Here at N.C. Seafood, we love the holidays – there is such a feeling of joy and festivity in the air, and no matter how old we get, the magic doesn’t seem to go away! That being said, the holidays can also be a bit stressful with parties, shopping, and getting everything done on time. If you’re planning on hosting Christmas dinner or putting together a holiday dinner party, this can make the holidays even more challenging. Because we’re used to feeding a crowd at our Raleigh seafood restaurant, we thought we’d share some tips on how to host a stress-free holiday meal!
Plan Your Meal in Advance
When you send out invitations to your event, whether you go classic or simply reach out over social media, get as much information on dietary needs as you can. This will help you plan your menu without having to panic at the last minute if someone asks about having any gluten-free or vegetarian options.
Planning your menu also helps you avoid last minute trips to the grocery store or not having enough food when you start cooking. Once you know what you want to prepare and how much you’ll need, take inventory of what you have in your pantry or fridge and freezer and write out your grocery list.
Pro tip: Mark everything you’re setting aside for your special occasion and keep it separate or let everyone in your household know what is “off limits” because it’s for the holiday meal.
Prepare Your Meal in Advance
Prepare as much as you can in advance so you can relax a bit and also, so you don’t end up with a traffic jam on your stove or oven when you’re trying to get everything together.
Here are some ways you can serve fresh food without trying to do it all just a few hours before your guests arrive.
- Mashed potatoes – Boil and partially mash the potatoes to two days before – then, the day of, add your milk or stock, butter, and seasonings.
- Most dips, cheese balls, and appetizers can be made and kept covered in the fridge for a few days, and often, the flavors will deepen during that time.
- Stuffing can be prepared and frozen up to a month in advance in an aluminum baking pan. Then, just thaw the night before in your fridge and slide it in the oven when you need it.
- Any vegetables that need chopped or prepared can be done the day before. In some cases, you can even chop and prepare well in advance and freeze them to be ready to use – this works especially well for things like onions, peppers, carrots, and celery.
Also, you can set your table and decorate as early as you want to!
Rely on Professional Help
There is no shame in admitting you need help and sometimes, handing over a task to a pro is well worth the cost. Hiring a cleaning service to tackle the bathroom deep clean and baseboard dusting can save you not only time, but stress!
You may also find that you simply don’t have the time or inclination to do all the holiday cooking or the clean-up that’s required. If so, have your meal catered or purchase a complete meal from a local grocery store that you can heat up. You can also split the difference – cook some items and purchase some pre-made dishes. Visit a local bakery or grocery for desserts, side dishes, or even fully cooked main courses (make them festive by taking them out of the packaging and putting them on a pretty serving dish.).
Rely on Amateur Help
In addition to relying on professional help, make sure you delegate where needed and be honest if anyone asks you if there’s anything they can do or there’s anything they can bring. If you have a partner or kids, put them to work, too! Even young kids can help set the table, wash vegetables and potatoes, and run the vacuum. This is an all hands on deck situation, so make sure everyone is helping out!
Visit Our Raleigh Seafood Restaurant This Holiday Season!
Save on your stress this holiday season by taking your guests out for the best Calabash seafood in Raleigh! If your family will be staying with you for a few days or you don’t have time to cook a regular dinner amidst the holiday prep, we’re here for you. Check out our menu and order online for take-out today!