It's the most wonderful time of year again! But for many families, the Christmas season seems to usher in a lot of unnecessary stress, especially where meals, parties and food prep are concerned. Check out this list of 10 incredible tips that will greatly simplify your holiday and give you more time to focus on what's really important at Christmas!
1) Ask for Help! Not only is it a wonderful way to spend time with your family, but cooking and baking together will help to alleviate some of the pressure and cut prep time in half. Make it fun, get out your santa hats and laugh! No, you really don't need to do it all yourself!
2) Make your Christmas party a Pot-luck! Instead of being the only one cooking, let your guests each bring their favorite dish. Everyone will get to try something new and your stress level will be a lot lower.
3) Incorporate Leftovers! Let's face it, you have A LOT to do this holiday season, and with all the running around, sometimes you just don't feel like making a family dinner every night of the week. Instead, try making a large meal that your family can eat over several days. While you're shopping, wrapping and cleaning, the kids can simply heat up some tasty leftovers.
4) Forget an Ingredient? Visit Foodsubs.com, a very comprehensive list of foods that will substitute very well in a variety of recipes.
5) Re-Purpose Those Food Gifts! Rather than letting your family eat those delicious homemade cookies from your neighbor, hide them and serve them to guests at your party. It's one less recipe you have to prepare, and after all, your family will probably have an abundance of other holiday treats to choose from.
6) Pre-Mix Dry Baking Ingredients! Want to know what some of the best pastry chefs do to cut down on prep time and mess? They mix or sift their dry ingredients ahead of time and store the mixes in labeled zip lock bags. You can do this with breads, cakes, cookies, waffles, you name it! And it's also a great gift idea. Just pour the mix into a jar and tie the recipe on with a bow!
7) Use a Slow Cooker! Create more "you" time in the evening by making meals ahead. Not to mention, using a slow cooker frees up your oven and stove top for other uses. When it's time to clean up, all you need to wash is the slower cooker, rather than several pots and pans!
8) Make Pies in Advance! Pies are one of those holiday desserts that freeze very well, and preparing them ahead of time will save you a ton of time. Cool the pie, wrap it with tin foil, place it in a gallon-size freezer bag with a label and pop it in the freezer! To serve, let it thaw for two hours and then warm it in the oven at about 200 degrees F. Pumpkin, apple, cherry and pecan are great freezable pie options!
9) Make Christmas Dinner a Buffet! Forget place settings and expensive china. Instead, create a more relaxed atmosphere by letting your guests choose where to sit. Clean-up will be much simpler as well with disposable flatware!
10) Schedule a Prep Day! You may not realize it, but there are a lot of things you can do ahead of time to prepare for Christmas dinner. A few days prior, try mixing the stuffing, organizing the canned goods you will need, making the rolls and thawing the turkey. Why leave it all for one day!
What are some of your favorite Christmas time-saving tricks for meal preparation and parties?
Tell us about them!