I have been so busy enjoying this Advent season with the kiddos that I forgot about Tip Tuesday!
So…I’ll keep it simple…..keep it simple.
By thinking of simple things you can do to prepare yourself for company and simple ways you can keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed.
Here are some of my difficulties/problems and possible suggestions:
If you are having company for a Christmas dinner:
- write out everything that you need to have done by dinner time. Be specific. Then work backwards. What needs to be done the day “of”? what can be done a day before ? or two days before? Get the kids involved. How can they help?
- Grocery shop at least two days ahead of time…..by yourself, if possible. (You need a clear head..haha) Spend the day before prepping food; making side dishes and finishing desserts.
- If you have invited children, tailor your menu for a minimal mess in your home. I would NOT recommend serving a red sauce with pasta when I know the parents and I will be dining and barely overseeing the children. Serve something with little care for the “fingerprints” you will encounter. I would recommend a nice baked macaroni and cheese with a vegetable and some fruit. Place cheese and crackers on the table or a nice veggie tray for the kids to “pick” at. Serve apple juice or a fun sparkling white apple juice to minimize the damage left by spills.
- If you get an offer to bring something…take it! Suggest things that don’t require re-heating such as a cold salad, bread or wine.
- prep ahead….diced veggies while you are making lunches during the week. Make pies or desserts in the evening.
- give some time to your decorations…giving a little “love” to your centerpiece or table arrangement can really speak volumes to your guests.
- I love some of the ideas that you can find on Pinterest. I love the idea of using little stockings to hold your silverware…so fun and festive!
I always have guests that stop by during the holidays:
- I have a few “guest ready” things on hand during the holidays. I like to have fancy cheeses and a few bottles of wine on hand. You can check out my blog post here on some cheese ideas. Pair these with some grapes on a platter and you look so prepared!!! I also recommend grabbing a few frozen appetizers that you can pop in the oven for guests. This time of year, the grocery stores often have a few puff pastry appetizers, mini quiches or mini hot dogs. I also purchase additional candy treats to put out: hershey kisses, snicker bars, or m&ms are some of my favorites.
- Stock up on some quick freezer dinners for the kids. My kids LOVE chicken nuggets and fries. They can eat out of the freezer for a night!!! This is awesome when you are enjoying a conversation with guests but feel guilty about needing to feed the kids. And let’s be honest….sometimes you are just exhausted from all the wine and hang out!!
- I always make sure I buy 2 boxes of disposable kleenex hand towels for my downstairs bathroom. Ain’t NOBODY got time for spreading germs!!! haha.
My kids and I love these! They are lightly breaded and made with all white rib meat. No weird forms…just chunks of chicken.
If you have you been invited to someone else’s house for dinner?
- I would definitely contact the host and see what you can bring. If you are traveling, suggest that you bring a nice wine or fresh bakery bread to accompany dinner.
- Be punctual. There is nothing worse than a family that decides to come “fashionably late” for dinner. “Fashionably late” is reserved for college kids and parties that are an “open house” style. If you want the invite to be offered again….definitely be on time!
- If you are enjoying dinner with family or friends who live close by, consider bringing a food “gift” for your host. One year, I brought my sister- in -law a breakfast casserole when she hosted my family for Thanksgiving dinner. My thought was that after cooking all day…it might be nice to get a break the next morning. She was so appreciative and it hardly took any time.
- After dinner and/or dessert, I would recommend assisting the host in clearing the table. Many hostesses, like myself, do not like guests to help with dishes but clearing the table is always a blessing!
I plan on making a ton of cookies for the Christmas season:
- Prep for all your holiday baking. I like to bake cookies for my holiday cookie exchange, on the same day. There is something amazing about fresh and chewy cookies. However, it can really destroy your kitchen, if you do not plan ahead. If you are attempting to bake multiple batches of cookies, I suggest portioning out all the dry ingredients in a gallon size lock bag. This can be done several days in advance.
- Write out all your ingredients and the amounts you need. Make sure you have enough of each ingredient. Having to stop baking to run out for a missing ingredient is no fun.
- Always bake with parchment paper, especially if you only have one or two cookie sheets to bake on. You can just slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheet and let it cool, while you throw the next sheet of parchment paper on and a new batch of cookies in the oven…no need to wait for a pan!
- If you have little kids helping….let them do tasks that are set up with little frustration for you, but that they find fun. I will let my kids crack the eggs into a small glass bowl and then pick through it for shells. I let them help with the measuring of flour and sugar but…be prepared for a mess. I also might only let one or two kids help per cookie. We typically make about 2 -3 different kinds of cookies to give out to neighbors, friends, etc.
It is so hard to find time to really live out Advent myself….
- Create some quiet time for yourself, reading a daily Advent reflection. Many Catholic websites offer this service during Advent. It can really help to gain a better focus for your day. You can look into one here.
- Spend a few minutes a day thinking about the birth of Christ. Read books about the Nativity to your children. Take part in a live nativity play or attend one! Give yourself some time during your day to push yourself to prepare for the birth of Christ.
- Clear your heart of “clutter”. Do you need to ask someone for forgiveness? Are you holding on to a grudge that is harming you from the inside? Utilize the sacrament of Reconciliation…many parishes have additional times in the evening during the week before Christmas to participate in this sacrament.
- Most of all, spend this time…..being selfless. Ask the Lord to help you be a “giver” during this season. Give of your time, your talents, and your love to all those around you.
Wishing you the Merriest of Christmas. May the Christ child reign in your hearts!