We had a great Thanksgiving dinner with family this year. My Thanksgivings in Ireland are different than those in the U.S. & being the only American around, I host Thanksgiving every year. I also love hosting dinner parties, Christmas dinner & other holidays. In this post, I’m going to share my holiday hosting tips with you!
In my Dinner Party Tips post, I focus on non-holiday parties where you can opt for easier choices. With a holiday, there are so many side dishes & courses & you want everything to turn out perfectly so there can be added pressure on the hosts. Here are my tips to help things run smoothly.
Holiday Hosting Tips:
1. Make lists.
a. Make a list of everything that’s to be served with each course. Include every little detail because it’s easy to forget something. If it’s all written down, then it’s easy to reference while you are cooking & serving. I even include things like cranberry sauce, after eight mints, tea, etc.
b. Use the above list to make your shopping list. Reference your recipes to make sure you have all of your ingredients accounted for.
c. Make a cooking schedule. Count back from the time you want to serve the dinner. I start with the meat. For example, if I’m serving dinner at 6pm & the turkey takes 4 hours then I have to place it in the oven at 1:00 to allow enough time to cook & rest. It’s so hard to remember everything that needs to be done, especially with kids running around & people arriving. When it’s written down you can just refer to your schedule. Here’s an example:
12:30 Preheat oven to 200c
1:00 Turkey in the oven
4:30 Cook starter
5:00 Start cooking potato. Check turkey. Serve starter.
5:30 Stuffing, roasties, sweet potato in the oven. Turn on carrots & sprouts.
6:00 Serve Dinner
2. Put the kids to work.
There are plenty of jobs that kiddies can do to help out. Some ideas:
a. Peeling carrots & other veg.
b. Placing chopped veg into the pot.
c. Setting the table.
d. Stocking the bathroom with toilet roll & a clean towel.
e. Sweeping the floor.
f. Tidying their toys.
3. Get things ready ahead of time.
For Christmas, I want to enjoy the day so I do as much the day ahead as possible. I prefer having all of the prep done before I start cooking. It makes things much smoother & less nerve wracking. Here is a list of things that can be done ahead:
a. Set the table.
b. Peel & chop all of your veg. Leave them each in their pot that they will be cooked in, covered with water. When you are ready to cook, strain off all the water & put in fresh.
c. I partially cook my roast potatoes the day ahead. I steam them until they are just soft, toss in butter, oil, salt, pepper & rosemary then leave them in the fridge. The next day simply lay them on a tray & cook.
d. Make your dessert & starter the day ahead too if possible. If not, chop & prepare the ingredients for fast assembly on the holiday.
e. Any other details like candles, decorations, moving chairs etc – do as much as you can the day before so you enjoy the holiday.
f. There are more ideas of things you can get read in advance on my dinner party tips post.
My Thanksgiving 2015:
I used the three above tips when I hosted Thanksgiving & plan to do the same for Christmas.
Children were put to work! All three are excellent carrot peelers! Things were peeled, chopped & prepared ahead of time, ready to be cooked. The peelings bowl was full to the top by the end of prep, ready for the composter. Everything was in its pot or on its tray ahead of time, ready to be cooked.
The table was set, toys put away & the place tidied up ready for guests to arrive.
In case you are wondering how all of the pots & trays of food came together, here is a peek at our three courses. We had Capri Salad for starter. It’s easy to make, light & tasty before a big meal. For the main course, we had turkey, stuffing, mashed potato, carrot, parsnip, sprouts, roast potato, smashed sweet potato, gravy & cranberry sauce. For dessert, my sister in law & niece made us delicious brownies & pavlova.
Do you do any of these things to help your holiday hosting go smoothly? Do you have any tips to add? x