Whether you’re setting your table for 10 or two, the dizzying chaos of moving parts and coordination needed to bring a holiday meal together is unavoidable—even in 2020. In the spirit of making your celebration (and celebration prep) a little easier, we tapped eight of our go-to entertaining pros to share the tools that turn them into expert hosts. Among their picks: multifunctional cookware, unexpected gadgets, even a cast-iron skillet you really shouldn’t travel without. You’ll feel invigorated to get in the kitchen, create your best meal yet, and rediscover everything you’re grateful for this season—all around the (socially distanced) dinner table.
Sarah Schneider, Founder, Egg Shop
What’s more exciting than being with your loved ones and sharing your favorite food and recipes? In my family, we all choose a side to make and bring over to whomever is hosting that year. The side dishes get cooked up and transferred to platters. Platters! From a cheese board starter to classic stuffing, they need homes to live. Some people might prefer matching trays, but I love to mix it up. It speaks to the person who brought the dish and whatever is inspiring them this year.
Kate Berry, Executive Creative Director, Domino
Because I live in a small apartment with minimal storage and space, this hand blender is one of my most useful tools, and it’s easy to clean and store.
Heather Taylor, Founder, Heather Taylor Home
My hunter green enamel Dutch oven is one of my most beloved entertaining essentials year-round, but especially for the holidays. I use it to make chestnut apple stuffing, and then it’s pretty enough to bring straight to the buffet for serving.
Brady Tolbert, Creative Director and Prop Stylist
When it comes to entertaining, there is nothing easier and more presentable than throwing together a quick charcuterie board for your guests. I love a board that has a handle or some decorative details, so that when it isn’t being used it can double as an everyday cutting board.
Ajiri Aki, Founder, Madame de la Maison
I love appetizer platters with multiple compartments, because you can separate different nibbles and keep everything nicely presented. Also, it’s even better if there are handles, so you can move them from one table to another.
Elisa Marshall, Founding Partner and Creative Director, Maman
Though the holidays are mostly about the food, I always give extra points for presentation. And after all the time that goes into baking a turkey, you want to make sure it looks beautifully carved on the plate, too! You may not use it often, but a carving set is a great investment for seasonal meals or large roasts.
Kirthanaa Naidu, Content Creator and Tablescape Designer
This holiday season my essential tool is a food dehydrator—especially since we have more time on our hands while working from home. I use it to create unique decorations for a whole host of things, from dried oranges I can sew onto wreaths to dried pineapple slices I can use to garnish margaritas! It’s incredibly easy to use: Just cut the fruit you want to dehydrate into relatively thin slices, then place them in the machine. Several hours later you have beautiful dried fruits to use for decorating cakes or to give a festive, seasonal feel to food-spread designs.
Colu Henry, Author, Back Pocket Pasta
I don’t leave home without my well-seasoned 12-inch cast-iron skillet. I actually mean that! I packed it to take to Nova Scotia, where I’ll be for the holidays this year. I use mine to cook pretty much everything—to roast a chicken, to make skillet stuffing, or to simply roast vegetables. It’s also great for making cornbread. I love the way the skillet evenly conducts heat, acting almost as a plancha (if taken care of), and how it transfers effortlessly from stovetop to oven. I also embrace its rusticity and encourage using one as a serving vessel for a side, which means you have one less dish to clean at the end of your meal!