Entertaining: Surviving the Holidays
When it comes to entertaining during the Holidays, there are often certain expectations and many of these are self-imposed.
Here are some tips to help you survive your Holiday dinner parties - whether you are having guests around for dinner or a big family traditional meal. Not all of these tips will apply to every occasion, but even if you pick two or three for a specific meal, they will help your day go smoother and most of all - be more enjoyable for you:
- Limit the number of side dishes you serve to four. Often you will feel compelled to make "everthing for everyone", but limiting it to four removes much of the stress, there will be less leftovers, and it will leave your guests with room for dessert.
- Only choose one new recipe to try, and then prepare a couple of others that you have prepared before - it is a lot less stress.
- Choose a mix of recipes - ones that can be prepared ahead of time and others that need to be served immediately. This is especially useful if you have limited refrigerator or oven space.
- Serve your favorite side dishes.
- Traditions are great but use them as a guideline to do the things you really want to do and enjoy - don't do something because you've always done it or because you think you have to.
- Share tasks with guests, it will make them feel useful and it will help you. Delegate tasks such as clearing dishes, preparing vegetables, serving drinks, stacking the dishwasher - you may be the host but you don't have to do everything.
- Be considerate of guests with dietary constraints. If you have a vegetarian coming for dinner, perhaps even ask them to bring their favorite main dish - be sure to ask what it is and how it needs to be heated so that you can plan for it.
- Have a plan for the day. Start with the time that you want to sit down to eat and then work backwards to make sure that you have everything prepared in time. Make sure that you include preparation time for all the dishes being served and also allocate time for you to get ready before your guests arrive (see the last tip).
- Serve store bought dishes that can be dressed up to make them look homemade or prepare recipes that just need to be assembled.
- Face the fact that everyone is probably going to be in the kitchen with you, so make space for them and tuck some seating out of your way.
- Let people know what is going to be served for dinner by writing on a blackboard or on a large piece of paper and placing it in the area you are going to be serving dinner.
- Before everyone arrives, take an hour out to get ready and to relax before everyone arrives - a bubble bath works wonders!