By Janet Keeler
A no-stress party checklist should be part of your game plan for a winning holiday party. You might be entertaining family on the holiday itself, or maybe you’ve invited friends over to celebrate the season on a weekend leading up to the big days. There are plenty of opportunities to gather family and friends during the season.
So what’s keeping you from getting jolly? Likely, all the work. This week, the Sunday Supper tastemakers have developed recipes for easy holiday entertaining. Plus, we offer these 10 tips to help you get organized and pull of the party of the year.
Make lists. Grocery lists, menus, decorating ideas and even-who-is-doing-what should be put down on paper (or on your smartphone or tablet). Don’t leave these things to chance or you will waste time running back and forth to the store, and then be so busy during the party that you don’t have time to mingle.
Stock up. If you devise you menu soon, you can start to stock up on items as they go on sale, or better yet BOGO. Chicken or beef stock; pasta, crackers, chips and nuts are just some items that can be purchased long before the party. Likewise cake mixes, flour and sugar or other baking items. Butter, which has become quite expensive lately, can be frozen.
Assess your space. Live in a small condo? Maybe you’d be better reserving the clubhouse or having your bash at a restaurant. Your house is big but the dining room table is not. Give up the dream of a sit-down dinner for 12 and go for an elegant buffet. You’ll save yourself a lot stress if you plan the party to fit the space.
Assess your equipment. I include glasses, plates and utensils here. Do you have enough or do you need to rent them? Will plastic and paper do? That depends on the type of party. These are things to think about before hand. Make sure you have enough serving spoons for communal dishes. And if it’s a potluck, just now that not everyone will bring serving pieces.
Self-service drinks. I like the idea of a self-service bar. Beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks should be set up away from the food so that there’s not a traffic jam in one area. Consider putting out the fixings for one fun cocktail, such a a cranberry martini, unless you are planning a full bar.
Consider a potluck. Enlist the help of friends who like to cook and come up with a menu that they want to participate in. Don’t leave the offerings up to chance or you may end up with a table of pasta salads and spinach dips.
Menu planning 101. Devise a menu that combines store-bought noshes (nuts, olives, cheeses, salami and sausage) with homemade items. Use your time to make show-stoppers. Don’t forget to offer a sweet or two.
Advanced menu planning: Your menu should include some dishes that can be made in advance or even prepared and frozen. If you spend all day in the kitchen prepping for the party, you’ll be in no shape to party. It’s bad form to take a nap when the event is in full swing.
Enlist some help. Now is the time to put the kids to work. If they are old enough, have them cruise through the party every now and then to collect dirty plates and empty cups. Since the kitchen is such a gathering spot, assign them to the counters. Keep them clean. Take out the trash when it gets full.
Relax. If you do enough advance planning you should be able to join the party too. If you are uptight, your guests will be also. And they are likely to leave early. You don’t want that.
Join us around the virtual table at 7 p.m. ET Sunday for our live Twitter chat focusing on easy holiday entertaining. This week’s event is being co-hosted by Michelle De La Cerda-Nash of The Complete Savorist and Valerie Cathell Clark of Lifestyle Food Artistry. Until we meet online, check out this week’s recipes:
- Caramel Coffee by Party Food & Entertaining
- Christmas Cranberry Mojitos by Our Good Life
- European-Style Hot Chocolate by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Peppermint Hot Chocolate by My San Francisco Kitchen
- Pomegranate Sangria by The Redhead Baker
- Spiced Hot Milk Brandy by Nosh My Way
- Christmas Cranberry Dip by Fantastical Sharing of Recipes
- Festive Shrimp Bites by The Freshman Cook
- Hot Crab Dip by Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch
- Krayl’s Easy Holiday Cheese Board by An Appealing Plan
- Mini Cheese Balls by Books n’ Cooks
- Pear Pancetta Goat Cheese Appetizer Bites by Food Done Light
- Beer Pull Apart Bread by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
- Ranch Buffalo Chicken Dip by Table for Seven
- Shrimp Puffs by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Smoked Salmon Dip by Palatable Pastime
- Smoked Salmon Shooters by Amee’s Savory Dish
- Spiced Nuts by Confessions of a Cooking Diva
- Tuscan White Bean and Sausage Dip by The Complete Savorist
- Ultimate Taco Dip by Momma’s Meals
Main and Side Dishes
- Fruited Wild Rice by Magnolia Days
- Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives, and Potatoes by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Holiday Seafood Fest (La Grande Zuppa del Costiera Amalfitana) by Monica’s Table
- Make ahead Parmesan Mashed Potatoes by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Pasta With Duck Sugo by The Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine
Desserts and Baked Goods
- Apple Brown Betty by Curious Cuisiniere
- Apple Panna Cotta by Caroline’s Cooking
- Banana Coconut Lime Bundt Cake by Desserts Required
- Chocolate Sheet Cake by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies by Take A Bite Out of Boca
- Gluten Free Key Lime Tartlets by Gluten Free Crumbley
- Grown Up Peppermint Bark with Sambuca by Lifestyle Food Artistry
- Microwave Carob Fudge by Pies and Plots
- Orange and Dark Chocolate Chunk Scones by The Texan New Yorker
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread by Ruffles & Truffles
Plus a No Stress Party Checklist and Recipes for Easy Entertaining by Sunday Supper
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.
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