The New Homeowner’s Guide on How to Host Christmas Dinner

Evelyn Long

Dec 14, 2023

Christmas dinner on table

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Many first-time homeowners wonder how to host Christmas dinner. After all, it’s one thing to show up at a friend’s house or a family abode with a small present for the gathering versus orchestrating the whole party yourself. Hosting a Christmas dinner can undoubtedly cause a few jitters, but the secret to getting through the night is the time you take before the celebration starts. A manageable task list and game plan should set you up for success in your holiday endeavors. Here’s how to host Christmas dinner and enjoy every step of the process.

1. Prepare the Invitations

The first step is preparing and sending invitations. You want to encourage the people close to you to feel welcome in your home. Design and write paper invites when you want to be formal or send a personal message online.Having an invite also clarifies several details of your Christmas dinner, such as the time and date. Remember to include your address on the invitation. Clarifying your new house location clears up any confusion and ensures guests know exactly where they’re heading.

2. Cook Ahead of Time

Hosting Christmas dinner means being responsible for the food on the table, unless you and your loved ones collectively talk about having a potluck or ordering in instead. If you’re feeling intimidated, you’re not alone. About 22% of first-time Christmas dinner cooks are also nervous about preparing dishes.Making Christmas dinner is all about preparing what you can before the actual party. That includes planning, cutting, marinating and completing prep work for your dishes. Cooking some items beforehand can minimize some of your stress.


For fuss-free appetizers, go with a lovely Christmas charcuterie board. There’s no cooking needed, which makes things easier for you. Add sliced sausages, cheese, fruits, nuts and crackers. You can also put your slow cooker to use and make cocktail meatballs or festive dips, like buffalo chicken or spinach artichoke.

Main Course

Roasted turkey and gravy are a staple for any Christmas dinner. Other main course alternatives like beef tenderloin or honey-glazed ham will appeal to your guests, too. If you have family or friends on a no-animal-products diet, a vegan Wellington or mac ‘n’ cheese is suitable for your menu.


Prep Christmas sugar cookie dough a day or two before the dinner party. That way, you can shape it and put it in the oven when everyone finishes their meal. If you want a no-bake dessert, go with candy cane chocolate bark or a cheesecake pie. You can bring it out of the fridge and serve it immediately.


If guests will stick around for a little while, have a few snacks ready for them to munch. Pretzels are a great option and you can customize the dips on the table. Have beer cheese and mustard dips prepared for those who want something savory but creamy. People with a sweet tooth will enjoy a nice caramel apple dip. 

3. Decorate the Home and Table

Be sure to clean your home before adding Christmas-themed decor. This is an excellent chance to wow your guests with a nice presentation, but you can simply focus on making the space more comfortable and inviting. The same goes for table decorating. Have winter flowers ready, along with beautiful tableware, silverware and napkins. Remember to find a good tablecloth and iron it to remove any wrinkles that can distract your guests.

4. Add Candlelight

Lighted candles are a key Christmas symbol, dating back to a tradition in the 16th century where they were added to a tree as a reminder of God’s creations. While Christmas lights and ornaments now replace that tradition, consider adding candle lighting. Have them by the dinner table or at the fireplace for a touch of elegance.

5. Play Welcome Music

Music can help your new household seem much more welcoming to your guests. As people arrive, play a few Christmas jams to liven things up. As the evening progresses, you can switch to more ambient pieces instead. Search for instrumentals like piano or saxophone to use as background music during dinner so people can easily have conversations.

6. Offer Wine and Drinks

Red wine is the perfect Christmas drink for guests. Mulled or spiced wine are warming options that can fight the winter chill. There are also Christmas-flavored liquors with cinnamon and nutmeg undertones that add a perfect touch of holiday cheer. Remember to have nonalcoholic beverages available for younger guests and those who prefer to stay sober. Cranberry punch is refreshing and classic hot chocolate is soothing. You can even add a candy cane for a festive touch.

7. Plan Entertainment

Crack out board games to play before or after dinner. They can be fun to bond over and give you great, lasting memories. You can also opt for a classic Christmas movie screening in the living room and let guests choose between favorites like “Elf,” “Home Alone” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

8. Stock up on Essentials

After dinner, people may decide to stay for the night. It’s essential to make the right accommodations ready for your loved ones. Ensure your home is well-stocked with essentials like toilet paper, soap and shampoo. If you don’t have a guest room ready, make the living room as cozy as possible by providing lots of pillows and blankets.

9. Anticipate the Tough Cleanup

As the host of the Christmas dinner, you’re also responsible for the cleanup that comes afterward. Be sure to have the right supplies ready, like reusable food containers for storing leftovers and trash bags for collecting garbage. You can also ask a close friend to help clear the plates and cutlery. Run the dishwasher overnight and clean delicate china and crystal by hand before going to bed.

How to Host Christmas Dinner and Create Lasting Memories

Learning how to host Christmas dinner ahead of time will make the process go smoothly. Above all, remember to have fun. It should not feel like a chore. Christmas is about enjoying the season with loved ones, so take it easy and celebrate.

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