Welcome to the holiday season.
Yes. It’s the holiday season already.
Whether or not you’re listening to Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye now or waiting until after you’re stuffed full of turkey, it’s hard to deny the holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and we’ll all be in full merriment mode before you know it.
My number one goal every holiday season is to make sure I’m enjoying time with my friends and family and not stressing out. The easiest way to eliminate stress is to start planning now. The earlier you plan and prepare, the more time you’ll have to stop and enjoy the holiday season.
The first place I start my holiday preparations is in the kitchen. The holidays aren’t holidays without food and friends, and by taking a few simple steps to prepare now, I can ensure I’ll spend less time stressing out and more time with my guests, soaking in the holiday cheer.
Take these four steps and get ready for holiday entertaining now:
1. Get Your Shop On Now:
Get out your favorite recipes (and a few ones you may want to try) and see what specialty spices and other non-perishable items you’ll need. Will you need frozen veggies, pastry dough, or pie crust? Make a special shopping trip now to stock up on the holiday essentials. Make sure you have plenty of kosher salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, sage, rosemary, and thyme on-hand. If you’re a holiday baker, you’ll also want to stock up on flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and confectioner’s sugar. Oh, and if you want the best-tasting turkey seasoning ever created, be sure to grab some Bell’s Seasoning. It’s been a staple in our family Thanksgivings for as long as I can remember.
2. Clean Out the Kitchen:
This is a great chance to go through your canned and dry goods and donate what you won’t be using to a local food pantry. Organize the shelves so the items you’ll use the most are front-and-center. This way you’re not digging through to find ingredients and buying extra cans of pumpkin because you couldn’t see the four you already have on the back of the shelf. In the fridge, discard everything you haven’t used in a month (salad dressings, condiments, etc.) to make room for the bounty of food you’ll need to store. Take inventory of what’s in your freezer and toss anything freezer burnt to make room for holiday cookies and leftovers you plan on freezing. This is also the perfect time to stock up on extra plastic storage containers and freezer bags for leftovers and storage.
3. Prepare for Surprise Guests.
While we’re on the topic of food, here’s an easy way to be prepared for those unexpected holiday guests: Stock up on things like hard cheeses (they tend to last longer than their soft counterparts), crackers, wine, beer, meats, and frozen appetizers. Trader Joe’s has a great selection of frozen finger foods and I fill my freezer with them each November. Need a quick hostess gift? Grab a bottle of wine from your stash, add a card, and you’re good to go without a trip to the store. You’ll be able to have a tray of appetizers or a cheese platter ready in no time at all when your friends stop by out of the blue.
4. Check your serving dishes and bakeware.
Make sure you don’t need to replace anything this season. You may not have noticed your gravy boat was cracked or your big serving platter was chipped when you were cleaning up in a turkey-induced haze last year. I go as far as to take out my serving dishes and label them with the food they’ll be holding so I don’t end up one dish short and serving the mashed potatoes in a cereal bowl. Check your silverware to make sure you have enough for your holiday guests. Target has inexpensive silverware packs if you need more. Take out your table linens and check those for stains or missing pieces. Same with wine glasses and water glasses. We break at least one wine glass a week, so I always need to buy a new set for the holiday season. Have an extra box of wine glasses you didn’t open? Add those to your bottle of wine from step three and you’ve an even more exciting hostess gift.
So there you go: four simple steps to getting prepared for holiday entertaining. Do a little bit of work now and enjoy the benefits all holiday season long.
How do you prepare for holiday entertaining? Leave a comment with your best tip below!