Tis the season for festive parties and get-togethers! While holiday events can be a lot of fun, they can also create a lot of stress! Here are some tips to consider when planning your next holiday gathering:
1. Plan ahead- the difference between a relaxed, fun event and a totally chaotic event is in the PLANNING! So grab a paper and pen and start writing down every detail you can think of: the date, the guest list, the menu, decor ideas, serving pieces needed, other items needed for games/activities.
2. Keep it simple- After you have written out your plans, cross off the list anything that might take too much time, energy, or resources. Remember it’s YOUR party, so keep it easy so YOU will have fun.
3. Prepare familiar recipes- If you are cooking for the party, choose to serve dishes that you have made many times before. Never let your guests be “guinea pigs” for your latest Pinterest recipe… always go with what you know!
4. Prepare “make-ahead” dishes-The more you can do ahead of time, the better…so seek out great recipes that can be put together in advance, then heated before serving. This will make your party run smoothly, and you won’t be stuck in the kitchen the entire time!
5. Prepare “assembled” food platters- Some of the easiest menus include large beautiful platters that have been arranged with lots of no-cook items like: crackers, cheese, and fruit platters; or vegetables and dip; or a lovely anti-pasti platter with deli meats and cheeses and olives. I love making beautiful dessert trays with an assortment of sweets purchased from the store or made ahead of time.
6. Prepare ingredients ahead of time- If you must cook something right before serving it, at least have all the “prep” work done before you start cooking. Sometimes it’s all the chopping and dicing that takes the longest, so have everything ready to go and cooking will be a breeze!
7. Plan a pot-luck style meal- Some of the easiest (and most fun) parties are when you share the work with a few friends. Why not throw a tapas-style party, where everyone brings their favorite appetizer? If you are hosting the holiday meal, you could fix the main dish (turkey, ham or beef) and ask guests to bring a side dish.
8. Enlist helpers- Create work stations in your kitchen and give friends and family members certain tasks/recipes to complete. I t’s always fun to help out in the kitchen at a friend’s house!
9. Create a timeline- To avoid being totally stressed by the time your guests arrive, make a simple timeline of everything that needs to be accomplished before the party- things like: clean the house, defrost the meat, put casserole in oven, etc… You may even need to start your timeline a day or two before the event depending on everything you have to do.
10. Set up the night before- Whenever possible, set up your dining tables and buffet tables in advance, this will eliminate last-minute dashes to the store for extra napkins, silverware, or serving dishes.
Best of luck with your upcoming holiday parties and gatherings and remember to keep it simple.
Click here for more resources and my printable Stress Less Holiday Planner with everything you need to get organized and ready for a more meaningful and memorable holiday season!
And join me every Thursday this month for more “stress less” holiday tips!!