If you’ve hosted any holiday meals at your house, you know how stressful it can be. And while hosting tips usually center on making guests comfortable, it’s the host who may need the most help. Here are some simple ideas to get you through the day with less stress and more cheer.
1 Take the garbage out: One of the busiest spots in the house is the garbage can. Take it out of the drawer or under the cabinet and put it in plain view while cooking. This reduces the time opening and closing doors and drawers and makes preparations easier. When guests arrive, have a lidded garbage can set out to the side so they don’t have to search or open and close cabinets or be under foot. Assign a young person to monitor trash and empty as needed.
2 Set the mood: Have a favorite musical set? Set out a CD player or MP3 dock in the kitchen with your favorite tunes. Whether it’s low-key or lively, the beat will keep you happy and relaxed.
3 Don’t fret over pets: If you have young pets or worry about them jumping on guests (a big concern for older guests and children), relegate them to their own rooms or outdoors. Worrying about what Fido might do should not be on your holiday to-do list.
4 Wear sensible shoes: A host’s feet do most of the work and it’s easy to walk five miles in the course of preparing a holiday feast. Don’t believe it? Wear a pedometer! Black sneakers are a great choice to give your feet support –- and to keep you going longer and stronger as the day wears on.
5 Cook ahead: The more you can cook ahead, the better. Turkey can be cooked, sliced and stored in an ovenproof dish to be rewarmed before dinner. Even mashed potatoes can be reconstituted in a double boiler using hot milk and whipped with an electric beater. Better still, they taste every bit as good as those made at the last minute.
6 Dish duty made easy: Buy an extra-large wire dish drain to handle pots and pans. The wire dish drains allow more air to circulate and dishes dry faster. Keep a large plastic bowl full of soapy water to wash dirty dishes as you go.
7 Keep bathrooms scented: Add a highly fragranced candle such as Tyler or Archipelago to the bathroom, because multiple guests create multiple odors. This helps the bathrooms stay fresh smelling and pleasant for guests and you.
8 Flowers in a flash: A few days before the feast, grab big bunches of single-color flowers. Masses of the same color flowers look fabulous, and they’re easier to compose than mixed displays. No time to visit the florist? Grab a small tree branch with fall leaves and add to a glass vase for an uber cool look. Or arrange stems of holly, fall leaves or grasses.