How To Plan the Perfect Christmas Dinner
For years, you were a guest at Christmas. Now, it’s finally your turn to host. And what a year to begin! It may seem daunting to make 2020 the first year you host the Christmas Day celebrations, but with proper precautions and a small but close group of guests, you can still celebrate the most wonderful time of the year in style. For your first time hosting, here’s how to plan a Christmas dinner that will be fun, memorable, and delicious.
Plan Your Menu Ahead and Shop Early
Improvising dinner is fine for some idle Tuesday. But for a Christmas Day feast, allow yourself at least two weeks for meal prep, starting by planning out your menu in full. Chances are you’ll have to order your main course of turkey or ham well in advance. Once you do that, start picking up supplies from the grocery store that may get cleared from the shelves in a pre-Christmas rush—think flour, sugar, molasses, or spices and seasonings. Even the best grocery stores can run out of produce, so if you need cranberries, fennel, or squash, don’t wait too long to pick those up as well.
Set the Table With Ease
You may think that Christmas dinner calls for the fanciest plates and silverware you have. This may make you panic because you don’t exactly have those kinds of dishes on hand. But while the event does call for something more special than what’s in the cupboard for everyday use, you can marry sophistication with simplicity thanks to high-quality plastic partyware. Choose a color scheme that fits the occasion, set the table, enjoy your meal, then clear the dishes straight into the garbage. You’ll add touches of color and elegance to the table, and you’ll be able to serve more people than you could with your grandmother’s old holiday dishes. Best of all, you won’t have to spend time at your own party washing the dishes.
When we think of small bites at Christmas, our minds go straight to Christmas cookies: molasses, gingerbread, anisettes, peanut butter blossoms—all the favorites! But save the cookies for after the meal and concentrate on some simple but tasty hors d’oeuvres for beforehand. Keep guests munching with some cheese plates, clever cracker-and-dip combos, and mixed nuts. Help everyone keep a little distance with individual servings rather than shared plates!
Plan Cooking Times Carefully
This is where most people get tripped up. Even the most expansive kitchens start to feel pretty cramped when it’s time to prepare an annual feast. No matter how much you cook, you’ll need to plan out your stove and oven times to make sure your main course and sides are all ready to serve at once. Take note of cooking times for your respective dishes, write them out, and schedule accordingly. Don’t try to do too much at once—if you’re concentrating on two dishes, you’re really concentrating on neither. And don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Don’t Forget Cookies!
Christmas cookies—no Christmas Day would be complete without them. Don’t send friends and family home without yummy desserts. Fortunately, it’s easy to bake your cookies well in advance, freeze them, and have them warm and ready to eat just after Christmas dinner. If you’re doing the cooking but can’t take on the baking, consider inviting your guests to bake their favorite recipes to share with everyone. By next year, once you truly know how to plan a Christmas dinner, you may feel confident enough to do it all yourself.