Start every day with something delicious.
Bring excitement back to your lunchbox.
Delicious dinners don’t have to be complicated.
Kick off your next party with crowd-pleasing, smile-inspiring appetizers.
End every meal on a high note with Hatfield.
You raised your hand and volunteered to host holiday dinner. Now what?
Take a deep breath. Everything will be fine! You can do this. We know this because we’ve put together a survival guide that will help you get through the entire process of hosting a holiday dinner for the first time.
If you’re a veteran, we’d love to hear your holiday hosting tips. Let us know on Facebook or on Twitter at @HatfieldMeats with the hashtag #SimplyHatfield.
PLAN AHEAD (MEANING, COOK AHEAD)
If you’re looking at a menu with 8 to 10 dishes on it, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Your first instinct might be to cut out a few, but there’s no reason to edit or downsize your spread too much. Instead, focus on simplifying the process. Look for what dishes you can make the day before.
Side dishes like casseroles can easily be prepped the day before and then baked or heated the day of the dinner. The same goes for desserts too. If you don’t want to lose dishes, consider swapping a few out with ones you can make ahead of time like our Stuffing Muffins.
This will help you manage day-of dishes much more easily and hopefully ease your mind!
MAKE A TIMELINE
A good plan is key, so the No. 1 piece of advice we can offer you is to project manage every step of this holiday meal. It might seem daunting to sit down and plan out every day, every hour, and every minute ahead of time, but even if you don't stick to the timeline in the end, it will serve as a helpful guide.
Think through what day you’re going to go shopping. Can you – or could someone else – set the table the night before? Which dishes can you make in advance? Who’s handling the drinks, ice, and ensuring the appetizers are set? Where is everyone sitting?
Phew, it can seem overwhelming when you start to list it all out, but once you do, you can start crossing items off the list. Having a plan and a schedule will help you enjoy the day!
Maybe we should have made this one the first tip! Another great reason to plan everything out ahead of time is that you give yourself due dates for when each step needs to be completed. If you wait until the last minute and decide to wing it, this might be your first and last year hosting.
You’re going to have a lot going on, so put some work in early. If you can do some shopping a week or so ahead, go for it. Use your detailed timeline to help you plan and prevent holiday procrastination. (If you want to skip the rest of this list and get started, go for it. We understand!)
HAVE DRINKS AND APPS READY FOR GUESTS WHEN THEY ARRIVE
Your guests are probably going to arrive earlier than dinner will be served. And depending on holiday traffic, they might show up hungry.
Make sure you’re prepared with snacks, appetizers and drinks ahead of time. Having some easy-access treats will help keep your guests busy and, hopefully, out of the kitchen so you can concentrate on the work that needs to be done.
You don’t have to go all-out, either. Stock your cooler or fridge with drinks in the morning and use some store-bought snacks (nuts, chips, veggie platters) to help fend off the “hangry” guests until dinner is ready!
WHY MAKE IT ALL FROM SCRATCH?
On that note, why are you making this entire meal from scratch? When it comes to hosting a holiday dinner, pick your battles.
Sure, there are a few items you’re going to want to tackle from scratch, but there are likely tons of others where you can take shortcuts. Simply put, there’s no need to make an entire holiday dinner from scratch.
Whether you want to buy pre-made rolls you just need to heat up or you want to grab some pre-made desserts, focus your time and energy on the holiday must-haves. Use that list you should have made by now and look for anything that will make your job easier. No one will notice (unless you try to swap out Grandma Betty’s potatoes with store-bought!).
DON’T TURN DOWN HELP (ESPECIALLY WITH THE DISHES)
As if keeping to your prep and cooking schedule aren’t enough, at some point you’ll need to worry about the aftermath of a holiday dinner: taking out the trash, packing the leftovers, and a mountain of dishes.
Most holiday guests aren’t the kind to eat and run, and with holiday spirit running high, you may get a few more volunteers offering to help. If they do, don’t turn them away.
Turn these chores into post-meal conversation times. Even if no one volunteers, recruit!
At the end of the day, the holidays are about family, so make sure you find some time to relax and have fun with them.
Maybe you’re the type who wants people in the kitchen to talk to while you’re cooking, or maybe you just want to get everything wrapped up as early as possible so you can wind down as the sun sets with a glass of wine.
Either way, you’re just as entitled to a nice holiday as everyone else, so make sure you find some time for you along the way.