Welcome to my first blog, and happy holidays!
We are entering a fun and frenetic season, and many of you will be entertaining guests – whether it be extended family who are visiting from out of town or friends and neighbors who will be joining you for holiday meals. Much as you may love decorating your home, setting a fancy table, cooking a lavish dinner, and having company, the extensive preparation required can be daunting. So, I want to share a few holiday preparation suggestions and organizing tips that (hopefully) will make the holidays less stressful and more enjoyable for you.
Meal Planning Tips
If you will be hosting a holiday meal at your house this year, do your menu planning several days or a week or more in advance (depending on your personality type J).
- Prepare your grocery shopping list taking into account the ingredients you will need to prepare this meal.
- Tip – I find the shopping goes more smoothly if my list is organized to reflect the grocery store layout – this helps me avoid running laps around the store looking for things on my list. Also, if it will be necessary to go to more than one grocery store to find all the ingredients you need, prepare separate lists for each store.
- Reserve any specialty items ahead of time with your butcher or local grocer.
- Be sure to consider your guests’ dietary restrictions.
- Do not hesitate to ask family and friends to bring that special dish of theirs that everyone loves – they will be flattered to know they are making a special contribution to your celebration.
Table Setting Tips
- Plan ahead of time what you will use for a center piece (I can assure you from personal experience, it will throw you into a tizzy if you wait until the last minute to do this!) If you will use flowers, you may need to make a reservation in advance with the florist. If one of your guests is particularly creative, perhaps they can bring the center piece instead of a dish.
- Pull out the linens you will be using for the holiday meal ahead of time so that you can deal with any stains and wrinkles.
- Select the serving dishes and platters, along with the serving utensils, that you will need for the appetizers, main course and dessert. It may be helpful to put a note in each dish indicating how it will be used so that you don’t find yourself wondering in the chaos of meal preparation which dish was intended for what use.
- Set the table in advance – insert leaves in the table if necessary, see if the silver needs to be polished, set out place cards if you will designate seating, pull out the candles you plan to use, and if you are really motivated, place little party favors for each guest at the table.
- If you will be serving coffee with dessert, have the creamer and sugar bowl loaded and ready to go before your guests even arrive.
- Make it easy for your guests to help with the clean up – be sure the dishwasher is empty and ready to be loaded and be sure you have plenty of dishwashing liquid and clean dish towels available.
- If you have a separate sink in the kitchen, fill this with warm soapy water to pre-soak or hand wash the items that should not go in the dishwasher. Alternatively, you can fill a large pot (or perhaps even a cooler) with warm soapy water for this purpose.
- Have on hand supplies (plastic wrap, tin foil, plastic containers) to store your leftovers from the holiday meal as well as sending them home with your guests.
And most importantly, despite all the stresses that go along with planning for the holidays and entertaining family and friends, please remember to relax and have fun!
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