With everything on your holiday to-do list, saving time here and there in the kitchen can give you a leg up for other tasks. Keep these things in mind as you orchestrate your parties and get-togethers.
- Decorate with ease: Beautiful decorations don’t have to take a lot of time or effort. Create a wintery centerpiece (like the one shown above) with a few simple items: Mason jars, votive candles, holiday ribbon and rock salt. Here’s how: Place rock salt in the bottom of the jar, set a candle on top of the salt and tie a ribbon on! Doesn’t get much simpler than that.
- Keep it simple: Whether it’s a holiday open house or sit-down dinner you’re planning, the simpler the menu, the better. Stick with recipes you’re familiar with and those that you know your family enjoys—this will help eliminate a lot of stress!
- Have a pan with a plan: Christmas breakfast sometimes arises before the sun is even up! To get a jump start, prep a breakfast casserole the night before. Then all you have to do is pop the casserole in the oven first thing in the morning. All you need is a pot of coffee to greet well rested family and friends with a warm and delicious start to the day!
- Step ahead: Always have two or three items on your menu that can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen. Dips and spreads are perfect appetizer choices. One-dish entrées, like lasagna, are also great because they can be assembled, then chilled or frozen. So can many baked goods such as cookie dough or unbaked brownies and bars. Frozen items will keep well for up to two months; thaw them in the fridge overnight before baking.
- Prep early: Chop mirepoix ingredients and root vegetables, like squash, carrots and onions, the night before you plan to cook them. Store in resealable bags (label them so you know what dish they’re for!) and chill.
- Set the scene: Set the Christmas table or buffet a day ahead to avoid last minute scrambling, organizing any linens, platters, serving utensils and place settings you’ll need. It pays to spend a little extra time thinking about presentation and garnishing, which can make even the simplest dishes special!