Is the Christmas Season getting stressful?
Most of us love the enchantment of the holidays. But it can also be a difficult time, filled with stress or loss, and few of us have the time to really enjoy the weeks between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. We hurry, trying to get everything done on time. If we don’t get cranky, we feel it.
Six Steps to Easy, Enjoyable, Entertaining.
Don’t let entertaining intimidate you. With a little planning, you can relax and enjoy your family and friends, and receive rave reviews from your guests. The most important tip is KIS.
Keep it simple.
1. Plan your date and guest list and send invitations. Is this to be a family gathering on Christmas morning, or an occasion to invite friends and family? Email invitations, phone calls or text messages can serve as invitations. Formal invitations can be computer-made and printed, or are available where you can buy cards.
A great time to entertain is after Christmas, when you can relax. Instead of greeting the New Year at a party at midnight, with noisemakers and something bubbly for a bunch of tired people, we started a tradition of an open-house brunch on New Year’s Day. Now that we’ve become snowbirds, we’ve given up the brunch, but it was always a big hit.
2. Determine the type of brunch. Will it be formal, or a come-and-go open house affair? A relaxing breakfast on Christmas morning is special, but you might want a separate occasion to invite friends and extended family or coworkers. Remember, they are coming to see you, not to critique your entertaining skills. If you relax, they will too.
3. Plan your menu. Keep your budget in mind. This doesn’t have to be extravagant. On a shoestring, have people bring a favorite dish to share. There are lots of make-ahead dishes that can be prepared as much as a week ahead of the brunch. Make double batches of Christmas goodies and freeze half for brunch. For menu suggestions and recipes, you’ll find plenty on my website, (link below) or search Google or Pinterest, but go for recipes with simple ingredients and great ratings. This is not the time to try something fancy. You don’t have to make everything from scratch. Mixes or store-bought foods can be great, too. The important part to remember is to make it easy on yourself .
4. Keep decorations simple. Use sturdy, colored or decorative paper plates, holiday napkins, and clear plastic cups. Fine china and crystal are elegant, but disposable dinnerware doesn’t require dishwashing, and guests are more relaxed in a casual atmosphere. Christmas decorations can stretch into New Years, and save extra decorating. Sprigs of evergreens and candles or silk flowers or fruit are easy and lovely.
5. Enlist helpers. Friends or family may be happy to help. Organize your tasks. Have someone come over a few days early to help you prepare food ahead of time, chopping, mixing or preparing finger foods.
6. Utilize space. We invited friends, coworkers and family, so our brunches ranged from 50-100 people. We rented some tables and chairs, pushed furniture against the walls and set up tables in the living room, den, dining area, and library. We set the time from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. If anyone came early, we put them to work. A delightful gathering can also be a handful of friends. Make it easy on yourself.
A make-ahead egg casserole
A platter of assorted breakfast meats
A couple of sweet and/or savory breads (store-bought or make-ahead)
Finger foods (fruit tray, veggie tray, dips, olives, etc)
Drinks (coffee and punch)