Got Holiday Cooking Stress? Five Tips to Avoid Anxiety and Impress Your Guests
While the holiday season is generally a happy time of year, it does bring about some stress. Whether it is battling the shopping mall crowd, deciding what gifts to buy, traveling or your visiting in-laws or grown children, seasonal stress is real. For those of us tasked with cooking the holiday party meal the anxiety may make you feeling not so holly jolly. Cheer up! As a professional caterer, I have some simple tips to help you stay calm and wow your guests:
- Make a list – It sounds simple but lists can help keep you organized and allows you to get all of the tasks and to-dos out of your busy mind and down on paper. This kind of planning will help you visualize how you want to serve the food and assure that you are not forgetting a family favorite. Start with your overall menu and then list ingredients needed, items that need to be ordered ahead as well as tasks that you can delegate.
- Cooking Calendar – Once your menu is set you know not only what to make, but when to make it. Don’t leave the cooking to just one day. Some recipes need time for marinating, others can easily be made days ahead to free up oven space and ease the stress of the holiday event.
- Simplicity is key – Easy to make items are key to avoiding stress, especially the day-of the party. Between setting up and welcoming your guests, there isn’t much time to spend in the kitchen. There are delicious recipes that are also simple and easy to make. Examples include pears wrapped in prosciutto, green beans with pine nuts, a crudité platter, fruit salad and pre-made desserts.
- Label-Making– Set out and label serving dishes and pair with utensils a few days before the party. This allows you to get everything cleaned and sorted in advance. This step will also help you account for space and identify any other bowls, baskets or serving pieces needed. No one wants to scramble to set up an additional table or run to the store for more items the day of an event.
- Leave it to the Pros – Sure, a holiday meal made in your kitchen sounds warm and fuzzy, but the strain on your holiday spirit may not be worth it. However, there is nothing wrong with getting a little help! You can still make your traditional family favorites but let a caterer help with specialty foods for vegetarians or guests who need to eat gluten-free. Or, have them prepare desserts and side dishes to compliment your famous roast. Partnering with a caterer allows you to enjoy the holiday while serving a meal your friends and family won’t forget. It’s up to you whether you share your secrets!