- Prepare a cooking schedule for your holiday gathering. Ideally, I would recommend doing so starting two weeks in advance with your planning, shopping and cooking, saving the cooking tasks requiring the freshest ingredients for the last. For example, you can prepare dinner rolls (or the dough for dinner rolls) well in advance and freeze them. You can’t do this with any kind of fruit or veggie salad. But if you have the dinner rolls made and stored safely in the freezer, you have more time to make that dinner salad on the day of your party.
- Set the holiday table a night before the party. If you want it to look just right, the dinner settings can be done the night before. You’ll want to save any fresh center piece to put out on the night of your meal, but all of the silverware and place settings certainly can be put on the table well in advance.
- Organize your serving dishes. Make sure they’re all clean the day before and make sure you have all of the necessary dishes and lids. Decide what will go into which serving dish and what serving spoons you’ll need. This will guarantee that you have everything you need in advance so that you can borrow or buy anything you need for serving the food.
- Prepare as much food in advance as you can. I’ve talked a little about this above. Freeze what you can and thaw those items on the day of the gathering. Refrigerate what you can the day before and bring those dishes out for the meal on the day of. Make the dishes that can only be made fresh on that day. When you spread the cooking across several days, then on the day of your event you’ll definitely feel less stressed because you’ll have less to do while preparing for your holiday gathering.
- Defrost your turkey or ham according to the instructions. Don’t try taking shortcuts with the main course! Make sure you leave plenty of time for defrosting and cooking the turkey and plan some of your other preparation tasks around cooking it.
- In order to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed, delegate what you can to others. Don’t be afraid to take up friends and family on their offers to help with the holiday meal. Let them lighten your load a bit so that you all enjoy your get-together.