Hosting Easter and Other Gatherings: How to Make It Fun and Easy

Over the years, we've hosted many events. Everything from Holiday gatherings, to simple family weekends, to our very own wedding soiree. We love the preparation leading up to an event. Planning fun ways we can share our favorite tastes, sounds and experiences with those dearest to us brings us so much joy. Finalizing all the little things is perhaps our most favorite part of the process...From flowers, to plate settings and menus, to what kind of music will set the right ambiance.

These little touches, when combined with good company, have filled our home with so much warmth and heart through the years. We couldn't be more grateful for all the memories made.
Each time a new event rolls around, we look forward to that hectic, mingling buzz  - it's so different from our everyday life!

Although we're not hosting this Easter, I thought it would be fun to share a few images of Easters past, and some planning tips (especially in terms of time management) that help us get through entertaining without too much stress (and perhaps even a wee bit of joy :)

The Size, Theme, and General Feeling of the Party

Possibly the most important step in planning a party is getting these three sorted out. They set the tone of the party and the course of  all the planning. So, the sooner this is all hashed out, the smoother all else flows. 
Questions that can be helpful are...Will it be a large gathering or an intimate setting? Is there a theme (or a Holiday) that will need to be incorporated? What will be the ambiance of the party or what is the general vibe of the guest list? We're partial to cozy, informal gatherings, but that doesn't always mean it's appropriate for all events. So we try and keep all of these things in mind before anything else gets rolling.

Next up we like to start on all the to-do's that can be done in advance.

Stay Ahead

Leaving everything until the night before, or even the week before a party, can make things super stressful. But luckily, there are plenty of things that can be prepped weeks in advance, even months in advance of an event, and the best part is that these activities can be a super fun bonding experience for everyone involved! I'll let you in on a little secret - we actually plan for gatherings long before we even have anything on the horizon :) If we happen to be listening to good music that evokes a certain mood, we might start making a playlist that gets tucked away, for a future event. The event may not ever materialize, but it sure is handy to have the music ready if it does! Also who doesn't love to have different music lists ready for when they're just-in-that-kind-of-mood?

Here are a few thing that we always prep in advance and the tools that help us do it.

We use Spotify. It is a subscription service, but it is SO worth every single penny. We can find any music we desire here. Even music that I remember from my childhood in Croatia! Making playlists is easy, and the songs can be downloaded, for when you're in a no-service/no wifi situation. A single subscription can also be used among different devices, but it cannot be played at the same time on these various devices. So unless your family has a heap of music buffs, a single subscription can be plenty to keep everyone happy. And when it comes time for a gathering, we simply plug our device into our sound system, and an instant vibe is set!   

We like to determine whether or not we will require decorations for just the table, a specific room, or an overall area (such as an outdoor space). This helps us understand the scope, and start planning for a budget. By no means do I suggest that heaps of moolah should be spent on any gathering. In fact, we love using parties as an opportunity to use some of the items that are no longer in rotation in our home decor, or perhaps pull from other areas of our home to form an eclectic look. In the below photo, I pulled wind chimes from our porch, to add a little whimsy to our table. Plus, it acts as a super seasonal dinner bell :) For the table dressing, I used berry twigs from a flower arrangement that had dried up and was ready for composting, and I used colored Easter eggs as a couple of little centerpieces. Once you have an idea of all the goodies that you have on hand, it makes it super easy to determine the actual budget (if any) required for the remaining decorations. We love shopping at Home Sense/Home Goods to find inexpensive and unique items for decor.

While most of the actual cooking and food prep typically cannot be done this far in advance, the menu certainly can! We love, love, love coming up with interesting menus and try to use as many personal recipes,  as well as favorites inspired by fun restaurants we've visited on our travels, or recent recipe crushes. This is perhaps the most fun part of an event, because food brings everyone together, and it's so fun to share these recipes with everyone. 
We also try to ensure that we have at least some options for folks that may have food allergies and/or sensitivities. We love for all of our guests to feel super welcome and included, so making sure safe options are available is very important to us. 

If the party is BYOB, this step can be skipped. If drinks are a part of the menu, gathering a bit of info on guest preferences is super helpful in this department. Drink tolerances and favorites can be just as varied as the foodie counterpart. So we try to accommodate as best as we can. We also try to have heaps of yummy zero-proof drinks on hand, such as a fresh-fruit seltzer, and iced coffees for summertime, and mulled ciders and hot chocolates for the cozier months.
Drink menus are my hubby's specialty, so we have heaps of fun collaborating and chatting about what flavors will pair nicely with the food menu. And since most ingredients for bevvys are shelf-stable, we typically try and get the shopping out of the way pretty early on.

Is it possible that you're hosting more people than your furniture will allow? We like to have a plan for any extra furniture/home prep that might be required well in advance. Calling friends and family to source these items early on, increases the chances that guests won't have to eat their dinner on the floor :) It's an easy step, but a super important one. 

I think this might be the least favorite step for most when it comes to gatherings!  We love cleaning, and we both contribute, so it ends up being just another thing on the get-prepped list. If you don't love cleaning, or the task of doing so is overwhelming/not feasible, there are definitely options to circumvent this step. 
One option, is to hire it out! Saving some moolah on other parts of hosting (such as the decorations, food, etc) helps cover this cost, plus, the stress it alleviates can be the difference between actually enjoying the process of event planning, or being enveloped by it. It's also helpful to schedule it for a day you know you will need to run errands, that way double the work is achieved in just one day. 
If that is not an option, another way to save some sanity is to  minimize the areas of entertaining. Perhaps keeping the party outdoors is a good way to only need to tidy a bathroom, or kitchen area. 
Another way to get around the cleaning, is to host the party elsewhere. This may not be practical for small gatherings, but it can be a lifesaver for large ones. Also, many spots offer rentals for even small groups (such as parks, restaurants, etc), so it's worth checking out! 

While the actual cooking may need to wait, much of the shopping and food prep can be done well in advance. Food items that can be frozen, are an ideal item to prep ahead of time, even two to three weeks in advance. It can even help to have a menu that entirely encompasses this method! Aside from freezing, we like to also prep sauces, condiments, and any other foods that keep well refrigerated at least one week in advance, and then focus on rest of the cooking the week of the event.

If we are short on time/budget, we might just use the numerous potted plants from around our home. This helps us plan well in advance, and not worry so much about their freshness. If we do wish to incorporate fresh florals, we typically source them the week of the soiree. 

Now that the event is around the corner, here is what we save for the week-of.

Finalizing Food

We make any last minute changes to the menu, and finalize all shopping as early as possible in the week. The rest of the week, we knock items off the menu, in order of which will keep the longest. Charcuterie boards, freshly made drink syrups, marinated salads, and brined/marinated meat, stews, chutneys, etc. can all be done in advance and if stored properly, makes the food keep and even taste better! 
The night before, we will get salads ready (not the leafy green kind), prep fruit and veggies (cleaning, peeling, chopping, etc), and prepare any type of fresh items that need some time (such as breads that require an overnight proof) or batters that do well in the fridge. 
The day of, is usually not so hectic, considering most of the moving parts are ready. In the mornings, we usually like to take it pretty easy, just like it is any other day. Around noon is when we start to pull everything together, and by dinnertime, we're usually left with a little bit of time to spare!

This allows us to really enjoy the time leading up the the event, as well as be present with our loved ones. I personally feel that the purpose is defeated, when a host is so busy that they cannot enjoy the event. Plus, for any first-time guests, it can be difference between making them feel welcome, or very intimidated and isolated in a crowd of new faces.

It also helps so much to have a willing and able set of hands to help. We both enjoy entertaining, but I know that is not the case for everyone. In these instances, it helps to recruit a friend (the planner in your group), a sibling, or even your kiddos!

If the idea of hosting is overwhelming, it helps to start out small. If you've never hosted before, it's not always a good idea to dive in head first. Hosting a family gathering prior to taking on a block party, can be a helpful way to get the hang of things and then scale them. 

But the most important part, is to have fun!! 
Sure there will be hiccups. People may cancel, it might rain, your food might burn...It happens! And it happens to all of us. Most people who come to the event have either hosted themselves and sincerely can relate, or are just there to enjoy your company! They are not looking for perfection, just a welcoming, warm atmosphere. Which can only come from the heart.
So have fun and don't worry about the little things. They will make up the great stories you'll tell one day.

Last but not least, we try and not feel the pressure to spend an exorbitant amount of money when hosting. All the costs add up, so being aware of that can help keep things in check. Hosting a potluck, picking a menu that is a little more 'cent-sible', or DIYing, are all ways to keep costs at bay.

I hope this article was helpful for anyone who might be taking on hosting for the first time. 
I am fortunate that I grew up in a family who was always hosting, so many of these traditions were passed down, but I know that for many, that was just not everyday life. So I hope that even if you did not grow up around hosting, or infuse it into your life, that you'll give it a try! It's really not so scary and can be an incredibly fun adventure.

The memories made, will far outweigh the hiccups. 
And just like taking on any new challenge, it nurtures resilience, problem solving, and the art of seeing-things-through. Plus it can form bonds that aren't always so easy to make outside the comfort and cozyness of a home....It may just be the best chance you take!

The only next best thing to hosting, is being hosted!
So don't forget to do that from time to time too :)

Wishing you all a splendid Easter, and happy hosting! 


  1. I'd like to invite myself to your next soiree, please? I was a chef/caterer for 10 years, Ivana! I would have loved to have you on the payroll, or had you as a partner!
    Happy Easter, honey bunny! xx

    1. Really!!?? Michele, that would have been my DREAM! Oh perhaps one day we will get to fulfill that dream, even if just for a day ;) Thanks sweet friend xoxo

  2. What a great post!! The photos are gorgeous!! I am not one for entertaining. I get totally stressed to have a lot of people at my house. Thank goodness my husband likes to cook and I am the one who cleans up. I am the baker in the house and can cook, but hate it. Thanks for all the tips!

    1. Nora, I totally hear what you mean...I'm not a huge fan of certain parts of entertaining (like thinking up games and playing them) and it's so nice to have hubby step in to save the day! And it's so nice that you guys both have your departments that help make everything work together! But you're right, entertaining can be sooo stressful! Thanks for the visit sweet friend and for your sweet note! xoxo

  3. Hello Ivana, I am very behind in my blog visits - but am So Happy to have seen this post of yours! It really was helpful (even for an ol' gal like me! : ) Reminding me
    that life is short! and I have avoided hosting for way.too.long.
    People and relationships are so very important, and it makes me happy to set out a few beautiful things and offer some (hopefully) yummy foods to share with those I love! (I can think of very few times I was ever 'sorry' I hosted- but) I cannot add up all the wonderful memorable times we have shared our home and hearth with family and friends! You've got me thinking - "just do it!" Thanks for all the helpful tips; and especially for the reminders of my heart <3 Much love & hugs to you dear Ivana. karen o

    1. Oh, me too, Karen. I'm hoping to make my rounds very soon :) I can completely relate on the hosting front - it has seldom resulted in a feeling as though we would have been better off without it. So very glad to hear it touched and sparked a little something in your heart! Biggest hugs and love, dear friend xoxo

  4. Boy do I wish I was one of your guests, Ivana! You're so creative & talented--this could be an article in Better Homes & Gardens! Gorgeous table--love every little detail! You write & decorate like a pro, my friend!

    1. Awwww, Greta! That is so very kind of you to say! I would be delighted to have you as a guest one day :) These days, entertaining is not as easy, but it sure does bring me a lot of joy! Hugs to you sweet friend!


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