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Entertaining Can Be Stressful
We tend to do a lot of entertaining during the holidays and we want it to be perfect. So it can get a little stressful some times, especially when we invite people over who have different diets and food preferences.
Here are a few tips that will reduce your stress and help you pull off that perfect dinner!
#1 Ask Ahead
Before you even think about a menu, ask all of your guests if they have any food allergies, dietary restrictions or strong preferences. The most common issues are people allergic to dairy, wheat and nuts. You should also inquire to see if any of your guests are vegan or vegetarian. It can be very embarrassing to have guests show up and not be able to enjoy the wonderful meal that you have prepared.
#2 Familiar Recipes
When planning the meal, especially the main course or the desserts, stick with dishes you know or at least have successfully made once before. Christmas dinner is no time to make something tricky for the first time. Experimenting with a side dish or appetizer is no big deal but don't try to cook the majority of the meal out of a brand new cookbook.
#3 Make Ahead
Make as many dishes as possible ahead of time. Some things can even be made the day before. If the entire dish cannot be made in advance, at least have all the veggies chopped or the sauce prepared. Doing everything in the hours before the party can make you too exhausted to enjoy yourself and you want to do as little as possible after people arrive so you can mingle with your guests.
#4 Don't Do It All Yourself
If guests offer to bring a dish (especially those with dietary restrictions), say YES! Preparing a multi course meal is difficult (and expensive) so if someone offers to bring a salad or a dessert, take them up on it. Just give them some guidance as to the dietary restrictions of the other guests. Even having someone pick up a bag of ice could save you a last minute trip to the store.
And when the dinner is over, if your guests graciously want to carry the dishes over to the sink or even put them in the dishwasher, let them help.
#5 Write Down the Menu
I know I've mentioned this before but this is the most important thing I do when preparing a big dinner. Write down the menu on a piece of paper.
Even if you have all the dishes prepared and and just need to heat them or take them out of the refrigerator, there is a fair chance that you could forget something.
There is a lot going on after the guests arrive - not to mention you may have enjoyed a glass or two of wine. By having the menu written down, there will be less of a chance of finding the green beans still on the stove the next morning or those special olives you bought still in the container in the refrigerator.
I hope these tips help you enjoy your holiday dinner a little bit more!