So, we hosted our first Thanksgiving this year. It was quite a feat: turkey, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, green beans with bacon, homemade rolls, dessert. It was the first time I ever prepared such a massive meal on my (our) own, and I learned a few things along the way. So if you’re hosting Christmas or Hanukkuh or any other major holiday at your home, here are a few things I’ve learned (some the hard way):
Making holiday memories (and food)
- Prepare, prepare, prepare: Make a list of everything you’re preparing, and then break that list down into a few other lists: ingredients by dish (for shopping), baking temperature and time (to plan out the day of), and temperature the dish is served at. This last list is important to help plan out your day; if you have a dish that needs to be served hot out of the oven, you don’t want to bake it 5 hours before everyone arrives, and vice versa. Something that is served at room temperature can be made earlier in the day or even the day before to help manage time.
- Get your prep taken care of EARLY: I spent the night before making the dishes that I knew could be refrigerated and keep well. I also spent the morning cutting all the vegetables and herbs, so the assembly of each dish could just fly by.
- Accept the help: Get your husband or partner involved. In our case, Shawn helped with a few dishes as they came up, but he was also totally responsible for the turkey. He brined it, dried it and roasted it. It turned out delicious, and it helped me to be able to focus on all the smaller dishes.
- Breathe: Remember, this is a holiday and it’s supposed to be fun. There’s nothing worse than a stressed out, irritable and exhausted host or hostess. Prepare and plan, and then enjoy. At the end of the day, it’s not about perfect food or an elaborate presentation; it’s about friends and family and spending time together.