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EST. 2011 BY LIZ RUEVEN
12 Tips for Reducing Stress when Hosting a Holiday

12 Tips for Reducing Stress when Hosting a Holiday

Stressed when you’re hosting?  Who isn’t?

There are a few super simple ways to make holiday planning a whole lot easier and more streamlined.

Here are my top12 tips for getting organized and reducing some of that stress before ANY dinner/event you host:

 

•1 Keep lists of recipes (be specific and refer to books, page numbers, blog names and links to specifics) you are considering for a holiday. Narrow it down and write a detailed menu with the source by each dish. Add in names of friends/family who are contributing any of these items to the festivities.

 

a record to cherish
a record to cherish

•2 Keep a running count of your guests, by name. If one or two drops out, you’ll be glad you re-set your table before 30 guests arrive. If there are dietary requirements for individuals, indicate that by their name.

 

•3 Rewrite your list so it is legible and reflects your final decisions. When the list looks orderly you’ll feel more organized.

Final menu and day by day
Final menu and day by day

 

•4 List the days of the week leading up to the holiday and the tasks you plan to accomplish on each day. Cooking in advance and defrosting? Be sure to factor in defrosting times and schedule removal of any items from your freezer.

Still in exploration mode
Still in exploration mode

 

•5 Create a train schedule. Cookbook author, blogger and friend, Ronnie Fein, explains that she creates a separate sheet detailing start time (departure) and end time (arrival) of every dish that goes into the oven. That way nothing is forgotten and all food gets to the table at the correct temp.

 

•6  For your shopping list, itemize EVERY ingredient you need for EVERY dish. Explore your own pantry and cross off items you don’t need to buy. Don’t find yourself without ____because you were SO SURE they were in your back refridge. (For me, it’s always onions).

In order of my Whole Foods
In order of my Whole Foods

 

•7 Re-write your grocery list in the order that you shop your favorite stores. Group everything by categories (all veggies, all fruit, all dairy together) and shop with a pen so you can cross off each item.

 

Going with a desert theme this year
Going with a desert theme this year

•8 Set your table and order flowers early. If you’re not using your dining room and your holiday dishes, linens, goblets etc… you can do this a week in advance and cross one more thing off your list. If you’re using potted plants, buy them in advance and place in their containers on the table. If you’re cutting flowers from your yard, take a much needed walk about to determine what’s blooming.

 

•9 Keep cleaning up your notes (legal pads are genius). In the end, you should have ONE sheet, with the holiday name, date and list of guests in addition to your full menu, where you sourced each recipe and who brought what.

Nope. Never deconstructing a raw turkey again. Ever.
Nope. Never deconstructing a raw turkey again. Ever.

Was a particular wine perfect with your brisket or turkey? Wish that you had thought to make a quinoa dish for your vegetarian cousins? Were you hankering for one more large serving bowl suitable for a huge green salad?

Make notes about all of these thoughts, too.

 

•10 Take out all platters and serving pieces for each dish. Label each one with a small slip of paper indicating what you intend to place there.  A large bowl for rice vs. wokked greens may not be so obvious to you when the heat’s on and you’re reuniting with cousins you see only once a year.

 

All cleaned up
All cleaned up

•11 If there are additional reasons to celebrate, mark them in your notes. We have baby E. at our table for his first Passover this year! You can be sure my notes will reflect that. Am I anticipating that my notes will be an interesting record for my daughter and daughter-in-law one day?

 I hope so!

But I also look back on my notes to see what I cooked and to remember where that favorite ______ (chutney) came from. Was I disappointed in a particular recipe? Found something too labor intensive? My notes will remind me.

 

•12  Consider saving leftover gravies (clearly marked, ie: chicken gravy loaded with onions and garlic), cooking broth and chicken from chicken soup. Have a turkey carcass or beef bones but having too much fun to deal with it at midnight? Freeze it. You’ll be happy to find half the work done for your next soup, stew or chicken salad. Go for NO WASTE or at least, reducing what you generate.

Have a moment to share? Let us know what tricks you have for staying organized when things get hectic. 

Wishing all a joyful spring and, for those who celebrate, a Happy & Sweet Passover. Liz

 

 

 

10 Comments

    • Never too late, Ronnie! Keeping these records is a great way to relish (and cook again) the successes and steer clear of what wasn’t so great. I also love seeing my notes about who brought what. That way, when you’re planning the next holiday, you can look back and ask that guest to bring those AMAZING _______ again!

  1. I also have kept my notes on Passover for many years. It’s fun to reflect back and learn from them over time. I am also a list person, so I will add that train schedule this afternoon as the final helpful tool for the first night’s Seder. One area I need to improve…committing to my whole menu earlier. I’ve been to the grocery store five days in a row! Happy Passover!

  2. Since I’ve been married I’ve kept a journal of my holiday menus (the final draft) with sources. It’s nice to have a book to flip through from year to year. I also organize all of the recipes I get online for each holiday by bookmarking it in a separate bookmarks folder for each holiday. Makes it really easy to pull up when it comes to crunch time in the kitchen.
    Hag sameach!

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