Timing is everything: Follow our detailed timeline to host a memorable party.

Beth Dreiling Hontzas / Styling Lisa Powell Bailey / Food Styling Marian Cooper Cairns

Celebrate With Friends
 Serves 6 to 8


You have to try this menu. It's one sit-down dinner that's dressy enough to impress yet comfortable to enjoy. Pull it off by following our timeline and make-ahead tips, such as freezing pork tenderloin in marinade up to one month before the party and making Browned Butter Mashed Potatoes two days ahead. Budget watchers, we give you less expensive ingredient and decoration options. Dress the table with grocery store flowers, votive candles, and big glass bowls for huge impact without the fuss. Ask a guest or two to come early to light candles, make the Pink Lemonade Cocktail, and toss the salad. You'll be relaxed and ready for fun. 

Schedule for Success
 1 Month Before:


2 Days Before:


1 Day Before:


1 ½ Hours Before:


50 Minutes Before:


20 Minutes Before:


"Dinner Is Ready" is from the Home for the Holidays 2007 issue of Southern Living.