An affordable idea on how to decorate your holiday table. I love decorating for events…
The holidays are approaching and as you begin to mentally prep your holiday meal I cannot speak enough about how there are many ways you can save time. Saving time for the holidays is something that I have learned over the years. You may not always get it right, but I want to make sure the holidays are an enjoyable time and not something you come to dread and regret.
This post is a little different than my usual, although I will be sure to remind you of my recipes. I’ll have a separate holiday recipe round-up later. When you are cooking during the holidays it can sometimes feel overwhelming to cook, host, and entertain all at the same time. It’s tough to know what to do first.
I talk about the art of hosting and cooking in my book From My Kitchen To Yours. I go into a lot of detail on setting up your table and table settings and hosting. Make sure you grab a copy if you haven’t already. I’d still like to share some tips to make your holiday dinner go smoothly.
- Set up your room days in advance. It’s a bit inconvenient as it interrupts your regular pattern but doing your set up the weekend prior or a few days prior saves time. There is nothing worse than setting up the same day and at the same time people are arriving. This is granted you at least have an idea of who is coming and how many people. When you are setting up your room, think about the flow of traffic and the proximity to the food and arrange accordingly.
- Use store-bought pie crusts. Look I get it, I even have a recipe for homemade pie crust but I’ll admit that making my own pie crust is a point of pride. Most people do not care. Save yourself a step and purchase them pre-made. I’m biased to the pillbury crusts and the frozen crusts as well.
- Buy prechopped vegetables. I will admit that I was super late on this. I would see the prechopped vegetables, examine the price and scoff. Now, I do not mind paying the extra 1-2 dollars for prechopped vegetables. They save me some time. I love to buy them freshly chopped but I am not above purchasing them frozen.
- Greens and Dressing can be made in advance: For most holidays, I have greens and dressing in my deep freezer from some holiday before. For greens, you make the greens completely then allow them to come to room temperature. You can make it almost to the point of putting in the oven and do not bake it for dressing. This will save you some time.
- Make your greens in the instant pot. One of my most popular recipes is making greens in the instant pot. I cannot stress enough, once you make greens in the instant pot you will never make them old school ever again. 30 minutes or less. Yup. And if you need to make a larger quantity, just take out the greens that are there and add more greens (the seasoning is even better second time around). You may need to add more liquid and seasoning, but be careful you do not over season the greens.
- Write out your entire menu. Writing out your entire menu gives you an opportunity to see everything you plan on cooking. This also gives you an opportunity to reassess your menu and make cuts or adjustments. I usually begin my holiday prep by planning a much larger meal than the one that makes it on the table. I realize that maybe I am the only person who eats a specific item, or I will think about the year prior and what dishes were not a “hit.” So I cut it. It is ok to be experimental, but not at the risk of time. Also, examine your own refrigerator and cabinets. You may not need to buy as many things as you already have.
- Take some time out: I remember when I hosted my first Thanksgiving. I was myself on steroids AND some. I happened to have a session with my therapist, and she told me- “how about you calm down?” LOL So, I did. Sometimes it can feel as if all things are happening at once, and you cannot stop. But- you can. No one is giving awards for someone who stayed up all night cooking. Take your time. It’ll be fine. I usually work out regularly during this time. I like to keep my body moving. Eat more healthy than usual, so my body isn’t sluggish.
- Ask for help. There are many ways to ask for help, either in your home or around your home.
- If you can afford it, hire a cleaning company to come before and after everyone leaves. Or definitely before. Having one less thing to do will bring some relief.
- If someone offers to bring a dish- LET THEM. Take something off of your plate. Particularly any items that are more “low level.” Now the turkey or the main dish? Nah. Keep that in-house or with a trusted cook. On the other hand, mashed potatoes? Knock yourself out.
Happy planning! And stay tuned for my Holiday Round-Up Post coming up. I know you need some recipes!