Each year, millions of Americans look forward to the time that joyous time of year where they can pin a sock to their mantel and bring an oversized pine-tree into their homes. It’s hallmarked as a time of appreciation, giving, and peace. However, every year families are struck with the pressure to entertain their friends and family- and this pressure increases more and more each year.
What is supposed to be a time of love and laughter turns into an anxiety ridden event that can be frustrating for everyone. Although the pressure is extremely prominent, there are a number of steps that people can take to turn their holiday frustrations into the relaxing and magical time it is meant to be.
Planning is incredibly important, but sometimes the details can get easily overlooked. Remembering all the things you have to buy and get, what a chore! Begin with a simple way to take notes, whether it’s on your phone, or a notepad, record everything you need.
How many people are coming over? What dishes do you have to make? Record all of the ingredients in your notes, that way when it’s time to cook, you won’t be overwhelmed about finding ingredients last minute. Take special note on how many guests your recipes feed! There’s nothing worse than having not enough of that ‘hit’ green bean casserole. If your guests drink alcohol (but there are virgin holiday cocktails also,) don’t forget your holiday classics like Hot Taddy’s and a good Egg Nog if you want to impress!
Prioritize and Delegate
Nothing says “I’m a Christmas Chef Ramsay” like having a beautiful spread, with all of the sides completed at the same time.
Although prioritizing should also be done at the planning stage, it needs to continue throughout the entire preparation process. Figure out what needs to go in the oven first, and then work from there. It can sound daunting to do this, so take out those notes again and prioritize. Write down the order of things that need to get done, and start having a crack at checking them off.
One of the best ways to ease the stress of having guests over, is to spread the workload within your family. Take charge of the situation and employ your siblings. Time to peel potatoes little sis! Don’t have anyone to help? Invite one (or a few) of your guests over early, and promise them food before anyone else arrives at your home. Also, let your guests know that they are welcome to bring food over, this can at least lower the workload (and costs).
So you know what you’re making, recipes have been read, and the ingredients have been accounted for; it’s time to get it done. A pro-tip, to ease the stress during the big day start decorating a few days prior, this will help your brain remember any last minute items. It’s also a huge psychological boost to wake up the day of cooking and look around and see how much you’ve already completed!
If you’re nervous about making a dish you’ve never made before, don’t stress it, just follow the recipe to the last word. Another pro-tip, don’t over season your dishes. Just remember, you can always add more salt, but taking it out is much harder. Should you find yourself in that situation though, sometimes diluting the recipe by making more of it can have tremendous effects, of course this works much better on casseroles that baked goods (unless you catch it before you throw it in the oven!)
If your guests start arriving, and they are growling for food before it’s completed, throw some chips and dip, or cheese and crackers on the table. Hopefully it will slow the beasts appetite long enough for your grandiose meal to be completed. Oh, and if clean up is stressing you out, there are a ton of holiday themed disposable dishware and cups that can cut down the cleaning in half, as long as you’re willing to take out the garbage a few times that night.
Remember, holidays are stressful enough already, so follow those simple steps to keep your guests happy and your sanity in check. If you took the advice on adult beverages, don’t be surprised how much guests won’t care about the turkey being a bit too dry.