#4 in the Holiday Planning guest series by Jennifer Tankersley
So many holidays are built around the fact that we all have to eat. Because of this, the dishes found on the holiday table are often traditional. They are more than just nourishment, they have become one with the holiday and with the memories of holidays past.
While it is a joy to cook from the recipes of our ancestors, when you’ve formed your own family unit, it may be an opportunity to create new food traditions.
This holiday season, take the time to plan out the meals that will offer your family and friends a chance to gather and remember.
Here are some ways to get started planning now so that you can create a stress-free holiday table.
Gather recipes – Start looking through your recipes to locate favorites and keep them together in a convenient spot. If you have a copier at home, copy several of your favorite holiday recipes onto a few pages, then add these to your holiday planning binder under either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Then replace your recipes back to their original location for safe-keeping.
Plan holiday meals – A Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner may look somewhat similar. Plan them at the same time to save time. Consider main course (turkey, ham, roast, soup). List possible side dishes (stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole). Check off salads, bread, and drinks. And please do not forget the dessert (pumpkin pie).
Delegate dishes – If your holiday meals will be in the company of extended family, don’t feel like you have to go to all the work and expense yourself. Call your guests and ask them to bring a dish. You can either choose for them or guide them in their decision.
Create your grocery list – Work from your menu plan to create a comprehensive grocery list for each holiday meal. Be sure to combine when possible. If you know you will need sweetened condensed milk for dishes served at both holidays, then buy them both now. Be sure to cross them off your list so you don’t purchase doubles. This will not only save a step later, but will ensure that the stores don’t run out before you have a chance to buy.
Consider the table – The actual holiday table is the centerpiece for your gathering. Dig out your best linens and make sure they are laundered and pressed. Polish your silverware. Shine your china and glasses. Decorate the table with leaves, pinecones, glass balls, a wreath, candles, whatever might be available. It doesn’t have to be fancy. This personal touch will warm the gathering and make it extra special.
Schedule your preparation – Don’t save all of the preparation for the last minute. Think about what can be done the day before, a few days before, a week before, etc. Make a timeline for the actual meal day so you get the turkey in the oven on time and coordinate the cooking of the side dishes.
You should not exclude yourself from reveling in the holiday meal. Don’t forget to relax, and enjoy.
Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of ListPlanIt.com which has hundreds of printable lists, checklists, and planning pages to put your world-and your holidays-in order.
She also writes 100DaystoChristmas.com, which gives a daily dose of inspiration and motivation to get you through the busy holiday season.
For More Organizing and Planning Tips for Busy Moms, also check out the Living Life at Home Podcast Interview with Jennifer Tanksersley.