Some of my friends and I were just recently talking about how to create a low stress easy Christmas dinner. I love to host family gatherings at our house and finally think I have a formula to creating a no stress beautiful, special meal that allows you to still enjoy the holiday with your guests! Have some steps and recipes to creating a family gathering that will wow your guests with none of the stress!
Bake and freeze holiday cookies 1 month in advance
Baking holiday cookies especially with young children is fun but also messy, time consuming, and exhausting. You don’t want to save this activity right before Christmas or you will start the holiday week frazzled. About a month before Christmas, I have a friend that always hosts a Christmas Cookie Exchange. We all end of with a TON of different kinds of Christmas cookies which I freeze and save for Christmas Eve dessert. The night before Christmas Eve I pull out the containers from the freezer, place the cookies on my pretty tiered plate stand, cover with saran wrap and dessert is done! Come dessert time all I need to do is remove the saran wrap!
Do the tablescape one week or more in advance
A good tablescape takes time and creativity and there is no reason this can’t be done much earlier than the event. My tablescape is completely done right now and ready for guests. By doing this far in advance it is one last thing to be stressed out about or have to do the day before.
Set up the coffee/tea/beverage station the day before
To free yourself up during the gathering I always create a beverage station so that guests can serve themselves. I typically have three glass pitchers (with ice tea, raspberry lemonade, and cucumber infused water), an ice bucket and mason jars with pretty paper straws to drink from. I also have matching white mugs next to our Keurig for hot water/tea bags and a coffee pot. Additionally I have a bucket full of beer and soft drinks and bottles of wine and wine glasses set out. The day before I set out everything that does not need to be refrigerated, I even place the beer and soft drinks in the bucket so all I have to do the day of is pour the ice over them!
Set up the kitchen island buffet the day before
For all my family gatherings I do a buffet on my kitchen island. I set up the kitchen island the day before so all I need to do the day of is take the dishes out of the refrigerator and place on the island!
Select easy recipes that you can prep ahead
My favorite recipe lineup includes a Spinach Poppy Seed Salad, Fruit Salad, Bread, Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese, Veggie Platter and Spiral Cut Ham. Pretty much all these items with the exception of the Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese and Spiral Cut Ham I prepare completely the day before.
The Cashew Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing and Spinach I prep the day before. I put the Spinach in the large serving bowl, create a separate Tupperware container of the dry salad dressing ingredients, create a separate Tupperware container of the wet salad dressing ingredients and cover with saran wrap and refrigerate. The day of the party I just pour the wet and dry salad dressing ingredients into the large serving bowl of spinach, mix and it is ready to serve. People always love this salad! Here are the ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1 Tbs. onion, grated, 2 Tbs. poppy seeds, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp. sugar, 1 cup chopped cashews, 1 cup grated swiss cheese, and fresh spinach.
The Fruit Salad I prepare in the serving dish and saran wrap and refrigerate the day before so all I have to do is pull it out of the refrigerator the day of the party and remove the saran wrap. I typically include balled watermelon, cantaloupe, sliced purple grapes, blue berries, strawberries, sliced kiwi, raspberries, and black berries. All those colors look beautiful together and taste amazing.
I always include a veggie tray, a tradition I inherited from my grandmother and my mother-in-law. I include black & green olives, sliced red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes and veggie dip. This I prep the day before in the serving tray as well, saran wrap and refrigerate so all I have to do the day of is serve it.
The slow cooker mac & cheese is typically made by my husband and it is a good replacement for the labor intensive mashed potatoes as well as being kid friendly! The morning of the party, we take two second to pour all the ingredients into the crock pot and don’t have to think about it again! Here is the link for the recipe!
I typically buy some pre-made rolls that I can just throw in the oven quickly before dinner and the spiral cut ham is so simple to make compared to other meat dishes!
You can create a homemade meal and beautiful event without the stress by planning ahead and selecting recipes you can prep in advance. Good luck with all your holiday planning and Merry Christmas!