Daphne Oz Shares Her Entertaining Tips — From Hosting Do's to Cooking Don'ts

The lifestyle guru teamed up with Harry & David for a conversation about holiday entertaining, traditions and more

Daphne Oz is gearing up for the holiday season!

The TV host and author paired up with Harry & David for a conversation about all things entertaining — and revealed the holidays in her home can be a little wild.

"My mom is one of six kids and I'm one of four, so the holidays are all about loud, fun family time and getting everyone together for cards, board games, and movies," she tells PEOPLE.

Oz, who shares four childrenPhilomena, 7, Jovan, 6, Domenica, 3, and Giovanna, 2 — with husband John Jovanovic, said she and her family have plenty of holiday traditions that bring the gang all together, from baking "what feels like hundreds of batches of Christmas cookies" to participating in the Oz Family Football Game, which she describes as "a series of hilariously competitive matchups of shockingly even teams given how many little kids are playing!"

Decorating the house and making sure the halls are festively decked is also a tradition, Oz says.

Daphne Oz
Harry and David

"The kids start planning out what décor they want a month in advance, and they make tons of art and projects to hang on the walls," she shares. "They love it! The crazier and more colorful and over-the-top, the better."

Because she and her family live in Florida, Oz explains, they go pumpkin picking twice a year: "Once in early October for pie making and once later in the month for carving." And when December hits, she and her family pick out their Christmas tree and "have carols and classics playing all month long."

While family time is an important part of the holidays for Oz, she also knows how to throw a perfect party. She recommends having a pre-mixed drink as an "easy way to break the ice" and make guests "feel at home," while also ensuring that a killer playlist is at the ready.

"Music sets the mood, and you don't want to be frantically trying to choose the next song in the moment," she says.

And when it comes to food, she recommends "a simple start and finish."

"If I'm cooking the meal, I focus my energy on the main event and make sure that appetizers and dessert are delicious and delightfully easy," she said, listing olives, nuts, meat and cheese as some of her favorite small bites and chocolate, dried fruit and ice cream as her desserts of choice.

That said, she does tend to go all out when it comes to the main course.

daphne oz
Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images

"Food is obviously top priority, especially since so many of these dishes only show up once or twice a year and we have so many wonderful memories attached to these specific bites," she says. Some of her family favorites include roast turkey, a sausage-cornbread stuffing, maple-roasted root vegetables, creamed spinach, a kale salad with pomegranate seeds and pine nuts, mashed potatoes and corn pudding.

Also on the table every years, she says, is "my grandmother's famous Caesar salad," which she admits, "may not be the most traditional, but it wouldn't be a family gathering here without it!"

As for decorating, Oz likes to keep her table looking tasty too, scattering gourds, squash, and grapes during the fall and citrus — specifically the "ultra-lush" Harry & David Cushman's Honeybells® and Red Grapefruits — and pomegranates in winter months.

"All year long, I dress my table with edible décor," she explained. "It's easy to find and customize to the season and desired theme—plus it's fresh, beautiful, and good enough to eat, which always creates a fun and vibrant communal vibe."

She shares more of her favorite finds from the brand — from a charcuterie and cheese assortment to the chocolate caramel-covered appleshere.

And while entertaining is meant to be fun, Oz cautions people not to bite off more than they can chew this holiday season.

"The best rule of thumb for throwing a beautiful party and actually enjoying it is once guests are settled in, you get to be one of them," she says. "Don't attempt new dishes that are going to stress you out while hosting and don't try to do everything if you don't have the time."

She added, "I've been guilty of this so many times and kicked myself for trying to do too much when a simpler meal would have meant more time with the people I want to spend time with, and food that was just as satisfying and fun to eat."

In the end, Oz loves entertaining because it's an opportunity for her loved ones to "come together and truly connect."

"When the mood is festive, the food is delicious, the drinks are plentiful, and everyone feels looked after; the conversation flows, and everyone leaves full of so much more than a yummy meal," she said. "Creating the space where those lasting memories can happen means everything to me."

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