The holidays are a wonderful time when families gather together and enjoy each other's company. However, it can be a source of stress, especially if you're the person hosting a group and preparing the food. Here are some hints for a stress-free holiday.
Create, Prep and Serve
Stations: Work from your menu and create stations to prepare and serve items. If your kitchen design includes an island, schedule how you will use it. The night before the big meal, it is the perfect place to prepare your make-ahead side dishes. During the actual holiday, it will have multiple uses. For example, early in the day it can hold plates of appetizers and snacks. Pull a couple of stools up to the island so your "helpers" can sit and chat with the cook while you continue preparations. Later in the day, use the island as your dessert and coffee bar.
Dedicate Refrigerator Space: A couple of days before the holiday you should make sure your fridge is ready. Toss out old food and clean out the shelves and drawers. Organize all of the things you'll need for the big meal in one location so they're easy to find. Be sure to put the items you'll use first nearest to the
front of the fridge. Leave lots of room to store dishes both before and after dinner; Remember, there are bound to be leftovers!
Maximize Counter Space: Put away items you won't need on the big day; that will give you more space to work. Then think about how you're going to use the existing counter space. If you are short on counter space, consider setting up a card table for the day and/or placing a large cutting board over your
sink. Get everything ready that you will need from saucepans to serving platters in advance. Make sure carving knives (that you've sharpened), potholders and cutting boards are within easy reach. HINT: Keep hand sanitizer, paper towels, and disinfectant spray next to the sink to keep your counters germ free.
Anticipate a Mess: Take out the trash and empty recycling bins before the meal so you'll have plenty of room for scraps and garbage. Empty the dishwasher, and put away the clean dishes. Figure out where you will put leftovers and dirty dishes. Have containers and foil ready to store the leftovers or to send them home with guests.
The tips above won’t guarantee an incident-free holiday, but they will help curb stressing before the big meal. One final tip: Enjoy your guests!
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