Simplify your holiday entertaining with these five easy tips.
Roast turkey, buttery mashed potatoes and sage stuffing. Sugar cookies, Thymes Frasier Fir, and a crackling fire. These festive scents fill our houses with warmth and joy during the holidays, signaling a time for family, friends and parties. While many cherished moments are born at winter gatherings, hosting one isn’t always as easy as pie. Start with these tips from our knowledgeable and experienced staff to help you get in shape for the holiday craziness.
1. Take Stock of Your Supplies
Plan your menu about three weeks before your party to hammer out any new dishes or special dietary needs early. Check that you have the cookware, silverware and dinnerware for everything and everyone you’re serving; if you’re feeding a crowd, you might need more glasses. Remember basics such as:
- Dishwasher detergent
- Plastic wrap, foil, extra containers for left overs
- Roasting pans and cookie sheets
- Garbage Bags
- Napkins and linens
Next, go through your pantry and refrigerator. Save yourself last-minute grocery sprints and make sure you have items such as:
- Cooking oil
- Coffee, tea, hot chocolate or cider
- Wine, beer, cocktail mixers, non-alcoholic selections
- Seasons and spices
- Baking essentials: flour, sugar, baking soda and powder
2. Make Sure Your Appliances are Clean and Working Properly
Test out your appliances well before the holidays to avoid any unneeded headaches. Clear out your dishwasher drain and run a cycle with a cup of white vinegar followed by a short, hot cycle with baking soda. Use your oven’s self-cleaning cycle at least three weeks before your party — especially if it’s older — rather than the day before. It gets very hot and could trigger a breakdown (for both of you). There is nothing more chaotic than cooking in a messy kitchen especially when your under stress.
3. Prep Early
Cook or prepare everything you can in advance so you can focus on the main dishes and holiday fun on the big day. You can prepare the following foods early to save time later:
- Cranberry sauce will keep in the fridge for about 10 days.
- Cook pumpkin, sweet potatoes or squash, puree and keep in the freezer until your ready to bake.
- Make your cookie dough, roll into balls or a log and freeze until your ready to bake.
- Wash, peel and chop your bigger veggies the night before.
4. Get your guests involved
Provide easy-to-eat appetizers and drinks to get the conversation flowing. Try a DIY cocktail bar with simple recipes or if there will be kids, a cookie decorating station.
5. Simplify cleanup
Plan your post-meal strategy so you’re not bombarded with an army of dirty dishes. Empty the dishwasher before guests arrive, and provide labeled buckets for food bits, dishes, glasses and cutlery to streamline loading. Line your roasting pans and baking sheets with foil to stop food bits from burning on, and fill your sink with hot, soapy water to soak cookware as you use it. Give surfaces a quick wipe-down, have to-go containers out and ready for leftovers and then relax and enjoy your company – most of the cleanup can wait until the next morning.