The holidays are just around the corner, and that means hosting some pretty big dinners! Not looking forward to all that work and stress again this year? The sleepless nights, the frantic cleaning, the cramped space, the noisy children? Well, take some of the stress out of your holiday dinner party with these ten tips to help be prepared for your day stress free.
1. Write out a meal plan ahead of time. Include everything from appetizers, desserts, party trays, dinner, and all the fixins’. You can use your menu to create a more accurate and cost effective, grocery shopping list. Also include paper plates, napkins, forks, spoons, cups, etc. on your shopping list. If your will be using tossable plates and forks, a general rule of thumb, is to buy 4x the plates as the number of guests (ex: 10 guests = 40 plates). This will allow for mishaps, dessert, and for guests to have a plate of left overs later in the evening.
2. Set a “Schedule” and try to stick with it. Plan an arrival time and a dinner time for your guests. Remember to allow time for guests to arrive, socialize, eat appetizers, eat dinner, and relax.
3. Clear out the clutter! Make a clean sweep over your house well in advanced. Clearing out all of the daily clutter that collects over time (Don’t forget inside the refrigerator). Start your cooking/baking with a clean kitchen. Rinse dishes as you go. Create an open floor plan that will allow for guests to mingle and socialize without feeling cramped, and a place for all the coats, purses, etc. to be placed.
4. Use disposable trays, utensils, plates, cups, baking/roasting pans to help cut down on the dishes that will need to be washed. Make sure to have baggies, tinfoil, plastic wrap, or tupperware available for storing left overs.
5. Do your prep work the day before. Slice your veggies, peel potatoes, boil your eggs. Make your cold dips and appetizers. Bake your pies, cakes, and cookies. Set up your tables and chairs, decorations, tablecloths, and candles the night before. Don’t forget to set your automatic coffee maker, so you can wake up to a hot and ready, fresh brewed cup of joe.
6. Define your eating stations. Place a small table at an easy access point to display party trays, punch bowl, finger foods, etc. for your guests to enjoy until dinner is ready. This will help keep people out of the way in the kitchen and satisfied until dinner. Use a seperate table as the buffet table for an easy self-serve dinner line. Place your dinner table for guests to eat at, in a large area allowing space for guests to easily get in and out.
7. Create a kid friendly space for little ones to play with toys, games, and watch movies to help keep them occupied. Set up a kid friendly table for them to eat and play at. For easy and kid friendly holiday craft project ideas, click here.
8. The early bird gets the worm! Go to bed at a decent hour and set your alarm clock an extra 30 min. early to allow you some quiet time to start your day, before everyone else starts stirring. Sit and enjoy a cup of coffee, read the paper, or go for a quick walk. Just do something that will help clear your mind and help you get focused for your busy day.
9. Make sure to charge your batteries for cameras, phones, and other items ahead of time, so you can capture the memories that will be made this year.
10. Be realistic! Not everyone is a Martha Stewart. Plus, she has a lot of assistants!! So, unless you have some good helpers…….Keep It Simple! A little really does go a long way! If you try and do too much you will exhaust yourself and will not be able to enjoy the day you are working so hard for. Allow friends and family to help and don’t be too proud to ask for help. Your guests will be glad to help and thankful for all your hard work.
Keep these tips in mind when planning your next holiday meal. Whether it be for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or any other dinner party, they will help you create a stress free time that you and your guests are sure to enjoy!