Unless you can hire both a caterer and a maid service, any detail involved in hosting a crowd for your holiday dinner can easily go overlooked. When you’re not fully prepare to (cheerfully!) entertain, feed and clean up after a guests, time seems to fast-forward, panic sets in and you spend the entire evening running in circles.
Sound like you? Not to worry. The first step towards making this holiday great is printing this checklist that you can stick on the fridge to make sure no detail goes overlooked. It starts you out three weeks in advance of your holiday event (yes, it really does take three weeks). Simply striking the to-do items off this checklist will put you on track towards your greatest holiday meal ever.
Canadian Living holiday dinner planning tips
The Canadian Living Test Kitchen has been making great holiday dinners for over
30 years. Here are some of their planning tips for a relaxing, stress-free event:
1. Make freezer appetizers well ahead of schedule
Making a few appetizers four to eight weeks in advance will pay off on the big day. Early guests? No problem. Just pop a baking sheet of ready-made appetizers into the oven and bake until hot and golden. Here are three of our freezable party favourites:
2. Prepare freezable side dishes up to two weeks ahead
It’s your freezer to the rescue again. Items like turkey stuffing, purées and sauces can be taken off your list up to two weeks in advance. Just remember to pull from the freezer and thaw two days before dinner.
3. Roast your turkey unstuffed
If you’re roasting turkey, consider the time advantage – and reduced risk of salmonella poisoning – of roasting the turkey unstuffed and warming the stuffing while the turkey rests. You can prep and season unstuffed turkey the day before, instead of waiting until the day of. Plus, an unstuffed turkey cooks more quickly.
4. Always share the load
The holidays are a time for giving – and receiving. Invite your guests to bring appetizers, side dishes, salads or desserts to be shared along with the main event. Note: Encourage that they bring microwaveable hot dishes, to reserve oven space for your own menu.
5. Clear the kitchen clutter before the meat is ready
Once your roast is out of the oven, you have about 30 to 45 minutes while it stands and is carved. Use this last-minute time to boil items on the stove top, microwave vegetables and bake up casseroles.
Remember: It’s also your job to relax and show your guests a great time. Keeping yourself prepared and organized in advance will allow you to simply go with the flow come the big day.