How to Plan a Christmas Party (and Cook for 200 Guests)

Holiday Housewalk TourOur Christmas party is in five days. And yes, I do cook all of the food. Our party is a big event, and it has grown in every aspect over the last thirty years. We invite all of our friends and family (and their children if they are friends with our children) and I cook all of the food. For about 200 people. And no, I am not a caterer. I just know how to plan a party. Today I can’t wait to share my biggest tip with you.

It’s the “cooking all of the food” part of our party that is the most amount of work. Over the years I have created a very good menu of heavy hors-d’oeuvres and desserts.  In fact, the food is really good. I don’t change the menu much because anytime I delete something I hear about it from one of our guests!

Here is the menu for our Holiday Party this year:

H O R S  – D’ O E U V R E S

  • Spicy Grilled shrimp
  • Beef Tenderloin with rolls
  • Smoked Turkey with cranberry/orange muffins
  • Smoked Paprika Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce
  • Chicken lettuce wraps
  • BLT tomatoes
  • Skewered chicken with peanut sauce
  • Skewered flank steak with peanut sauce
  • Crab cakes with lemon dill sauce
  • BBQ Chicken Sliders
  • Ham and Swiss Sliders
  • Phyllo with spinach dip
  • Whipped sweet potatoes in crusts with pecan topping
  • Brie cups with pomegranates
  • Seared Ahi Tuna in Sesame Wonton cups with Maple Soy Sauce
  • Pesto stuffed mushrooms

D E S S E R T S 

  • Double Mint Chocolate cookies
  • Peanut butter fudge
  • Frosted sugar cookies
  • Coconut joy candy bars
  • Christmas Crack

If you want a copy of all of these recipes, just sign up to follow my blog. I will be sending the recipes out on Wednesday to all of my blog followers. (If you follow my blog after December 19th I will send the link when you subscribe!)

How to plan a party

The only reason I can make all of this food is because I have an excel spreadsheet that I created that is color-coded and lists everything I need to cook, by each day. It takes a huge task and makes it manageable. And that is because it breaks out my cooking tasks for the 21 menu items I am cooking on a per day basis. And I know if I get everything done every day then come party time it will all be done.

Each menu item is listed and the items that need to be completed for each item are broken down to the right. The boxes are color coded by due date, which are listed at the bottom of page two. So the task in the yellow boxes are to be completed the week prior to the party. The dark orange colored boxes have to be completed the weekend before.

As you can imagine, Thursday and Friday (light orange and aqua) are the killer days. So many things can’t be made that far in advance so I have a lot to do on those days. Those are also the days my girlfriends come over to help! I honestly couldn’t do it without them.

I do need to mention that I have a staff of people that come on Saturday afternoon. They cook everything I have made, serve it during the party and clean up. This is the only way I can enjoy our party. I started this about ten years ago and it’s the best thing ever!

This year I am sharing all of my party recipes. Every single one. The only catch is you need to follow my blog if you want a copy. All you have to do is click here, enter your email address, and it’s done. I will email everyone on the list this Wednesday all of my recipes. It’s that simple. And, if you follow my blog after December 19th, you will get the link when you sign up. I promise.

You can follow my cooking progress on my Instagram stories. I hope you will join me.

That’s it for my tips today. Sorry, but I have got to go cook. Haha.

40 thoughts on “How to Plan a Christmas Party (and Cook for 200 Guests)

  1. I recently started following your blog and I’m amazed you cook for 200 people. We have a large family and I usually cook for around 50 people. Planning is the key to everything and it looks like you’ve got it down to a science. I love to cook and look forward to receiving your recipes, thank you for sharing. Happy Cooking and Merry Christmas!

  2. OMG how amazing of you. We just had our annual Christmas party this past weekend for 50 and I had it catered 🙂 I spend so much time decorating, I just can’t do both and enjoy myself…good for you!

  3. Thank you, Leslie, for sharing your recipes. You are always so generous with your information. I’m really enjoying your blog.

  4. I love your spreadsheet, and look forward to receiving your recipes. Every year I try to do more and more in advance. After hosting such a large party the weekend before, what do you do on Christmas Eve and Day?

  5. LESLIE, I am a caterer, and I couldn’t do what you do, I love to entertain and I do love to cook, however I recently sold my catering business but still work full time as a GM of a lovely Lodge on Lake Martin. You are amazing and I love following your stories, I will definitely be trying some of your recipes!! Hope your party is a success and Merry Christmas!!!

  6. Thank you so much for the recipes. I have been waiting for the email for days! I have watched your stories every day just because I am so impressed with you and the food and how you cook it all. You are my hero. I have done a couple of weddings, so I know how hard you are working, but you do make it seem so easy. Thank you once again and Merry Christmas!

  7. hi Leslie, I do follow your blog and love it 😍 I found no link to get to your recipes , could you please send 🙏🏼❤️😘 you’re amazing

  8. Hi Leslie!
    I have recently started following you and love your charisma and ideas! I live in Oxnard and I think it’s so cool you have a beach house in Ventura. Thanks for sharingthe recipes! Already saved them.

  9. All I have to say is…..you win, hands down. I stress out over 20-30 people I was just reading all of your menu to my husband and he was like, “I want to go”🤣. It all sounds fabulous and I’m definitely going to try a few recipes.

  10. I subscribe to your blog and I did not get the email with the recipes. I would love to have them. Thank you. Thank goodness I pinned this post.

  11. Hi…I signed up for your blog and haven’t received your recipes. I would love to have them. Can you check on this for me. You home is amazing and you are a “super woman” to cook for that many people. Merry Christmas

  12. Just subscribed! I have been following you on ig for awhile and love your home and all of your wonderful ideas!! Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge!!
    Mary

  13. I just subscribed to your blog and am looking forward to getting all of your recipes! I am hosting a party next weekend and plan to make a few! Thank you!!

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