December 17, 2010

Holiday Cooking Survival Plan!

After a slightly hectic and kind of stressful Thanksgiving, we decided to change it up for Christmas. We're staying home! Wooohooo! The various groups of families are coming to us on assorted days, and then we are spending Christmas evening with my dad and step-mother at their house.

I can not even begin to tell you how excited I am for this. I get to stay in my own home, with my own tree, and relaxing as I watch my babies open presents without having to hurry up and go somewhere else. All I have to do is wait for people to come to us!

That means cooking for people, which is what I love to do. Or rather, I love to feed people. It's the Southern in me. But it also means a lot of food, and that means...

Spreadsheets! Gotta love 'em. Or at least, I do. They make my OCD self giggle like a school girl and then I get "worried" looks from my husband. To the creator of Excel: You have my eternal and heartfelt thanks. I'll send you a cookie.

Anyways, in order to make my life smoother, easier, and as stress free as possible I've come up with a plan, and wanted to share a few points with anyone else who might be hosting multiple holiday events.

Holiday Cooking/Party Survival Plan

1. Make a list. Of everything you plan to cook, assemble, serve and drink. Make a list of people if you need to, or at least a number. Preferably on a spreadsheet! I've made one including all the dishes I plan to cook and their ingredients, which I can check off as I stock them.

2. Do as much shopping as possible as early as possible. Frozen things can stay in the freezer for the next week. Paper/plastic/canned products can be bought now. I have pretty much everything ready except for the fresh stuff that needs to be, well, fresh. This means avoiding the crowds and spending less time running around like a chicken with it's head cut off because it's 5:00pm and your guests are coming at 6:00 and ohmygoshIhaven'tpickedupanythingyet!

3. Do as much prep work as you can before hand. A lot of things can be done the night, day or a few days before the event. Casseroles can be assembled, dips can be mixed, cookie dough can be prepped and put in the fridge for baking just before. Veggies chopped, meats and cheeses sliced, etc. The less you have to do the day of, the better (and easier!) for you.

4. Make an oven schedule. If you have a lot of things that need to be baked/heated/cooked, and only one oven, then make a schedule. I've made a spreadsheet that has a column for the time of day and following columns for each temperature I need for my recipes. I've filled in cells with the recipe name and cook time. This way I can cook multiple things in the oven at one tempt, then change the tempt and repeat for other recipes. No crazy changing back and forth between temperatures, or forgetting that I could have done breakfast casserole with the biscuits.

5. Stop. Breathe. Relax. If you run out of time to fix that last thing, or you forget to assemble something and people are walking up your drive way, RELAX. It's ok, they're not coming for the food. They're coming for you. Hiding in the kitchen to make everything perfect is just going to stress you out and you won't get to enjoy the holiday at all.

Yes, I'm a spreadsheet loving nerd. But I am an efficient spreadsheet loving nerd!

Now, if I can just stick to my own list. Especially that last one.

Anyone else have big plans for the holidays?



Allison said...

I'd add a point here...

1a. Find yourself a spiked glass of holiday punch if you want to master points 2 - 5 without going stark raving mad!

:D Hugs!

Sandra said...

Great tips! We're staying "home" as well and family/friends will come to us. That way, if Dave becomes over tired, he can go upstairs and nap.

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