Many of us celebrate the holidays by hosting a dinner party with friends and family. The idea is to spend quality time with our loved ones, but hosting can sometimes be overwhelming. To minimize stress and enjoy the gathering, preparation ahead of time is key.

Planning the menu the week prior to the event will allow more time for procuring everything on your shopping list. Purchase as many items as you can the week prior, as this will help to avoid the crowds and to ensure that you are able to purchase everything on your list. Once you have your menu confirmed, make a preparation schedule and plan for the day of the event. If trying any new recipes for the occasion, do a test run ahead of time to ensure the recipe is one you are comfortable serving to your guests.

Cooking a large dinner often requires a lot of ingredients. Bring out your inner chef by using the “mise en place” method of preparation. “Mise en place” is a french cooking term which refers to having all of your ingredients prepared ahead of time before starting to cook. Wash, peel, chop, dice, and measure your ingredients prior to cooking to make preparation quicker and more efficient. One of the biggest challenges with hosting gatherings is the limited amount of space in the refrigerator and in the oven or stove. Using square and rectangular dishes will allow you to fit more in the oven and allow for easier and more effective stacking in the refrigerator. To make more room for food, chill beverages in a cooler or tub with ice. Also consider removing any unneeded items, like condiments or other jarred items, and store them in a cooler elsewhere.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and stress-free holiday season with your friends and family. Cheers from all of us at Alexian!