My goal with holiday company is to spend the most time enjoying them, so I prepare myself out of the kitchen. I love having company, but with health challenges I haven’t always had the energy to do everything. I’ve developed what I’ve branded Help Yourself Hospitality.
The hot drink station is always ready for those early risers who want a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. If I’ve had a rough night of sleep, I don’t want my company waiting for me to rise to have their caffeine. Although everyone is welcome to rummage through my cupboards, not everyone will feel comfortable doing that. The blog post Help Yourself Hospitality – Hot Drinks shows a few more options for your drink station. I’ve also blogged Help Yourself Hospitality – Breakfast.
I prepared bags of meals to make dinner go smoothly when we want to enjoy more coffee and visiting. The recipe is printed out and placed in bag with all non-perishable ingredients. The items that are in the fridge or freezer are highlighted on the recipe. I blogged about this in the post The Ol’ Bag Lady Has Dinner in the Bag and included my recipe for White Chicken Chili, a gluten-free, dairy-free meal that is warmly received on a cold day. My Southwest Roast is another crockpot hit, slow-cooked for 24 hours, so when you’re cleaning up dinner one night, you throw another dinner in the crockpot.
We spend as little time washing dishes as possible, since I see some of my relatives only during the holidays. This caddy is always ready. This year I bought a few pretty plates, but the majority of the time we use compostable white papers plates, cups, and napkins from Costco that can be tossed in the yard waste garbage can.
These silverware bundles were prepared for a company party we hosted in our home and they worked well on the buffet table. The napkins and gift tags were from IKEA, so they were inexpensive and adorable. The vintage bread pan holds about 17 bundles. I made extra for the family meals.
Other miscellaneous kitchen tips for company:
- Restock all kitchen cleaning supplies, including soaps, garbage bags, paper towels for the spills you count on having.
- Buy healthy snacks. Eventually they’ll get tired of Christmas cookies, so I keep dried nuts and fruit on hand.
- For finger-food meals, I keep a variety of cheeses, crackers, and fresh fruit on hand.
- Accept help graciously. It doesn’t matter if they load or unload the dishwasher incorrectly. Let them bless you.
My MIL advised me years ago the reason you prepare ahead of time is because company comes to visit you, not watch you work in the kitchen. As you make your last run to the grocery store before company arrives, prepare yourself out of time in the kitchen and into more time with your company.