November is finally here, and with Halloween behind us that means the holiday season is ahead of us! Family and friends are home for the holidays and everyone wants dinner at your place. They know you always have the best holiday décor and everyone loves your cooking. And before you know it, Thanksgiving dinner is at your place this year! So whether you have family coming to town or you are in charge of hosting friendsgiving, we’ve got you covered with the ultimate guide to cooking for a crowd.
The golden rule “communication is key” holds even more true when it comes to having people over for a special meal! You want your guests to enjoy the meal you are preparing, and in order for that to happen it’s important that they know what food they can expect. Allergies and dietary restrictions are becoming increasingly important, so not only is preference important to consider, but knowing of allergies and restrictions early in the planning process will help avoid any awkward “Oh, I can’t eat that,” conversations! Once you’ve set a time and date for the event, ask all of your guests if they are vegetarian, vegan, lactose/gluten intolerant or have any allergies. Your guests will feel as though their preferences are being taken into account, and you will have a better idea of what you need to prepare.
Now that you have an idea of who can have what (and who can’t) you can begin prepping for the occasion! You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to know that preparation starts with groceries. Make a list and go to the grocery store with a purpose! Meat can be frozen, pies can be refrigerated and most other ingredients can last at least 5 days before needing to be cooked or used. Once you have all of your ingredients, snacks, and recipes ready you can start organizing when to cook what. If you are serving dishes that are best fresh or include vegetables, chop and clean them the day before, saving you time on the day of the party! Baked dishes can typically be prepared a day in advance and reheated in the oven, so keep this in mind when rationing when and how you will be using the oven on the day of the event.
If the pressure of serving your closest friends and family starts to get to you, remember this: you can always invite your guests to bring a dish! Not only can this relieve you of the stress of pleasing everyone, it can also allow for fun flavors and family recipes that you might not have had if they wouldn’t have brought it. A fun twist to the traditional dinner party can even include hosting a potluck style gathering, where each guest brings a dish! They feel included and you feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders, a true win-win situation.
Every good host knows that any quality holiday party is accompanied by boozy-beverages. Whether it be wine, champagne, hot spiked cider or anything in between, beverages are nearly as important as the food itself! Save yourself the time and stress and provide a “host beverage” such as a whiskey punch or champagne, and allow your guests to bring their own adult beverages in addition. This way, everyone has their favorites and you don’t have to worry about not pleasing everyone’s drink preferences!
Give some of these cooking-for-a-crowd tips a try and let us know if they helped you this holiday season! Share your experiences with us on Facebook or Instagram, and keep following our blog here for more tips for tackling the holiday season.