With Halloween coming, it is a great time to take a look at how prepared you are for hosting the many upcoming holiday dinners you might have to host. Whether you’re new to it or an old hand at it, holiday party hosting can be pretty easily summed up into a few simple ideas beyond just “make some really great food.” Here are five tips for planning the perfect holiday dinner party.
Make a List (and Check it Twice)
You need to know who is coming and what they can (and are willing to!) eat. Get in touch with everyone in advance, and make a spreadsheet showing who can eat what, who is bringing what, and you’ll quickly be able to figure out how much you’ll need of all your ingredients, and how long you’ll need to cook everything for. You may even want to start some things earlier in the week so that you can reheat things on the day. In case of any potential problems, just make sure everything matches up before you make that final grocery run.
Use Your Time Wisely
Once you have your shopping list ready for the big run, the next step is starting prep early. Doing your meal prep in the middle of the week is the best way to get a head start on the inevitable 11th-hour problems that come with any dinner party. As long as you have a little more food and spices than you think you need, you shouldn’t have any problems. Just make sure your fridge is cleaned out and ready for service, with room for more as the days get closer.
Set the Table Early
On the day, there’s nothing more annoying than having to set the table, decorate, etc, while everyone is still there. Having it set in advance not only takes that off your plate, but gives you the opportunity to assign seating, should that be necessary.
Slow Cookers are King
Not only will you free up counter space and critical stove top and oven space, but you’ll be able to keep dishes warm if you go with slow cookers for as many dishes as you can handle (and have slow cookers for). They often come in three-in-one designs, too, making for pretty simple prep, warming and serving.
Go Buffet Style
The bigger the party gets, the more important it is to not have one person serve, or to pass dishes. It gets messy, heavy, hot and annoying. Having a buffet lets everyone make their own choice, not burn their hands, and then settle in at the table (or in front of the TV) for a comfortable meal without the bicep workout. Don’t forget the sweet potatoes!
Cooking takes time, so anything that saves you a little time while also satisfying the needs of a room of hungry loved ones is huge. Learning to delegate is helpful, too, if you have people helping you cook. And never forget that it’s the holidays – make sure you’ve got enough on your plate, too.