Don’t use this holiday as an opportunity to try new recipe ideas. It’s best to rely on the dishes you’ve cooked over and over again in order to avoid a meltdown on the day of the event. However, if you’re a maverick and insist on trying something new, then be reasonable and give it a try the week before the party.
Don’t worry about table settings and formalities here. Allow people to help themselves and sit where they want – it’s more social and encourages mixing. The only caveat to this rule is that you ensure that elderly people or guests who may need a particular seat for their comfort are accommodated first and to their liking.
Consider your menu and be as simple as possible with your choices, appealing to a wide range of tastes. Include a vegetarian or better yet a vegan option, and make sure you have a main dish with two side options, so lasagna with garlic bread and a green salad. One-pot dishes always go well, allow for more space in the oven and save on dishes.
Choose dishes you can cook ahead to save time and reduce stress. The most you want to do on the day of the event is reheat or gently garnish. Desserts and cakes should all be prepared no later than the day before the party.
Give generously to your guests. Cook for about five more people than you’re cooking to allow for extra portions and big appetites.
Once your menu has been validated, make your shopping list, written aisle by aisle of your supermarket. Include miscellaneous items like paper towels, napkins, trash bags and ice. This will save money, time and food waste.
Empty your fridge and freezer for extra storage space. The week before your party, decide to only eat from your freezer and what’s in the fridge to create space and avoid food waste. If you find yourself with vegetables to use, toss them into a soup and freeze them in ziplock bags that lay flat on a baking sheet to take up minimal freezer space.
Plan the course of your party and you will have a successful one. You want a serving area, and a kitchen island is the best place for that — your guests can serve on one side, while all the cleaning can happen on the other side. Create two or three seats, using folding tables or patio furniture, making sure there is enough seating for everyone. Gather enough plates from family and friends in the week leading up to the game so you don’t panic, and make sure you have one large plate and one plate (for dessert) per person. Buy towels in cheerful colors and have plenty on hand at all times.
When arranging your dishes, think of different heights and sizes to add interest – think cake stands, interesting serving trays and crystal bowls. Make sure each dish has a designated serving spoon and arrange food from hot to cold.
If you’re not having fun, your guests will notice. Set the mood with your favorite music, lots of kid-friendly decorations and soft drinks and remember that people will remember how they felt at your party much more than whether it was perfect or not .