Kleen Sweep Preparing for Out of Town Guests

Gearing Up for the Holidays: Cooking

3 Ways to Keep Calm and Prep for the Holidays

Ready for the four scariest words you’ll hear all week?
The. Holidays. Are. Coming.
Ok… deep breaths…

I’ve been hosting my family’s holiday dinners for a few years now. And what started as a relatively small gathering has, over the years, grown to a relatively large one, packed full of relatives.

How do I take it on with ease? Well, to be honest… I don’t really. It’s stressful and frantic, of course. But I always manage to pull it off. And, more importantly, I always manage to enjoy the day with the people I love. By planning ahead, staying organized and sharing the work, I save time and effort—and I make the most of the holiday.

Here are three simple ways I’ve found to help keep my cool while cooking that bird (or ham)!

1. Keep It Together

Sounds simple, right? But believe me when I say, a little prep work will go a long way while preparing a feast.

When you unpack your holiday ingredient heap from the grocery store, keep the ingredients that will be used together… together. Whether it’s a special spot in the fridge or a designated shelf in the pantry, when you’re scrambling to cook, the things you need will already be together. Easy to find. Easy to grab. Easy to keep going!

2. Clean as You Cook

Again, this might sound like a no-brainer… but let’s talk about it. Preparing any meal, let alone a huge feast can dirty a lot of dishes. Some people (cough, cough my darling husband, cough) would rather let a mountain of mess pile up in the sink.

But not yours truly. I’ve always found that washing my pots, pans, measuring cups and mixing bowls as I go is a great way to keep the kitchen mess minimized—and save time later, when I’d rather be visiting with my guests. Plus, they won’t spot a dirty sink full of dishes. Bonus!

3. Lighten the Load

post2-1It doesn’t matter if you’re feeding four or serving 17, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Why not make your holiday gathering a potluck? Ask people to pitch in on side dishes, desserts and beverages—so you can focus on mastering the main course. Doing so also means you’ll have less mess to clean and fewer dishes to do! What’s not to love about that?

A cautionary tale: Double-check with each guest on what he or she is going to bring, so you can avoid duplicates. I learned my lesson the hard way, thanks to Thanksgiving 2011… also known as the Day of Six Stuffings. I won’t make that mistake for the holidays this year!

Now that I’ve shared some of my favorite holiday prep tips and tricks, I’d love to hear some of yours. Share them in the Comments section and, as always, Keep it Kleen!