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Plan Your Holiday Dinner Party Like a Pro

2021 11 19 082323One thing we will probably all do over this holiday season is have a dinner party. Whether that dinner party is for two people or twenty people, this type of event truly tests our executive function.  We must be able to plan, prioritize, avoid procrastination, and remain on task.  We must remember what we did already, and what still needs to be done.  We must be mentally flexible so we can move easily from one task to another.  And most importantly, we need to regulate our emotions because not everything is going to go as planned.

We will provide you with some tips and strategies you can use to have a successful, stress-free dinner party this holiday season.  

Remember to have fun and bon apatite!

Plan Your Guest List: Not everyone needs to know each other but select people who you think will get along easily. Decide how many people to invite based on how much space you have in your home, what your budget is, and what you can realistically handle without stressing yourself out.

Invite Your Guests in Advance: Remember the holidays are a busy time of year, so be certain to give your guests an opportunity to plan.  Ask your guests to respond to the invitation to help you with your planning.  Make certain to let them know if the dinner party is kid friendly or for adults only. 

Plan Your Menu:  Consider your guests and keep in mind any diet restrictions.  Are there any allergies or special diets to consider? On your list include appetizers, entrée, side dishes, bread, dessert, and beverages.

Make certain to select some items you can make a day or two ahead of time or things you can purchase pre-made.  Don’t overload yourself with things you have to make the day of the party.

If someone volunteers to make and bring an item!  Let them!  People love to contribute to a holiday meal.  That will allow you to cross an item off your list.  If your time is limited go ahead and ask your friends to bring a side dish or dessert.  Then you can focus on appetizers and the main dish.

Once you make your list, review the list and consider the number of guests – ask yourself if you are planning too much, too little, or just enough?  Adjust your list if necessary.

List the ingredients for each dish.  Then separate that list into what you have and what you need to purchase.

Consider your timing:

Write down when you are going to shop for your items.

Decide what items you can prepare in advance and what food items must be prepared the day of the party. 

Write down how much time each item will take to prepare the day of the dinner party.  Based on that time, make a note of what time you will have to start each item in order for it to be ready and at the right temperature when you are ready to eat.

Set the table the night before.  If you have children, let them contribute to the holiday decorations for the table. While you are getting out the dishes make certain you pull out all of the platters or large serving bowls you will be using.

Set up an area for food and beverages.  Plan to have areas for the food and drinks so everyone can easily serve themselves.

Give Yourself Time to Prep Yourself. Set a timer for an hour before the party begins to give yourself time to get yourself ready.  That way you are not rushing around changing your clothes and doing your hair 10 minutes before guests arrive!

Have plastic containers on hand for leftovers.  You know there will inevitably be too much food.  Have containers on hand so you can easily put everything in the fridge quickly or hand out to your guests to bring home.

Have Great Fun!  Remember to take time to enjoy your friends and family.  Take in all the great conversations, laughs and smiles.