Yes, holiday entertaining can get chaotic—particularly preparing and timing the culmination of a delicious meal for all to enjoy… ALL AT ONCE! But we believe the holiday season should be about spending quality time with friends and family and actually having fun! So, we’ve gathered a list of simple tips & tricks to help you ditch the stress and ensure your entertaining goes off without a hitch!
First & Foremost, Forget Perfection
We put way too much pressure on ourselves during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Hold onto some perspective going into the season to keep stress at bay and ensure you too can eat, drink and be merry!
Keep that Fridge Orderly
… for your own peace of mind! Some of our favorite tips come from PureWow.com… here’s a few highlights:
- Use clear containers so you know exactly what needs to be used, restacked or simply tossed. Glasslock has a great line of glass containers that go straight from the oven to the fridge, to the microwave and back again (a great way to lessen the dirty dish count!).
- Keep your raw meets on the bottom shelf so they don’t leak onto shelves below or, set meats in pans to collect any juices that may escape.
- Know your crisper drawers! Fruits go in low-humidity, veggies in high humidity—and ditch the plastic bags as they’ll only assist in spoiling fruits and veggies before their time.
- Save room by knowing what not to chill. Potatoes, onions, apples and garlic don’t require refrigeration! That should save you quite a bit of space.
Stage Your Table & Self-Service Stations with Designated Serving Dishes
- First, pair menu items with serving dishes ahead of time. This way you’ll know if you need to borrow or purchase anything before your day of entertaining. This also helps you pepper meeting points around the house and away from the busy kitchen.
- Second, designate a space for cocktails and a couple spots for appetizers. Guests can then feel free to help themselves at will. Be sure to include all necessary items for self-service: ice and cups for the cocktails, small plates, napkins and toothpicks for the appetizers, etc.
Decorate In Advance
Once you know where people will be congregating, and which spaces will be occupied by self-serving dishes, you can decorate! Both these tasks can be done a day or two in advance—set it and forget it!
This is HUGE! It takes pressure off you, allows willing guests to feel truly helpful, and maintains both flow and organization throughout the day. Designate tasks in advance so guests (and your own family) know what to expect before the day gets hectic. What tasks can you hand off? Here’s a few ideas!
- Stay on top of the Trash & Recycling.
- Deliver serving dishes to the dinner or buffet table.
- Keep the bar/cocktail area properly stocked.
- Keep appetizer areas properly stocked.
- If you’re doing a sit-down dinner, ask the kids to take orders from the adults and deliver them to the kitchen for plating.
- Deliver plated food to guests.
- Clear the table.
- Scrape dishes.
- Load Dishwasher/Wash dishes.
- Dry dishes.
- Put dishes away.
Clean As You Go
This is key to your piece of mind! Wash, wipe, stack, put away… repeat! I usually have a right-hand man (my sister) to tag team on this one, which lifts an enormous amount of pressure from the entire day.
Dishwasher or Hand Wash?
After a large dinner—both! So what to stack into the dishwasher and what to tackle by hand? For efficiency and flow, we recommend the following:
- After emptying, scraping and rinsing is complete, set your cookware and bakeware off to the side to soak. Grab Green’s Cookware & Bakeware Cleaner pods are a great match for this task! Utilize these bathing containers to also soak other hard to tackle items such as caked-on serving spoons.
- Properly load the dishwasher with plates, utensils, cups & bowls.
- Save wine glasses, plastics, wood and large serving dishes for hand washing.
Items made of certain materials should never be run through the dishwasher, such as wood, plastic and aluminum. Want a thorough breakdown of best dish-washing practices? Check out our article Save Time & Money by Loading Your Dishwasher Properly the First Time
Bring Your Own Doggie Bags… leftover containers, that is. Ask your guests in advance to arrive with their own doggie bags. This simple request will save you from over-stuffing your fridge and over-stuffing yourself over the next few days; you won’t need to concern yourself with having enough containers to go around or getting yours back.
Now, sit back and relax…. Think in stages—not everything has to be taken care of immediately! Go enjoy a glass of wine or cocoa, your guests and your family—savor the moment while it lasts.
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