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Serving the meal
The best, easiest, less confusing and most productive way to serve the meal is using a buffet style self serve in the kitchen. By laying out the items in the kitchen for a buffet meal, make sure to place serving spoons in each item. Also, make sure that all plates, bowls, napkins and utensils are set out for your guests. The condiments should also be put out near the buffet for easy access. Even though you are serving buffet style meals you might want to wait until the guests are seated before refilling their drinks. By refilling the drinks after the guests have been seated will lessen what the guest has to carry back to the table and is a nice final touch.
Now you are ready to enjoy your feast. Sit down and actually eat and enjoy your company. You desire to enjoy the holiday. By following some these time savor ideas you should be able to enjoy the holiday with everyone else.
Set the table
You will want to set the table the night before if you are having family come early in the morning. Leave room on the table for appetizers or snacks you'll be serving during the day. If you are not having any family arrive until the meal the table can be set one or two hours in advance based on your cooking timetable availability.
Cooking & Baking
It's forty-eight hours before the actual meal will be served and you have all your ingredients. It's time to sit down and make out a time table for cooking and baking your holiday feast. Why is making a timetable necessary? The timetable allows you to see all that needs to be prepared, when it needs to be prepared and how long it will take so you can plan other activities for your holiday. Thus, by planning you will find that your holiday becomes more enjoyable and less of a chore and last minute frenzy. It's time to pull out those recipe cards again. This time while reviewing the recipes you are looking for any items that can be made in advance, and how long each item will take for preparation and cooking. Those items that can be made in advance decide if you want to make them one or two days ahead of time. The remaining items you will be serving should be listed out on a schedule for the actual day. You will find by cooking one item while preparing another and using a timetable will certainly free you up to visit with family, or enjoy some holiday TV viewing.
It helps to be organized before going shopping for this big holiday feast. By now you have decided what to serve, so it's time to make that list. The grocery list is essential to the shopping for the meal. To make a solid grocery list take out all of your chosen recipes and go through each one writing down each ingredient required and how much of that ingredient is required. Now do a comparison between each of the recipe ingredient lists. By doing this you will be able to combine certain ingredients and coming up with the correct amount of that ingredient your entire meal will require. Once this is completed you are ready to make your final grocery list. Breaking down those ingredients and making one final list will sure help cut time while you are shopping. You'll want to shop at minimum forty-eight hours before the actual meal is going to be prepared. Ready, let's go shopping. Take the list to the store with a pen. Make sure to mark off each item after you have picked it up. Any items that you do not purchase at one store should remain on your list. If your list is messy and your afraid you won't be able to see the remaining items you can either circle the remaining items so they stand out, or transfer the remaining items to the new list. This way you can continue shopping until all your ingredients are purchased.
Decide what you want to serve:
A good thing to start doing two to four weeks before the actual meal figure out what you might like to serve. Once you have a target list of what you might like to serve find the right recipes for that meal. It's important to find recipes you are comfortable making, taking into consideration working with different types of foods, seasonings or cookware than what you are used to working with. It's ok to experiment, but if you are using something new or trying something new you might want to give a test run before the actual holiday meal. This way you can readjust your schedule if that particular dish doesn't work out for you.
If you like to entertain for the holidays you probably love to cook. Planning the meal is a big part of holidays like Thanksgiving and religious holidays. Most of us are so overwhelmed with work, family and basic daily grind that we forget how to, or just don't feel we have the time to plan anything let alone dinner. I think there is time.
To plan a great family feast for the holidays you’ll want to:
1) Decide what you want to serve in advance and obtain those recipes.
2) Grocery Shop in an organized fashioned with very clear and precise lists of ingredients.
3) Your cooking and baking should also be planned out with a time schedule so you may also enjoy the holidays, not just watch everyone else enjoy them.
4) Set the table in advance making less last minute rushing around.
5) Serve the meal buffet style to reduce your last minute stress level.
Make sure you sit down and enjoy the feast you have prepared!
NOTE: Organizing tips for items 1 through 5 can be found here on this site. You will find that the detailed help with greatly cut down on your stress and bring YOU enjoyment to your holiday.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|