your invite + after people arrive, emphasize the intended duration of your event.
  • Non-verbal cues — Our personal favorite is to queue “Closing Time” by Semisonic. Straight-forward + still a bop, just the way we like it.
  • Party favors — Pre-write “Thank you” notes on some cute stationary (we’re looking at you, Paper Garden) to hand out + soften the blow of shoving them out the door. If you have a Polaroid camera, pics of your guests make a great souvenir, too.

If all else fails, grab a nightgown + candlestick and wander around barefoot. Worst case, guests will think you’re the ghost of a creepy Victorian child and run. Best case, people will think you’re sleepy + a little bonkers and politely excuse themselves.

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