There’s a lot that goes into making a celebratory meal. These big event meals don’t just happen. You plan a menu, figure out how to make the different dishes (if you haven’t made them before), shop, prepare, cook, set the table and the list goes on. Wow! I’m exhausted just writing about it! This list of things to do to prepare the meal for others is endless. The one thing not on the list is that you want to be able to enjoy the meal just as much as everyone else!
The key to making a celebratory meal and enjoying it is all in the planning.
Here are my 5 tips for you to follow so that you can make celebratory meals this holiday season and enjoy them, too!
Plan your menu
Take the time to thoughtfully plan the menu for your dinner. Include at least one dish that you have successfully made before. This reduces the amount of time you’ll spend thinking about this aspect of the meal.
Also, include a dish that can be made in advance. Some recipes tell you that this dish can be made the day before, refrigerated and then cooked or reheated.
Another option is to cook the main dish and order the sides from a restaurant you like. My son and daughter-in-law are doing that. I thought that was a brilliant idea. He’s picking up the sides for Christmas Dinner during the day on Christmas Eve.
Create a festive table setting
Clean up and then set the table. Be sure to use the good china even if it just you and your partner. Buy flowers, balloons, candles, or whatever will help you create the festive look you want to achieve.
Put down a tablecloth or a runner down the center of the table if you have one. A thin blanket or a white sheet can also work in place of a tablecloth. Search Pinterest for interesting ways to fold a napkin for some added decoration on the table.
If your child likes to draw, ask them to create place cards for the family. That will not only give them something to do but will also get them involved in helping to prepare for this celebratory meal.
Make a detailed shopping list
Write out a list of the things you need to buy for your celebratory meals. If you are making more than one festive dinner take all the meals into consideration when making your shopping list.
Shop from your pantry first. Don’t spend money on things you already have in stock. Then create a list of non-perishable items followed by a separate list of things that will spoil if you buy them too far in advance.
Remember to include things like batteries (for toys that might need them) and candles that may burn low during the first festive dinner.
Having these separate lists removes the worry that you may have forgotten something.
Check in with your favorite shops and find out their holiday hours. The stores near me are closing early on Christmas and New Year’s Eves and are closed on Christmas and New Year’s Days.
Make a detailed timed list of what to cook, when to start it, when it will be done
Starting the day before your meal figure out what dish to cook first and how long it will take. Decide what you can do while one dish is cooking.
Create a time sheet so you know when you need to be in the kitchen and when you can be celebrating with your family.
Cooking a meal like this is a little bit like putting on a play. Some things are center stage and require lots of attention while others are waiting in the wings.
When you know in what order things happen to make a successful meal, you can relax and enjoy not only the process but also the meal itself.
Enlist clean up help
We know that lots of work goes into preparing the meal and that it takes significantly less time to eat the meal than it does to either prepare it or clean up.
Don’t be left washing dishes by yourself.
Enlist helpers to clear the table, wash, dry and put away the dishes.
You’ll also need help stashing the leftovers.
Make sure you let your family members, or your partner know that you would greatly appreciate their assistance. People are usually willing to help if they know what you are asking them to do and that their help is wanted.
Creating and producing a delicious celebratory meal for your family can be a joyful thing to enhance the festive mood of the day. You, as the chef, want to be able to enjoy the day as much as the rest of the group. Take the time to do your planning, make your lists, and figure out the timing of the dishes so that you are relaxed and not stressed. Use the simple organizing strategy outlined above to give yourself peace of mind as you go about cooking the celebratory meals for and with your family. Click here to read more blogs on using simple organizing strategies.
Diane Quintana, co-owner of Release Repurpose Reorganize, LLC., is a Certified Professional Organizer, A Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, an ADHD organizing specialist, a hoarding specialist, a blogger, and author. Click here to contact Diane or follow Diane on Facebook: Ask the Organizers Diane and Jonda.