Just a quick common sense post.
Keep a Master List.
If you are like me, you tend to make the same dishes each holiday. I don’t always use recipes though, and so trying to remember everything off the top of my head can be hit or miss in my ole age. I have each dish I normally prepare, with a list of the ingredients I use saved in an email. All I have to do is print it up and cross off everything I have on hand. If you have a smart phone with shopping list apps, it’s even easier. Don’t forget to include necessities such as paper towels, foil, etc..
Start with a clean kitchen sink, counters and an empty dishwasher or dish rack.
This will help you keep your kitchen clean as you go. Wash as you go, and/or stow away dishes in the dishwasher. If you wash before the food dries, clean up is quick, and there will be no piles or clutter to stress you out. For more help in managing the holidays, visit http://www.flylady.net
Make sure you know where the basics are.
Cooking used to be stressful for me because I spent more time LOOKING for what I needed than I did actually cooking. I make sure I have my rolling pin, measuring spoons and cups and other odds and ends at the ready. I’m not super organized, but I have all my baking stuff in one drawer so I can put my hands on what I need.
Cook what you can the day before.
I plan on making the pumpkin bread, pies, potato salad tonight. I will prep the candied sweet potatoes and mac n’ cheese so I only have to bake them. The only major things I will have to do is the turkey, dressing, and collard greens.
Enlist help and keep the young ones from underfoot and everyone out of the kitchen
If you can delegate, delegate. Anyone can chop onions, celery and bell peppers or wash dishes. My nieces and nephews are living with me “temporarily”, so I let them watch but if they get in the way I give them a job to do: folding towels, cleaning off tables, carrying things, putting things away. Coloring books are your friends. As are batman dvd’s. Tonight will be pizza night.
Take care of yourself and get plenty of rest.
Pace yourself. It’s better to take a 2 hr nap so you can work quickly and refreshed, than to work steadily through at a snails pace, too tired to enjoy the process. I know sometimes rest isn’t an option, though. Avoid sugar, once the high wears off, you are worse off than before. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. As a last resort, I like Five Hour Energy Drinks.
Enjoy the Day!
The holidays are times to celebrate and reaffirm family ties. Not everything is going to be perfect, but don’t that that steal your joy. Let’s try to serve each other out of the love we have for one another. Also remember there are a lot of people who are hurting financially or who don’t have the loved ones with whom to share a traditional holiday meal. If you know someone in that position, invite them over or take them a plate. Also consider making a donation to a local food pantry.