Hosting a holiday party doesn’t have to you in survival mode, and this season, there are several steps you can take to host a stress free holiday party.
Meal planning has been around forever, meal prep just as long and the most common time of year to see people plan ahead is during the holiday season. From Thanksgiving through the end of the year, parties are commonplace. Even someone as party adverse as me, I still enjoy hosting an event or two at my own home.
Now is the time to start thinking ahead, developing a plan if you’ll be opening up your home. Here are a few key takeaways to help make the meal planning process run smoothly, allowing you to focus your attention on other things.
What Kind of Party
The first thing to consider is if you will be having a sit down dinner or a buffet style party, with the freedom to move around.
- Is it family friendly?
- Couples only?
- Girlfriend get together?
Make a List
This is key to organization. Make a master list that will be your guide for the party. This is your reference sheet of what needs to be done and what tasks have been completed. Another great use for your master list is for delegation. Find what tasks you need to hand off to other people, and be open to asking for help. Most people WANT to help, so delegating can help lessen stress.
There are so many dietary limitations these days, it can be an immense challenge to appeal to all needs and desires. Obviously, dietary restrictions can be a limiting factor and you’ll have to take those into consideration when planning menus. It’s important to ask ahead, and sometimes, those with allergy issues will offer to bring a dish. Take them up on it!
Carnivore and Vegetarians
When creating your menu, consider dishes that appeal to carnivores and a couple that will appeal to vegetarians.
This doesn’t have to be complicated though, keeping it simple means you’ll hold on to your sanity. Vegetarian side dishes can easily appeal to all eaters – mashed potatoes, rice, corn on the cob, roasted mixed vegetables, etc.
Create a Schedule
This is probably the most important tool you’ll have at your disposal leading up to your event. Create a schedule that includes the following:
- Plan the Meal
- Grocery shop
- Determine what you are cooking ahead of time
- Day of Schedule – what will be handled each hour? Cleaning, cooking, setting up food area, sitting areas, etc.
Find at least one dish you can cook ahead and re-heat the evening of the party. This can be especially handy if you’re taking on desserts as well. Desserts can easily be made a day or two before the party. Soups and stews are also excellent options to have on the menu that can be made ahead.
Buy snacks in bulk to help save money. Nuts, pretzels and holiday candy are wonderful options to put in bowls throughout the party location.
Buy premade dips from the deli section of the store. Whole Foods has an excellent selection, especially during the holiday season. Grab a few boxes of crackers and you have the backbone of your appetizers.
Ask people to bring a dish. If you’re not big on desserts, then ask everyone to bring a dessert to share. On the other hand, if you love to bake, ask people to bring appetizers or side dishes. This can help you save money, time, and energy. It can be really fun to try new foods and who knows what you might discover you like.