This past week has been crazily busy for our family as we went from one doctor to the other to learn the cause of my husband’s joint pains. Turns out, the poor guy now has gout (yes, even I thought only 40-50 year-olds get it!) in addition to TMJ.
While it was a blessed relief to know that it wasn’t anything more serious than that, it also meant a whole gamut of changes for our family. He’s already on a very soft diet because of his TMJ pain and now that gets restricted further as we work to bring down his uric acid levels. His dietary changes and specifications meant that I rework my party plans and menus for our big Christmas dinner. Moreover, since he can’t move around a lot due to the pain, I’m running all errands, doing the housework, writing for websites and clients and taking care of toddler and husband.
So, while I want a warm, well-prepared dinner, I also want to be able to enjoy preparing for it and hosting it.
Here are my simple party planning tips to make sure that having a party is easy on my family and me.
Plan, Prioritize and Prepare in Advance
The 3 P’s of party planning – plan, prioritize and prepare. You know my love for lists and planning and it is no different for my Christmas dinner. I’m using Jessica Fisher’s ebook and Mandi’s free templates for my holiday notebook and Jessica has some really great planners in her eBook, Organizing Life as Mom to plan everything – baking, cooking, menus, grocery lists and so on.
Also, since I can’t grow four hands, I also had to get real and give up a few things. I may not be able to make Christmas cakes for everyone to give away as after-dinner gifts. So, I’m making one big cake to serve as dessert instead. Pay attention to what is essential. Prioritizing is key to having a party that you as well as your guests enjoy. It is more important to me to be able to sit back and have a laugh with friends and family rather than feel stressed about giving individual cakes.
We don’t have a big freezer so I can’t really cook a whole lot in advance. But I can bake and store things in advance. The cold weather ensures that nothing goes bad. So, holiday cookies and my favorite chocolate fudge are going to be made later next week and be stored away for Christmas eve and later. I’ll also be cooking a couple of days in advance since that’ll allow me to store things in the refrigerator and our small freezer easily.
Be Considerate and Compassionate
Yeah, I know. Strange party planning tip, right? Actually, no. It is the season of love and giving. So, shouldn’t it extend to the party we plan? Paying attention to the dietary requirements and preferences of guests will ensure that everyone can enjoy your meal and your kindness. It may take a little planning and a little more time than usual but it will be worth it. This year, I’m going to think about my husband’s dietary specifications (no meat, lentils, green leafy vegetables or hard, crunchy foods) my mom-in-law’s love for spiciness, my sister-in-law’s vegetarianism as well as all the kiddos who’d love the desserts more than the actual meal! It may seem a lot but I know that seeing them all enjoy the meal, no matter how simple it may be, will make the dinner worthwhile.
Plan to Keep the Day of the Dinner Free
We host our Christmas dinner on the 24th night. I’ve planned to finish everything – decorating, cooking and baking, by the 23rd evening. Being relaxed and peaceful on the day of the dinner will help me enjoy our evening even more. A relaxed host does help make a big difference to the party mood than one who’s rushed, stressed and tense. (Ask me how I know!)
That’s it. Simple planning, prioritizing and preparation to make sure that everyone enjoys themselves and that you, as a hostess, don’t get stressed will help you have a dinner party that is warm, entertaining and symbolic of the season’s real meaning. Sure, you may not have a lot of fancy dishes or an elaborate cuisine (or if you manage it, maybe you do!), but you will have a family digging in happily and with love.
Your turn! How do you plan for your Christmas or New Year Eve dinner? What are your party planning tips and secrets? Do share!
Photo Credit: tED