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Holiday Dinner Helps and How-To’s

Photo source: Per Ola Wiberg

Wondering how you’re going to pull off the party of the year? Anxious about hosting your first, big holiday dinner? You’re not alone. Even if you’re just welcoming family or close friends into your home, planning and serving a large meal can be daunting. But, it doesn’t have to be.

First, examine the basics to planning, serving and paying for a large holiday dinner:

You can download free printable meal planning sheets like mine, or you can buy my 125-page ebook, Organizing Life as MOM, provides 90+ printable planning forms, including several yearly calendars, meal planning worksheets, and daily to-do’s as well as helpful content to get you motivated to manage better.

To assist you — and me — in pulling off a large meal, I put together a couple planning sheets.

Holiday Dinner Plan – Use this sheet or one of your own and take a few minutes to plan the meal. Jot down the recipes that you want to make, the cookbooks where they are located, and the ingredients you will need. If you haven’t already, keep an eye open for sales on these items. If you want to be uber-frugal, choose your menu based on what ingredients are on sale.

Holiday Dinner Timeline – This chart is designed to help you know when you need to be working on which recipe. Getting everything on the table at one time is the ultimate challenge. Plan backwards! Figure out your serving time. Jot down each recipe and how long it will take from start to finish. Calculate when each dish needs to go in the oven so that they can all reach the finish line within a few minutes of one another. If you see on your chart that five things need to go in the oven at one time, that’s your cue to make some adjustments to your meal plan. Can something be made ahead of time? Could the crockpot carry some of the load? Do you need to make a change to the menu plan? Walking through your holiday dinner on paper can help you solve problems or prevent surprises that you may not want to deal with on feast day. If that’s a little fuzzy, you can see this Holiday Dinner Timeline Example where I show a mock-up meal prep timeline.

At my husband’s work, they have a saying, “Proper Planning Promotes Peak Performance.” Yes, it’s as cheesy as all get out. But, it makes a point. A little planning now will help you succeed later. Such is true when it comes to holiday dinners. If you walk through the dinner in your mind, you can set yourself up for success when the time comes.

And if you want to be the Preplanner of the Year, consider adding a holiday meal to your freezer cooking schedule. Later this week I’ll be sharing a complete downloadable menu, including many freezer-friendly items being. The download includes make-ahead instructions, timelines, and shopping lists. So stay tuned!

In the meantime, tell me, what do YOU do? Do you hostess? Or are you happy to be a guest?

You can download free printable meal planning sheets like mine, or you can buy my 125-page ebook, Organizing Life as MOM, provides 90+ printable planning forms, including several yearly calendars, meal planning worksheets, and daily to-do’s as well as helpful content to get you motivated to manage better.

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Comments

  1. I absolutely LOVE to host dinner parties, and offer a time of great fellowship. I am the queen of the tealight! (ambiance is so important, in my opinion) My goal is for friends/family to walk in and feel totally at home. I always make sure the candles are lit, all of the cooking that can be done is done, and any dishes that could’ve been washed, are washed, so I can put my attention on my guests, not the dinner. If I make a heavier dinner, I make a lighter dessert, and visa versa. Two weeks ago, I had about 21 people for dinner in my humble little parsonage, and it was the best time, ever. I love feeling like my house is ‘too small’! Whenever I have a dinner party of that size, I usually make a one-pot meal. It’s a money saver, and feeds many! I love it!!

    • @Janine, I thought of you tonight when I was prepping dinner. I tried to make our “regular old dinner” be a little more special in that I actually did the dishes before we sat down. Made things so much more pleasant. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. By the way….LOVE the holiday dinner plan sheet!

  3. We are going to a late Easter celebration this year so, we will probably have something small on the actual holiday.

    I plan all my parties exactly how you have it outlined. Feels good to be on the right track:-)

  4. I want to sincerely thank you for the meal planning tips. Although I am not hosting Easter this year and am happily traveling to my parent’s house, I will be printing out the work sheets to use at a later date. Gosh! I wish I’d had these 7 years ago when I was first married and my husband and I were trying to put together our first holiday gathering! I enjoy the upbeat, informative and non-judgemental tone of your blog. I’m completely hooked. Thank you!

    • @Beth, aww, thank you! Lately, I have barely had time to put up a post let alone, all the things I want to do, including hanging out in the comments. Thank you! I’m so glad you’re encouraged!

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