9 Holiday Entertaining Tips For a Stress-Free Kitchen
Emily Lycopolus, author of Syria: Recipes for Olive Oil and Vinegar Lovers offers up these entertaining tips to help you keep your kitchen stress-free during the holidays.
I’m not sure about your homes, but during the holiday season, my kitchen is the centre of attention: a whirlwind of action, with everyone standing around, trying to look helpful—or in other words, the worst combination of factors when trying to make a meal for 20, or create platters to feed 45+ during a “simple” cocktail party. Oh, t’is the season of eating! Luckily, I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve for achieving a stress-free kitchen this holiday. From planning menus ahead, to making an efficient shopping list, to delegating tasks, read on for my essential tips for holiday entertaining.
1. Make a Plan
Planning meals ahead of time always takes me back to my university days, in a lovely nostalgic way, and lays the foundation for the perfect event. As soon you know guests will be coming (or even before the holidays in general) I recommend grabbing a cup of tea, sitting down, and thinking about what recipes you’d like to cook, as well as how many guests will come, and their specific allergies or other food preferences. At times, I’ll go so far as to print every recipe and tape them to our cupboards before the big day—seriously! Once you have selected your menu, check what meals you can make ahead, find out how long each dish will take to cook, and put recipes in order of most complicated to simplest, aiming to tackle the simpler dishes first.
2. Make Meals Personal and Creative
When choosing your recipes, I recommend selecting dishes that you truly want to make—such as recipes you haven’t made in a long time, a favourite family tradition, or a dish from a new cookbook you’ve been meaning to crack open. A menu that includes meals you look forward to creating is the key to smiling during every part of the process—and keeping that kitchen stress-free.
3. Create a Detailed Shopping List
Now that you’ve chosen your menu, it’s time to make your shopping list. If I’m using an online recipe, I’ll copy and paste ingredients lists into a Word document, then consolidate everything into groups: produce, pantry, dairy, meat, speciality ingredients, etc. Make sure to add up all the volumes of ingredients: for example, if you require 2 cups of milk for the spinach dip; 1 cup for the scalloped potatoes; and ¾ cup for the cake, then you’ll need almost 1 liter of milk (or 2L to be safe).
4. Make Use of Your Cupboards
With your shopping list in hand, survey your cupboards, marking off ingredients you already have at home. If you find an ingredient that’s not used in your everyday cooking regime, set it on the counter, so it doesn’t get lost or forgotten prior to your event. And be sure not to mark off ingredients you are likely to use up before guests arrive—such as when someone uses the last of the milk for their cereal, just the morning you’re going bake a cake!
5. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate