Thanks to the Three Gift Limit, my Christmas shopping is done and I’m ready to focus on the Christmas dinner menu. I want to serve a delicious meal in a festive atmosphere, so I need to formulate a plan of action that will allow me to get everything done without stress.
Though I’m not an event planning expert, I have hosted several wonderful holiday meals at my house. Each meal usually turns out better than the previous one because I’ve put a new planning strategy into practice.
In today’s post, I’m sharing these planning strategies with you. If you’re the hostess of this year’s Christmas meal, use these tips to help you plan a stress free breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner.
- Set a budget and stick to it. Be realistic about what you can afford. Yes, the cooking magazines and television chefs are showcasing beautiful cuts of prime rib but don’t buy one unless you can afford it. There’s no need to bust the budget with prime rib, when you can serve a tender, properly seasoned roast that will satisfy guests. Delicious and satisfying does not have to be expensive.
- Include familiar favorites in the menu. Part of the joy of the Christmas meal comes from being able to enjoy familiar, yet tasty favorites. If the family waits all year to enjoy a slice of your buttery pound cake or friends save up calories so they can savor your decadent macaroni and cheese, don’t disappoint them! Be sure to serve a few of those well loved favorites.
- Include recipes that can be prepped ahead of time. Don’t get stuck peeling potatoes on Christmas morning! Whenever possible get a head start. Make cookie batter in advance and freeze it until you’re ready to bake cookies. Chop all the vegetables ahead of time so they’ll be ready to add to your dishes.
- Don’t feel obligated to get fancy. Your Christmas meal does not need to rival the one being served at Martha Stewart’s house. Don’t add unnecessary pressure by trying to create a super fancy meal. While there’s nothing wrong with adding special touches to the table decor and preparing a few extraordinary dishes, if you’re going to be stressed out or miss quality time with the family by doing so, such preparation is not worth the effort.
- Consider your guests’ tastes. Is your sister-in-law a vegetarian? Consider serving a pretty salad. Did Dad give up beef 10 years ago? Wow him with a fabulous chicken dish. Are most of your guests children? Skip the pâté and serve a delicious onion dip instead. As you plan your menu, consider the tastes of the people who will be eating and be sure to include dishes they’ll be able to enjoy.
- Be aware of food allergies. Ask your guests, preferably in advance, about any food allergies they may have. Your triple nut chocolate chip cookies may be awesome, but consider whipping up a batch without nuts so guests with nut allergies can enjoy your cookies as well. If you must serve dishes with potentially allergy inducing ingredients, make sure guests know what they’re eating. No one wants to make a trip to the emergency room on Christmas Day!
- Organize your grocery list and hit the stores you need only once. Don’t let last minute planning force you to make a zillion trips to get what you need. Once you know what you want to serve, get your shopping lists in order and make a single trip to the supermarket, produce market, and florist. Proper planning means you’re more likely to catch sales and prevents the disappointment that comes from not being able to find the ingredients you need.
- Be willing to accept help. There are probably some things you prefer to do yourself, but find other ways for volunteers to help. I don’t want hubby to make the Christmas cookies, but he’s welcome to chop veggies for the stuffing and peel sweet potatoes for the casserole. Has someone offered to bring a dessert? Is Aunt Sallie willing to stir up a punchbowl of her famous Christmas Party Punch? Lighten your load by accepting their kind offers.
- Make sure you have room in the refrigerator and freezer. If you’re preparing things in advance, you’ll likely need storage space in both the refrigerator and freezer. Get rid of the leftovers so you’ll have ample space to store those pies and cakes until serving time.
- Check your table setting needs. If you’re using table linens, wash and iron them ahead of time. If you’re using your special flatware, get it ready. Pull it out and shine it up, so it’s ready to be used. Using paper plates, plastic utensils, and plastic tablecloths? There’s nothing wrong with that. Just make sure you purchase them in advance so you don’t have to run out and get them at the last minute.
For me, enjoying Christmas dinner with my loved ones is one of the best parts of the day. These tips have saved me from stress and disappointment. As you prepare your Christmas meal, I hope they’ll be helpful to you!
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© 2013 – 2014, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.