Whether you follow table etiquette to the letter or prefer to welcome your guests in a more casual manner, the key to low-stress entertaining is organization. If you want to be able to sit down with your guests instead of panicking in the kitchen, you need to do some advance planning and preparation.
First, come up with a menu and ensure you have all the ingredients on hand. The day of your dinner party is not the time to start running to the grocery store. Make a list of your tasks — housecleaning, food preparation, decorating — and break them down into steps, some of which can be completed in advance. Jot a step-by-step plan down on your calendar according to the time you have at your disposal and the priority of the task.
Putting up the Christmas tree and decorations can be done several days in advance, even if it seems a bit early. That will leave you with one less thing to worry about as the party approaches. Get bigger cleaning jobs out of the way ahead of time, too. You can then do a last-minute touch up the day of the party.
Partially or completely prepare all of the dishes at least one or two days before your dinner party. Cook and freeze what you can for reheating just before serving. Many dishes can go in the freezer without losing flavour or consistency.
The more you do in advance, the more relaxed and in control you’ll feel as you prepare to greet your guests.
For more recipes and ideas for the kitchen, check all our CHRISTMAS COOKBOOK articles.