10 holiday entertaining tips from TikTok’s most popular personal chef

One day you're a kid - opening your new toy kitchen with wide eyes and pouty cheeks - and the next you're preparing a full holiday meal in your real kitchen. Being a host is not an easy job. There's a lot to do between sending out invitations, pestering cousins ​​with RSVPs, and making sure every corner of the house is tidy (although the chances of your mom actually peeking into your sock drawer are slim).

With thoughtful planning, you can ensure that hosting the holiday - whether it's for your entire extended family or a family of your choice - goes smoothly. Just ask some of TikTok's favorite personal chefs, who have to throw special-occasion dinners all the time — and it really can be done without spending too much money or using too much brainpower. Read on below for our best tips on saving money at the grocery store, staging a charming place, and making sure even your gluten-free, vegan brother-in-law enjoys the holidays. And make sure you do the same.

Shop smart and seasonally

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"Growing together, growing together," Brooke Baevsky (known as @chefbae to her followers) tells Bustle. “The seasonal produce in fall and early winter is delicious during the holidays.”

Eating more fruits and vegetables that grow in your area this time of year will ease your grocery bill because these products are not imported. They will also taste fresher. Apples, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, pears, kale, and sweet potatoes are all in season during fall and winter and can be a great starting point to inspire your holiday menu.

Do not knock frozen ingredients

You can’t assume that every aspect of a meal can be made with seasonal ingredients. Elena Besser, who has worked in restaurants, private chef venues and as a food host on Today's How, says don't be afraid to try frozen products.

"Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and frozen at their peak freshness, which makes them cheaper and ensures they taste delicious," she said. Besser recommends using frozen berries to make preserves or jam for dessert.

A little decoration goes a long way

Simple dishes paired with the right décor can also reflect the quality of a restaurant. Maybe it's a fresh herb to bring out some seasoning in the food, or even an edible flower to brighten the plate.

"I think there's beauty in simplicity. Microgreens not only add a nutrient-dense component to dishes, but they also have a beautiful, aesthetic aspect to them," Baevsky said. "You can even grow your own edible flowers, as long as they are organic. There are also violas, marigolds, nasturtiums, which are all beautiful flowers that can make a dish pop."

Don’t turn a blind eye to dietary adjustments

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This may require some flexibility, but ultimately it's the landlord's job to make sure everyone has a good time. Karen Rosenbloom, who shares her chef vlogs on TikTok at @karens_cooking, emphasizes the importance of making guests feel welcome. "If that means they want something different or separate, if that makes them happy, then it's the host's job to put the guest's preferences first and make sure they're comfortable."

Ashley Cunningham, who cooks for athletes and other private clients in Los Angeles, says allergen-free dishes don't have to be boring.

"Make a salad and a soup without doing anyone a disservice. For salads, I don't have any dairy or any cream in my vinaigrette. I like to add vegetables to it," Cunningham says. "You want something very hearty that will satisfy non-meat eaters so you can increase their salad size. The same goes for soups; choose something that can substitute for the main dish and go with the meat if necessary Or cheese is just as appealing." Soups made with butternut squash or leek and potato soup are filling options.

Bethell says it's easy to be extra polite to guests with allergies. "Prepare a small allergen-free version (an allergen-free entree) so they don't feel like you're totally out of your way to make something specific for them, which can be flimsy and awkward." For example, You can have each guest put the cheese and nuts on the salad themselves, allowing people with dietary restrictions to enjoy the food without feeling burdened.

Second hand watch settings

“Tablescapes are key to any dinner party,” says Faith Christensen of @faithsfresh on TikTok.

Going to an antique or fabric store is a great way to find cool plates, glassware, and tablecloths to complement the look of your table. Add plants, candles, and any cute knick-knacks around the house, and you're set.

"Tablecloths can be expensive because the fabric is sewn so there are no raw edges, but there are materials that can be cut with raw edges and they will look beautiful, just like linen," says Besser. You can even use butcher paper. "Then when you've cleaned everything up, all you have to do is crumple it up and throw it away. You can also paint it with color for place setting, or if you're making a grazing table, you can Write on paper.”

Lighten it up a bit (but not too much)

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"If you turn on the overhead lights, it instantly transforms [the room] into an office or hospital," Besser said. Instead, dim overhead lights and turn on any funky lights around the space. To automatically transform your holiday party from overly saturated to super cool, place lit votive or pillar candles around your food, too.

call a friend

Hosting the holidays can quickly go from a festive treat to a complete nightmare if you feel like you're doing it all yourself. Don’t be afraid to lean on your guests: Ask a token bartender from your team to bring wine or pre-made cocktails; ask your cheeseboard-obsessed bestie to bring something everyone can choose from to start the night off — —like bread and butter or cooked food.

Besser also says you can give your guests some sous-chef duties, such as cleaning and picking fresh herbs to garnish the dish. These details make the plate look like it was put together, but it can take up unnecessary time if you try to do it all yourself.

Music can take things from good to great

“[Music] helps you get through the long, hard days of preparation,” Cunningham said. While she prefers Renaissance because she'll be chopping and cleaning before the big day, you can ask your music-loving friend to put together a playlist.

Or, use a feature like Spotify's Friend Mix to funnel all your guests' favorite songs into one queue.

Leftovers are a love language

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There’s nothing more popular than holiday leftovers, and as a host, as long as you’re prepared, you can serve your guests snacks for the next day. After all, "it makes them feel like they're going home with some souvenirs," Cunningham said. Deli containers, plastic takeout containers, and paper food boxes can all be ordered in bulk on Amazon for less than $25, making it easy to give away your food without having to give away all those fancy glass lunch boxes at the same time.

Timing is everything

Even well-trained cooks can have trouble with meal times. While proteins should be cooked the same day to avoid getting tough and pasta should be cooked and eaten within an hour, there are a few things you can do ahead of time, according to Rosenbloom.

Cunningham recommends shopping for groceries three days before the event (detailed list attached!).

Foods like meatballs and casseroles can be prepared up to a week in advance and frozen until ready to be reheated. Anything that needs to wait until that day, like a salad or grilled meat, can have its ingredients weighed or cut in advance.

But even if despite all the planning, grocery lists made and checked twice, and meals prepped, something goes wrong, your friends and family will be grateful that you opened up to them during this special time. of your home and kitchen, which brings you comfort. time of year.

“You shouldn’t obsess over making sure everything is perfect because — newsflash — it isn’t and never will be,” Besser said. “People are happy to be there.”


Brooke Baevsky, personal chef and recipe developer known as @chefbae

Elena Besser, personal chef and host

Faith Christensen, personal chef @faithsfresh

Ashley Cunningham, personal chef

Karen Rosenbloom, personal chef @karens_cooking