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Easy Party Planning for Christmas or New Year Eve Dinners

Simple Party Planning

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


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  1. Hi Prerna! I love the simplicity of your suggestions. We also have our Christmas dinner on the 24th and I start the cooking the day before but I still end up leaving a lot for the 24th. I like your idea of preparing way more in advance so I can rest some and enjoy the day of the party. I’ll have to do some more planning this year but it’ll be well worth it.
    Thanks always providing sound advice. Loving blessings!

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Andrea, glad you liked the ideas. I used to never prepare in advance and it only caused me a lot of stress on the day of the party. Now,am so much more relaxed and happy about hosting and entertaining. Yep, things are simpler but better :-)

  2. I’m sorry to hear your husband has gout and that your hands are so full at a busy time of year. I have a question for you. Do you usually cook the meal the day before and then re-heat it when the time comes? I’m in the process of figuring out what I am going to do. Happy Holidays!

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Wendy, thank you for your kind words. Really appreciate them. Yes, I cook a day before and bake a few days in advance. And then, just reheat and garnish at the time of dinner. Wish you and your family Blessed Holidays too!

  3. Wow, Prerna, you have your hands full. I hope things get easier for you soon.

    “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.” <– I love this part.

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Djinny! Glad you liked the tips.. Thanks for your kind words.. The holiday season is all about sharing and caring, so I guess even our family meal should reflect that:-) Happy Holidays to you and yours!

  4. Hey Prerna,
    I really love those ideas… You are soooo inspiring… :)
    Happy Holidays to you and your family.
    Happiness Always…

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Nitha, thanks. Glad you liked the ideas. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous New Year!

  5. Hey there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics? Thanks a ton!

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