Three generations of famiy are in the kitchen smiling during the holiday season.

5 Lessons from Mi Abuelita on Hosting a Holiday Party

Erika Batista shares what she has learned from her abuelita about hosting a memorable family gathering.

By Erika Batista

My earliest holiday memories are rooted in Ecuador, where I grew up. On a warm December evening, my primos would arrive at my abuelita’s house. The madness that arrived with them was inevitable – you see, my grandmother has 10 children, so you can imagine the number of cousins I have! The thing I admired the most about my abuelita was how she kept calm no matter how stressful the holidays were. Somehow, whether she was entertaining 20 people or 40, she had always prepared enough food for everyone, and she always made each person feel welcome in her home. I learned from her that holidays are about family and spending quality time with those we love most.

Now that I host many of my family’s celebrations during the holidays, I want to create the same kinds of memories, and I take what I learned from my grandmother to heart. If you’re hosting the family holiday party this year, I’ve gathered some tips on how you can throw a fun, laughter-filled celebration while still looking fabulosa – just like my abuelita taught me.

Give yourself enough time to get ready
Abuelita always told me how important it was to look polished and put together – not frazzled or rushed – for family gatherings. I take her words to heart by figuring out how much time it will take me to shower, do my hair and makeup, and get dressed – and then I add another half hour just to be safe. Who doesn’t want to look their best when they host a holiday party? Put on a little red lipstick, put your hair up and go be the best hostess you can be, mujer!

Let the kids help
I love holiday parties because the house is filled with kids! Put their energy and enthusiasm to good use by asking them to pitch in. Ask kids who are old enough to help set the table, sweep the floor or load the dishwasher after dinner. The kids will enjoy having something to do, and you get some much-needed help with your hosting duties.

Start cooking early
Isn’t it wonderful how food brings the family together, sitting around one big table, during the holidays? If your family is like mine, food is just one way we express our love for one another and celebrate our culture. One lesson I learned from my abuelita is to start cooking in the morning. That way, when the guests arrive and all the craziness begins, you can easily slide trays into the oven so they’re piping hot when it’s time to eat.

Enjoy every moment
Hosting holiday dinners can be stressful, but it’s important to cherish the moments you spend together, even the chaotic ones. Each year, when my mom and I sit down to plan the holiday gathering, she tells me, “ Erika, no te estreses. Recuerda disfrutar de las fiestas ya que pasan muy rápido . Hazlo por los ninos .” As you know, moms are always right. These moments go by so quickly. The children at your family gathering are small for such a short time, so appreciate the noise, and remember to soak up the fun and festivities happening around you.

Brought to you by Swiffer, Bounty and Cascade, which help save you time in the kitchen and around the house. (Don’t worry – your abuela doesn’t have to know about your cleaning and cooking hacks!)

What are some of your most-cherished holiday memories? What holiday-prep tips have you learned from your mamá and abuelita? Share your stories below.

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