When we started planning Christmas with Giada De Laurentiis, we knew she’d have plenty of amazing menu ideas and great gift picks. But she also emphasized the importance of entertaining. “I think a lot of great parties start or end in the kitchen,” says Giada. “It’s about food, of course, but it’s also just about making people feel welcome and comfortable in your home.” Her newest book, Happy Cooking, is about “making every meal count. . .without stressing out.” Here’s how Giada does just that during big holiday dinners.
1. Plan The Menu
“During the holidays I like to really plan my menu. I figure out how many people I’m having and what I’m making, and then I prep as much ahead of time as I can. My rule of thumb is that you should have just one thing you’re finishing up as guests come. The rest of the dishes should already be made or just warming up. You don’t want to be spending all your time trying to finish off every dish when you really want to be hanging out with your friends or family!”
“When I have people at my house, I’ll often go to the door barefoot. I’ll usually wear a long dress or something that is a bit glamorous. I want them to know I’ve taken the time to look my best, but I don’t want them to be intimidated. So, I feel like answering the door barefoot is kind of grounding, and it’s a very accessible way to welcome someone into my house. It’s relaxed. And then, of course, a hug is always a wonderful thing when you walk in someone’s door.”
3. Don’t Underestimate Great Lighting
“I like to light a few candles whenever I have people over. Nothing that gives off a strong scent, and just enough to create a mood. It adds a very elegant touch without going over the top.”
4. Start With Snacks
“The first thing I’ll do when people come over is to invite them into my kitchen. I usually have something laid out, whether it’s a simple crostini with some goat cheese or a little cheese platter with fruit. Just something they can nibble on and hang out with me in the kitchen.”
5. And Don’t Forget the Drinks!
“Of course, a little cocktail is always nice, or a little bubbly. It’s festive, fun and puts a smile on people’s faces. Because that’s what it’s all about.”