The holidays are one of our favorite times of the year. It’s a great season to see family and friends, and also to enjoy some festive meals and libations. However it can also cause tension and anxiety. Whose house do you visit for the big meal? Where do you pop into for a drink or dessert? Surely, the most logical solution would be to jump on a Caribbean-bound plane and avoid all the fuss, but another option is to make a fun meal at home and invite all the relatives. Whatever you decide, here are some hints to make it through the coming weeks.
If you’ll be party hopping:
• Ask your host what he or she will be cooking, and bring a few wines that will pair well with the dishes.
• Offer to bring dessert. You can make one of your old standards, or buy a recently released cookbook and try something new. The slightly used cookbook then makes a thoughtful hostess gift alongside the finished dessert.
• Ask your host what time the main meal will be served, and then schedule other visits accordingly.
• Be polite, taste everything, but eat only a little—that way you can enjoy everyone’s specialties as you travel from table to table.
If you’ll be hosting a party:
• Plan your menu well in advance. Remember to consider your guests’ likes, dislikes and dietary constraints.
• Make lists. Not just of the groceries you need to make the menu, but also tracking the various preparatory tasks and when they need to be done.
• Prepare whatever you can ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze it until the big day.
• Set the table the night before. It’s a good time to make sure that your platters and bowls are clean and polished. Use sticky notes to identify which foods will be served in each and match the appropriate utensils.
Need inspiration for your holiday parties? Check out the Wine Enthusiast Ultimate Holiday Entertaining Guide.