The date is circled in red: the day of the big feast. This year, everyone’s coming over to your house for the big event. But just the thought of getting ready raises your pulse and sends a surge of stress through your system.
This time, bring a new mindset to your holiday gathering. You’re putting so much effort into it because you care about your family. This is, after all, a time of year when making memories matters. Which means you deserve a chance to enjoy yourself. But if the night-before preparations of cooking and cleaning keep you up past midnight, you’ll show up feeling stressed and tired at your own party!
This time, show up feeling just as relaxed and ready to enjoy the food as your guests. You don’t have a team of servants or magic elves to help, but the next best thing is smart planning. Implement these time-saving strategies to take the stress out of the frantic final hours before the feast.
Get assistance from the freezer
Experienced cooks know there’s no need to save up all the cooking and baking for the day of the feast. A week before the big event, set aside a day or two for a marathon cooking session, because things like sides, sauces, gravies and desserts can all be put together ahead of time and placed in the freezer. Then you can save the baking and roasting for the day of the feast. Tip: For things that will go from freezer to oven, be sure you have high-quality bakeware that won’t shatter. For example, OXO Good Grips Glass Bakeware is made from borosilicate glass, which is engineered to withstand extreme temperature changes.
Be your own sous-chef
Cooking for a crowd means there will be lots of cutting, slicing, chopping and measuring. Before you start, do all that prepping at one time and consolidate where you can. For example, if you have three dishes that require chopped onion, do all the onion chopping at once. When you’re done, just store it in a glass lidded container. The OXO Smart Seal glass containers can keep your dishes and ingredients fresh and neatly stacked in your refrigerator.
Round up your helpers
A family feast begins with a good plan … and lots of delegation. At least a few weeks beforehand, draw up a master to-do list of things you need to do to get the house ready for guests, from cleaning to decorating to setting the table. Hand out tasks to different family members so everyone plays a role. One easy way to do this is to put each family member in charge of a room to clean and prepare. For example, one can take bathroom duty, making sure it’s clean, stocked and company-ready, while another takes on the family room. Hang this list in a common area, so tasks are crossed off as they’re completed.
Order the food
This year, skip the hours of shopping at the grocery store, and try ordering everything on your list online. Whether you opt for a delivery service, or try a grocer’s curbside pickup option, you’ll miss out on the stress of finding parking, nudging your cart through the crowded produce section and waiting in long lines. This will save you time and stress.
The night before, set the table
Nothing beats waking up the morning of the big feast and seeing that your table is ready for company. The place settings are arranged just so, the wine glasses are shining and the serving dishes and utensils are laid out. All you have left is baking, warming and roasting, leaving you with plenty of time to get ready. You may even have time in the morning to relax over that extra cup of coffee!