5 Tips For The Hassle-Free Holiday Hostess
Are you hosting Christmas dinner this year? I am and I’m really excited about it! I’m looking forward to hanging out in the kitchen with my sisters, baking rolls, mashing sweet potatoes, cleaning greens, etc., while my mom watches us continue the legacy of love through cooking that has been in my family for generations.
Maybe you’re not as excited as I am. I get it. It’s a lot of hard work and you’re exhausted by the time the meal is actually on the table. Until you’ve done it, I mean done it all, the cleaning, the cooking, the organizing, the planning, you have no idea what a job that hosting really is – a really big job….
I know because I have done it. Many times. And I’m always happy to share what I have learned. I have blogged on this subject before, (see my posts below) but each time I host, I learn something new.
I look at hosting as a gift, a gift that you give to family and friends. Let’s make this an easier gift to give….
Here are my 5 Tips For The Hassle-Free Holiday Hostess
1. Cook Ahead and Freeze. Really.
(If you are a food snob, you might need to hold your nose, but keep reading.)
I remember the first Christmas dinner I cooked. The 24 hours leading up to Christmas dinner were just a blur, trying to cook every dish and have it hot and ready in time for the big meal. By the time I got the food on the table, I needed to go to bed! Thank God for progress.
Now, instead of standing over the stove on Christmas Eve, you might just as well find me standing in front of the freezer. Many Christmas dinner dishes are casseroles or “make aheads.” Make that casserole now and pull it out a day or two ahead to defrost in the fridge – no one but you will know that you made it two weeks ago; it tastes just the same. Just refresh the seasonings and you are good to go! And while the food snobs are still slaving in the kitchen, you will be having a cup of tea with your friends!
2. Have Pre-Made Snacks Ready for Pop-In Guests.
“You don’t have to get ready if you stay ready.”
This is a good rule for all year round, not just Christmas. It’s always nice to have something to offer guests, even unexpected (or uninvited) ones. Their impromptu arrival may not give you time, or you may not have the ingredients, to pull something together. Again, the freezer is your friend. I usually keep some cookie dough and onion soufflé dip in the freezer ready to be pulled out and popped into the oven.
3. Homemade Is Not Required
“It doesn’t matter what’s on the table, but in the chairs around it.”
DO NOT stress yourself out thinking you have to do it all. Really, you don’t. Hosting doesn’t mean you have to cook everything, it just means that it’s your job to coordinate that it’s there; how it gets there doesn’t matter. I have done it every which way. I have cooked it all, catered it all, potlucked it all and a combination of all of the above. Here’s the secret to making it all work: before the meal, announce the rules of the house. Whoever complains has to host next year! (That will really shut ‘em up!)
4. Live By The List
Unless you have a brain like a steel trap, and God forbid that you should have a pre-menopausal brain, there is no way you can host Christmas without a list. Make one, add to it as you think of things, and mark them off when they are done. It will save you from the eye roll your kids give you when you ask them to run to the grocery store. Again.
5. Let It Slide
We put so much pressure on ourselves trying to make everything perfect for our family and friends. Fuhgetaboutit! My most memorable party was one that ended with people throwing food at each other! (From Dinner Party Disaster To Best Party Ever.) So, you forgot to put the pineapple rings on the ham, or the kitchen floor didn’t get swept before the guests arrived (this is always my issue), it’s not critical. What people really want is the comraderie of friends and family. So don’t sweat the small stuff, enjoy this once a year gathering of the people you love most.