You’ve already planned the biggest celebration of your life, and now it’s time to tackle the holidays! This may be even more stressful than wedding planning but not to worry; we’ve mapped it out. This month we are helping you prepare for a foolproof holiday season.
TWO TO THREE WEEKS BEFORE
Make a plan
This may seem obvious, however, you’ll feel much better if you start planning early! Sit down and plan out the little details, talk about a timeline of events for when your guests arrive. Think about where you want guests to sit, and where you want to place your food (will you serve your meals family style or buffet style). With more than eight guests, buffet style is the easiest way to go—especially if you’re short on space.
Create a menu
At the center of every celebration, there is one common denominator; food. When creating a menu, go for recipes that are simple and familiar—think of your favorite Sunday dinner. While it’s fun to have one unique item at your meal, go for a signature cocktail, not a brand new recipe that you’ve never tried before. Once your menu is set, write out your grocery list. You should divide the list into perishables and nonperishables to make shopping and storing easier.
Confirm your guest list
Take note of how many people are coming to your house, and in that list, how many are children. From there, ask people to help, it’s not unreasonable to ask guests to bring a dish—and often, they will offer!
Set the table
Taking care of this task in advance saves you a little bit of stress on the day-of. If you can’t set it an entire week in advance, shoot for a few days ahead. Have place cards ready if you’ll all be sitting at one table to avoid any confusion.
Pro-tip: Place yourself close to the kitchen. It’s best to split up couples for a lively dynamic, but keep small children between their parents.
Bonus tip: Seat lefties at corners, where they’ll have room to eat without banging elbows.
You’ve already made your list so, head to your local grocery store and get some of your shopping out of the way. Grocery shopping is not the most exciting part of hosting an event but, there is nothing worse than last-minute shopping. If you shop about five to six days in advance, you should have little-to-no issues with your perishable items.
Pro-tip: Consider passing off dessert to a guest or a local bakery. The awesome bakery you used for your wedding may be able to create another special dessert for you during the holiday season.
Prepare for overnight guests
Make sure you have fresh towels and linens on hand for overnight guests, and their room is ready to go. Plan out their space, leave all the necessities to make your loved ones feel comfortable in your home.
THE WEEK OF
Do you have a thermometer? Enough casserole dishes? What about plates and silverware? Ensure that you have all of the essentials before you dive into cooking.
For a stress-free holiday start cooking early! We cannot stress this enough. Gravy bases can be frozen, and casseroles and vegetables can often be cooked ahead and refrigerated for up to two days. If it can’t be cooked in advance, maybe it can at least be prepared. For example: your potatoes can be washed and ready to peel and mash.
THE DAY OF
Wake up early
This step also requires a good night’s rest, if you’ve planned accordingly the night before your celebration should be super relaxed. On the holiday, there is no sleeping in. Make a schedule, and stick to it. Most importantly: You want to be ready up to an hour before guests are scheduled to arrive because we all know; someone will always very early! Make sure the table or buffet is set, and more importantly, the drinks should be chilled. If you give yourself an hour-long buffer, you’ll save yourself a lot of scrambling.
Prepare every room in the house
Start with a clean kitchen—this means empty dishwashers and trash cans. Line your bins with more than one bag so that you have a fresh bag ready to go when one becomes full. Remove precious objects from the living room to save them from hyper nieces and nephews. Also, be prepared for messes; they happen, keep a couple stain-remover pens handy for guests and also napkins and towels for small spills.
Don’t forget- Have fun!
The holidays are about being together, your family will be so grateful to share the first holiday season with you. Take a deep breath and soak it all in, even if you burn the turkey or have to clean up stains for the rest of the year. Enjoy the time you have with family and friends, and take note of funny stories to tell at next year’s dinner.
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