Organizing for the Holidays
Sunday, November 6, 2011 • 7:08pm
Who would have ever thought that so soon after Hurricane Irene, we would be hit with an autumn snowstorm? Mother Nature reminds us, yet again, that being prepared is essential.
The key to preparedness is organization. With the holidays now imminent, a little preparation and prioritization of tasks will turn a time of potential tension into a time of fun and joy. Here are a few tips to ease the stress of the season.
DECORATIONS. Many of us start decorating before Halloween and keep the decorations up until New Year’s Day or even later. The theme of those decorations may change but it seems that the amount of decorations keeps increasing. Keeping balance is key, rather than just adding decorations to your space. Remove some of the permanent items in your home and whenever possible switch out similar year-round items with the seasonal ones you are adding.
PARTY PLANNING. If you are hosting the holiday feast, remember that delicious food served beautifully is the heart of every party. Meal planning, recipe selection, and event scheduling require a great deal of pre-planning. Additionally, invitations should be extended with plenty of advanced notice and RSVPs should be tracked using a master list.
Invitations: To start, keep your master list wherever you expect to hear from guests most regularly--on your phone, your kitchen cabinet or in your email. The list should contain what you are serving (along with the ingredients you will need to prepare them) as well as what each guest has offered to bring. By doing this, you will avoid duplicates and if someone asks, "What can I bring?" you'll know what is still needed. And, by listing your guests and your meal contributions together, you will have who is coming and your menu in one place.
Prep your fridge: Clear the refrigerator out before you start buying ingredients and cooking to make room for the turkey, side dishes and leftovers. Transfer small amounts of condiments in large containers to smaller ones to make space. Adjust the shelving in your fridge and use stackable containers to store food.
Label, label and keep labeling: You’ll probably have things covered in aluminum foil, ready to pop into the oven. Label the sides of dishes so you can tell the stuffing from the sweet potatoes at a quick glance. A roll of masking tape or freezer tape and a Sharpie work best. Additionally, purchase aluminum trays (found at your local dollar store) or Ziploc containers to send home leftovers with your guests.
Food preparation: Prior to preparing your meal, it is helpful to get out the dishes that will be used during the holiday dinner (including serving bowls and utensils). Put a note on each bowl, e.g., Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, etc., so when food is served, there is no fumbling for the right size bowl.
GOOD GUESTING: If you are a guest this year making the holiday rounds, the seemingly continuous celebration doesn’t have to be maddening. Planning and purchasing a hostess gift and your meal contribution ahead of time will avoid leaving you in a pinch. Potted holiday plants, rosemary trees, a box of sweet clementines or a nice bottle of wine make the perfect hostess gift. Keep a few extra in your home along with some oven-ready desserts and appetizers in your freezer so you are not caught short. Trader Joe’s has some wonderful and easy desserts that defrost quickly. Their cheesecake, chocolate ganache cake and apple tart are always a hit.
Once you have allotted yourself enough time to prepare, you have won half of the battle. By getting started early, you will save money, avoid rushing and have more time to enjoy and savor the moment.
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