6 Hosting Tips and Hacks from the Pros
If you’re wearing the host hat this holiday season, fear not. At the end of the day, it’s all about gathering around a table of great food and making memories with special people. But to pull it off like a champ, a little insider know-how can’t hurt, right?
That’s why we’ve tapped industry insiders, top chefs and actress and home cook Kristen Bell for their best tips, tricks and recipes. You might just want to steal their secrets to make your own meal even more special:
1. Serve homemade yam chips, the perfect vessel for almost anything.
“I love seasonal produce, so during the holidays there will always be Brussels sprouts, pomegranate seeds and yams on my menu. I love slicing garnet yams about a quarter-inch thick and roasting to use as a chip substitute and bite-size vehicle for almost anything. I load them up with shredded Brussels and pecorino, a piece of bacon and pomegranate molasses, or a dollop of White Moustache savory Persian yogurt.” — Elly Truesdell, Local Products Buyer at Whole Foods Market
2. Brew up a batch of hot spiced cider in the slow cooker.
“My favorite trick: Before friends and family arrive, I break out my slow cooker and make a hot, spiced cider. (Just toss in apple cider, cinnamon, cloves, orange and even rum, if you like.) It’s super low effort, tastes delicious, and your kitchen will smell like a dream.” — Hugh Acheson, Chef and author of The Chef & The Slow Cooker and Top Chef judge
3. Create a self-serve drink station with juices, Italian sodas and more.
“When I’m having people over, I like to create a station for drinks, so everyone can serve themselves. I’ll fill a pitcher of water with slices of cucumber or orange, and keep the fridge stocked with fruit juices and coconut water. I’m also in love with the Whole Foods MarketTM Italian Sodas — they come in all kinds of flavors like Fig Cream and Apple Pear Ginger, so they’re perfect for cocktails or mocktails.” — Kristen Bell, Actress, mom of two and home cook
4. Transform packaged appetizers with beautiful plates and platters.
“Consider the plate that you’ll be presenting your food on. It’s amazing what taking an appetizer out of a package and plating it on a nice ceramic platter, a wooden board or a cast-iron skillet can do. Also consider quality flatware such as gold skewers instead of standard wooden toothpicks for added detail.” — Melissa King, San Francisco-based chef and Top Chef finalist
5. To brine is divine, but what if there's no time? Try this dry-rub hack.
“Everyone stresses about hosting Thanksgiving because of the turkey. Brine it if you have time and space. But if you don’t, here’s my trick for adding flavor: I break down the raw turkey, then generously coat with a spice rub in a large pan — I like 365 Everyday Value® Mediterranean Rotisserie Seasoning. Leave it in the fridge overnight, and you’re guaranteed a tasty bird.” — Tien Ho, Chef, Global Culinary and Hospitality at Whole Foods Market
6. Serve precooked king crab legs for maximum frill with minimal fuss.
“One of my favorite things to serve that looks fancy, but takes basically zero effort, is king crab legs. They’re already cooked when you buy them from our fishmongers, so I just serve them cold with warm drawn butter and lemon slices on the side.” — Amy Eubanks, Chef and Director of Culinary Development at Whole Foods Market